Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Letterer: Steve Wands
Publisher: Image Comics
They say life flashes before your eyes when you’re dying. Everything that was once important to you is brought back by your subconscious one quick last time. Descender #2 opens with Tim-21 initiating his memory back-up protocol after a critical system failure caused by a violent attack of a group of Scrappers – bounty hunters and mercenaries killing robots for their processors.
Tim’s earliest memory is that of being activated by a young Dr. Quon and immediately reminded of his primary function: to entertain, protect and assist in the education of his assigned human child companion. That somehow connects to Asimov’s First Law of Robotics, doesn’t it?
Descender #2 hints that Jeff Lemire’s universe is robot-friendly, or at least was, until the arrival of the Harvesters and the collapse of the United Galactic Council. No one trusts robots anymore.
Most of Tim’s remaining memories are of coming to live with the Taverses, becoming close to their son Andy and being treated like part of the family, getting a birthday party of his own and being kissed goodnight by Ms. Tavers, wishing he could sleep and dream like an average human child.
In Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odissey we meet HAL 9000, whose highly developed emotionality is responsible for much of the narrative tension. Shortly after 2001 was released, Kubrick explained that he had aimed to depict “the reality of a world populated – as ours soon will be – by machine entities who have as much, or more intelligence as human beings, and who have the same emotional potentialities in their personalities as us.
The closing image with a Driller bot holding Tim-21’s body on his arms is so sad it’s hard to process: “Driller don’t know what to do, little bot, Driller don’t know what to do…”
Fortunately, we know from the end of #1 that Dr. Quon is coming to the colony for Tim, he’ll be fully functional in the next issue, hopefully.
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