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Descender, Volume 6: The Machine War: 11/24/20

Descender, Volume 6: The Machine War

Descender, Volume 6: The Machine War by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen concludes the Descender arc and launches the Ascender arc. This volume is backstory heavy, focusing on the events that lead to the current onslaught by the Harvesters.

Having read Ascender, Volume 1: The Haunted Galaxy (2019) before starting Descender, my question throughout this volume wasn't how do the humanoids win? Instead, it was, how badly do they lose?

The ending volume with Tim-22 dead and destroyed realigns Tim-21 at the protagonist or traveler, in terms of the road narrative spectrum. In fact, the final volume resets Tim's status to that of the first volume, namely as a scarecrow (protector) (99). The only difference now is that his ties to the Harvesters and the Descenders (a term finally defined in story) are well defined.

Chart showing the progression of the Descender arc through the six volumes

Thus Tim's status of protector is re-contextualized against how he is also predetermined to carry out certain actions and to be affected by others. He is then both scarecrow (protector) and minotaur (monster / prisoner) because he wants to protect the people he lives with but can't escape the Descender's plan to pull all robots out of humanoid space.

Tim's destination is utopia (FF) in the form of the Descender's home world. Where it is located and how travel to there works is another large piece of this final volume.

The route Tim takes is a metaphorical Interstate (00). Interstate routes are direct ones, one that are quick and efficient and don't lend themselves to detours. Once Tim's fate is sealed, he is on his way just like all of the other surviving robots.

Thus volume six can be seen as a tale of a scarecrow/minotaur going to utopia via the Interstate (99FF00).

Volume six ends with a coda narration by the protagonist of the Ascender series.

Four stars

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