The Ascendant OGN Review

Writer: Luke Martinez
Artist: Unai de Zarate
Colorist: DC Alonso
Letterer: Marshall Sriboonrung
Story Consultant: Stephanie Cannon
Publisher: Ironclad Press

Review by Cory Webber

The Ascendant is the story of a generational figure who passes the mantle down to his sidekicks. The original Ascendant, Grant Barnes, is suffering from long-term dementia. Ted Sellers, the second Ascendant, is tormented by feeling powerless as he is unable to help his mentor and hero. Meanwhile, difficulties are emerging in his relationship with his former sidekick, the current Ascendant, Jaime Garcia.

More than just a superhero story, The Ascedant deals with the real-life, human aspect that is often glossed over in typical superhero fare. While reading this 80-plus page story, I couldn’t help but feel that the writer was drawing from personal experience. So, it was no surprise to read at the end of the book that the author had a loved one who had experienced something similar.

Now, I may have been in the perfect mood for this book, but I found it refreshing. It is authentic, original, and full of heart, while maintaining a fair amount of levity and superheroics.

The script can be dialogue-heavy at times, with some panels being overly stuffed with speech balloons; however, these moments did not slow down the pace of the story. Rather, every word choice seemed to be purposeful and meaningful. Also, there is a decent mystery storyline throughout regarding the retirement homes’ other residents and their supposed secret identities.

The art perfectly complements the story. The overall composition is consistent throughout. Now, some parts were short on detail, especially buildings in the background, but for the most part it was fine.

I liked the character designs, especially the three Ascendants; each one was distinct yet aesthetically connected someway to the others. There are also some neat alien and villain designs, including a giant multi-eyed, large-fanged alien monster. I would love to see more of this world in other adventures.

Now, I don’t mention the lettering unless it stands out. Well, it does just that. Specifically, the way the letterer connected alternating dialogue between two characters. Normally, the connecting line from one speaker’s speech balloons to the next goes around the other character’s word balloons. I can imagine this could get tricky for some longer-winded conversations. However, the letterer cleverly continues the connecting line from one character’s speech balloon behind those of the other characters. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done quite like that before. As a result, the conversation between the characters flowed more naturally. I credit this subtle move with preventing the more dialogue-laden panels from bogging down the pace of the story.

Verdict: Buy it.

The Ascendant is a wonderful alternative to the multitude of superhero stories out there. It does not abandon superhero tropes altogether, but rather it focuses on the human side of such tales to great effect. The book is insightful, personal and all around well-done.

The Ascendant is currently for sale on DriveThruComics and ComixCentral, and it will be on Comixology later this month. The author is also hoping it will be available in print this summer.

Cory Webber
Cory Webber is a devoted entrepreneur, husband and father. Having recently discovered the wonderful world of comics, he spends most of his free time devouring issue upon issue. The rest of his free time is devoted to sleeping.

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