23rd Jul2019

‘Blade Runner 2019 #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Michael Green, Mike Johnson | Art by Andres Guinaldo | Published by Titan Comics


For a quick ten points, any idea why Titan have chosen now to launch this book? No Google, please. Yep, that’s right, 2019 was the year that Harrison Ford’s Blade Runner movie was set. Seems very appropriate. Not only to launch this 12 issue maxi-series, as they used to be called, but also to launch an entire Blade Runner set universe of comics and graphic novels, all in continuity too. Seems pretty amazing, considering the cult status Blade Runner has, this hasn’t been at least attempted before. I remember Marvel had a Blade Runner adaptation back in the day, but it just regurgitated the film back in panel form, so nothing much original has surfaced apart from the recent Blade Runner 2049 movie. You can tell Titan mean business as they have brought Blade Runner 2049 screenwriter Michael Green on board, along with science fiction comics veteran Mike Johnson. Let’s take a look.

The first few pages set the scene nicely. This is very much the cinematic Blade Runner world we saw. Technologically advanced, but morally bankrupt. Shining towers and seedy underbelly. We are thrown straight away into an exchange between Detective Ashina, a Blade Runner, and a captured replicant called Benny. Benny has murdered 5 people, and has no future and Ash is testing his free will, his ability to make judgements. He can either kill himself, or be painfully taken apart for collectors. In a particularly gruesome finish, Benny shows replicants can be as stubborn as any human. Replicant hunting has gone a bit quiet of late, so Ash is persuaded to take on the case of a missing wife and child until things pick up. Not just any wife and child though, those of the hugely powerful head of the Canaan Corporation, Alexander Selwyn. A man you don’t say no to.

Selwyn lives in Santa Barbara, so a trip out of the city is in order, in those super cool flying cars. Santa Barbara has been deliberately flooded, and the wealthy now live on estates that are islands, to distance themselves from the great unwashed. Clean air, real materials like oak, the ability to make anything your heart desires. Safety if not freedom. Selwyn tells Ash he selected her as he knew she was honest, not corrupt like most (apart from that selling replicant body parts on the side business of course). His wife and daughter have gone missing after a party for Lydia Tyrell (surname ring a bell?), as has the chauffeur. Although Selwyn seems sincere, he also seems a tad shifty, and his cryptic comment about his ‘exceptional’ daughter seems a little creepy. Or strange. Or both.

Ash, as we have already seen, is a pretty decent detective, and she excels because she has to mix with the rabble, the people living at the bottom, which is a place she came from and is respected for. She traces down leads until she discovers the missing crashed speeder, with the chauffeur murdered. I won’t spoil everything but revelations follow both concerning Ash, who’s job as a Runner comes into clearer focus when we discover something unexpected about her, and we catch up with Mrs. Selwyn and her daughter, seemingly wandering around the lower levels of the city looking for someone of something. Let’s just say Mrs. Selwyn is not quite as helpless as we first thought, and Ash may be more than we first thought. Nice and cryptic, just like Blade Runner should be.

This was an excellent first issue, both story and art. It truly felt like an extension of the film, the atmosphere and locations, which was due to both the excellent words and pictures transporting us there. The first person narration was spot on, as was the detective noir/ cyberpunk spirit of the film, and the storyline promises to be one that gives up ever increasing secrets and surprises. It is not as easy as it looks to take a very familiar world and bring your own unique story to it, but the creative team here do it in spades. I almost expect to see Deckard stroll past in the background, so seamless is the integration of this story and these characters. Green and Johnson’s affection for the source material is clear, and they are lucky that Guinaldo’s art enhances the style, the look and feel, of their writing perfectly.

People who aren’t who they seem, both ‘good’ people and ‘bad’, has always been the theme running through Blade Runner, and this is what we get here.

A big old slice of lovely cyberpunk. Tasty.

***** 5/5

Blade Runner 2019 #1 ia available now from all good comic stores.


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