Descender and Ascender, a pair of acclaimed Image Comics series from writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dustin Nguyen, have been optioned for film and television at Lark Studios, a Canadian company owned by NBC Universal International. One of the only major studios without a significant superhero presence, Universal is likely hoping to build a science-fiction/fantasy franchise with the property, helping to bolster their coffers in the genre space. The project was previously optioned by Sony in 2015 -- back before Ascender, the second installment, was released as a comic -- but the rights presumably reverted to Lemire and Nguyen before anything went into prdouction. Sony is the film home of Spider-Man and Bloodshot, among others.
The plan is apparently to produce a TV series based on the comics, which Lark will oversee, with Lemire and Nguyen heavily involved. While the project did not get off the ground at Sony, nobody seemed to doubt that it would work in live action; before the Sony acquisition, there was a bidding war for it, and this time around, it didn't take long to find another buyer.
"The world of Descender and Ascender just keeps growing, and Dustin and I are very happy to be working with Lark to bring it to televisions screens as well," Lemire said in a statement. "Their passion for the comics and devotion to telling the story the right way has us both very excited."
"It's definitely going to be an entirely new adventure to see our characters come to life onscreen and share them with a whole new audience," Nguyen said.
"Descender is a beautifully crafted saga, examining the tolls of technology on nature and humanity, which feels very timely for television," added Erin Haskett, president of Lark Productions.
Descender centers on one young robot’s struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. The incredibly lifelike artificial boy, TIM-21, may hold the secrets deep in his machine DNA to the origin of robots that have decimated entire planets. As a result, he is the most-wanted robot in the universe. Before long the entire galaxy is looking for TIM-21 and his rag-tag group of unlikely companions, as they make their way from one exotic planet to the next with new foes advancing on them at every turn. in Ascender, a young girl from a magical world where machines aren't part of the everyday picture goes on a quest to find TIM-21.0comments
Descender ran for 32 issues between 2015 and 2018. Ascender launched in 2019.
Lemire who got his start in critically-acclaimed creator-owned comics, has more recently worked with mainstream publishers like DC and Valiant. Nguyen is best known for his work at DC, and notably on Li'l Gotham.
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.