On his way to finally lay Effie to rest, Andy runs into a few unexpected surprises in Lemire and Nguyen’s Ascender #12 from Image Comics.
Picking up after the heartwrenching events that ensued two issues ago, Ascender #12 pits Andy with the unnatural task of laying to rest the woman he loves, all while still not sure what has become of their daughter Mila. Suddenly, a horde of vampires attack. All begins looking bleak until salvation reigns down on the horde from above and a would-be comrade in the fight against Mother pledges his aid. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to vampire horde leader General Vix, there’s a new Mother in town, one who’s determined to uncover a dark secret that the UGC had left buried in the years following the Descender’s arrival. If she can find this secret, she might also discover the very source of all magic in the universe.
Here’s what’s no secret: Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen deliver consistent quality in both storytelling and lush artwork every month with Ascender, and this twelfth installment of the ever-evolving fantasy tale is certainly no exception. What’s most notable in this issue is a particularly poignant trio of pages that serve as a reminder of Andy’s long history with Effie as he rides through the woods in search of somewhere safe to bury her body. Lemire’s concision with words in fine art of exposition for immediate emotional impact is masterful, and Nguyen’s carefully plotted visual contrast will cause you to jump back with either horror or joy. (Or perhaps a mix of both.)
This moment early on in Ascender #12 serves as an important contrast to the scene in issue #10, in which Effie, unable to continue her internal battle with the vile hunger that consumers her, beckons Andy to end her existence as a vampire.
There aren’t a lot of writer-artist teams out there that can capture true emotion in their books every time, but Lemire and Nguyen do, and have done so consistently since the start of this follow-up to Descender. Ascender #12 is yet another 20-page installment full of heart and soul made of something softer than steel and science-fiction.
Jeff Lemire (W), Dustin Nguyen (A), Steve Wands (L/D) • Image Comics, $3.99
Review by John T. Trigonis