Jeff Lemire, prolific Canadian graphic novel and comic book creator, and one of the few people whose mere name can make me squee, came out with two new series last week, All-New Hawkeye and Descender. I will try to keep my gushing over him to a minimum in the two following reviews.
It’s also worth mentioning, in Canadian comic book news, that Lemire and 2 other Canadian authors recently got put on the American Library Association’s 2015 Top 10 Graphic Novels for Teens. The books were Trillium by Lemire, Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley, and In Real Life by Cory Doctorow (my review here).
Descender is the story of a robot boy caught in future world where everyone is quite violently anti-robot. In this first issue, we are introduced to a future where robots attacked the human population, but then we turned around and destroyed every robot out there. Yes, flashes of Terminator and A.I. are probably going through your heads, but truly Descender appears to be a unique take on this type of story. The art (done by Dustin Nguyen) is quite beautiful, and there are certain moments that really punched me in the heart. When Tim wakes up from a robotic stasis, 10 years after the robot-human war, the analysis of his planet states “Current Population: 1” and the storytelling really gets you to feel just how alone this boy is. At a later point, he finds his robotic dog and they have a reunion and there is just a little image of the analysis of the planet changing to “Current Population: 2” that, while it might sound cheezy, totally made me tear up.
For those not really familiar with comic books, Hawkeye is the Avenger played by Jeremy Renner in the Avenger movies, the one with mad archery skills. During the past couple of years, Matt Fraction (another incredible comic book creator, sadly not Canadian) introduced a Hawkeye series that defined the character and blew everyone away with the originality of the storytelling. So, in creating a new series about the character, the pressure was most certainly on. I would have been worried about it, but they announced that Lemire would be doing it and I knew they character would be in good hands. This first issue is certainly a good sign, with Lemire contrasting the life of Hawkeye now with past events and telling both storylines at the same time in a feat of artistic genius achieved by the award-winning Ramon Perez. The first issue takes you to both the time when Hawkeye and his brother were living from foster home to foster home and to the present with Hawkeye and his protegee Kate working for S.H.E.I.L.D. Will I like it as much as the Fraction? Time will tell, but I certainly enjoyed the way Perez created the time lines, and the way Lemire contrasted different emotions during the two time lines, both creators demonstrating the way that graphic stories can do things that other storytelling formats simply cannot.