Taking a turn from intrigue into supernatural horror, the final issue of Descendent from AfterShock Comics is released this week. Tying up loose ends and bringing character arcs to a close, Stephanie Phillips has a difficult job on her hands holding everything together.
However, with the majority of the secrets already revealed, the stage is set for a disturbing confrontation. In order to save lives, David and his fellow conspiracy hunters must face the enemy head on but none of them are prepared for what awaits them.
Written In Fire
In order to set up the final piece of the puzzle, Phillips starts this issue off with another flash back. This time to Massachusetts 1692 and the start of it all. This sequence cleverly sets up both the villain and the motives behind everything that has happened in previous issues.
The decision to take the narrative away from the murky realms of the ‘uncertainty in the supernatural’ that kept the X-Files going for 11 seasons, allows Phillips to end the series on an exciting high note. The shift from F.B.I drama to almost The Wicker Man standards of horror provides the narrative with a shocking twist but also a speedy conclusion to many of the story threads.
The central characters are forced by the confrontation to face various aspects of their personalities, with varying degrees of satisfaction. The conclusion to David’s character arc is especially interesting. He has been a man obsessed from the very beginning but has never had to face his obsession. Phillips walks the character into the very thing he has been searching for his entire life but how do you deal with something like that? David has moments of weakness and his fear and trepidation affects his actions.
For the final issue of a series, Descendent has an ending that is fitting and satisfying for the reader. The journey to this point, and through this issue, has been a roller-coaster of a ride for the characters and the readers alike. Police procedural, family drama, and supernatural horror have all played their part with Phillips blending each part of the story together wonderfully. There has been a strong narrative thread through all five issues, feeding the characterisation and the drama.
Drawn From Blood
In earlier issues of Descendent Evgeniy Bornyakov demonstrated an aptitude for bringing conversations to life through his art work. In this final issue he finally gets a handle on the action scenes. With the characters performing much more physical acts in this issue, Bornyakov has needed to pack the panels with more dynamism. Altering the shape of the panels has helped greatly in producing the fast paced motion required. Bornyakov has focused on the characters and their placement within a panel, favouring an almost empty background for most of the action.
In turn, Lauren Affe has picked up establishing the scene with her colors. The twilight hours are pictured beautifully with simple background lighting and the choking atmosphere created from a burning pyre dominates the panels and pages as the fight escalates. The increase in tension is reflected by the growing clouds of grey/brown smoke that begins to take over the page.
Affe’s lighting is especially effective on the characters during the final confrontation sequence in this issue. She highlights the characters faces, picking out their expressions and relaying emotional states which are instantly recognisable for the reader. As a consequence, the emotional journey of the characters becomes easier to follow.
The emotional state of the characters is also picked up through Troy Peteri’s lettering. The subtle changing of font size within speech balloons adds nuances to the speech. So does the visual depiction of the speech balloon’s themselves. Throughout, Peteri gives the villain a slightly different boarder to her speech balloons, this highlight’s not only her speech but also the speech in the panels surrounding her. The reader can instantly see the that there is a difference between them; a constant reminder of the villain’s origins.
Over the five issues, Descendent has been an interesting read with highs and lows in both script and art. The ending however is a combination of the best from both. The plot is well paced with a decent combination of humour and horror. The art work is more consistent throughout the issue and captures the tone of the script on every page.
In some respects, the ending has come too quickly with the switch from investigative drama to supernatural horror being a bit sudden. The build-up has plenty of scope for a much longer series with the twist coming at a much later date. However, this final issue is a triumphant and a pleasure to read. It has satisfying conclusions to a number of the character and plot arc’s leaving the reader with a sense that this chapter is complete.
Hopefully this team will get the chance to work together on future comics because, by the end, each aspect of the comic was working fluidly together to tell the story.