14th Oct2019

‘Blade Runner 2019 #4′ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

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

bladerunner-2019-4-cover

Time to check back in with everyone’s second favourite Blade Runner, Aahna Ashina (that’s a whole lot of the letter A). With this issue she’s only been around for four in total, but she’s become such a great rounded out character she feels as though she’s always been there, doing her thing in the background of the mainstream Blade Runner universe. She’s also been beaten up, blown up, and fired in the space of three issues. Tough love from her creators Michael Green and Mike Johnson right there.

Quick recap time, as so much has happened up to now you need a scorecard to keep up. Essentially Ash has been investigating the disappearance of Isobel and Cleo Selwyn, wife and daughter of corporate bigwig Alexander Selwyn. She learns that his wife, Isobel, is actually a Replicant, created for him by the Tyrell Corporation, but his daughter Cleo is human, although she believes her mother to also be human. Boo Tyrell Corporation, hurray Replicant underground right? Actually, not so fast. Tyrell claim that the Replicants want Cleo for a mutant gene she has that may help stop Replicants ageing and dying so fast, so they are the bad guys. Who is telling the truth here? Ash needs to know, and heads off to an island, El Sanctuario, home to a whole population of Replicants.

Ash finds Isobel and Cleo, and tells Cleo she is taking her home. The Replicants obviously beg to differ. Ash isn’t particularly popular either, word having spread that she dabbled in selling Replicant parts after killing them. Oops. This is going to get messy. Actually, no it’s not, as the Replicant community are a lot less violent that Ash was prepared for, and Isobel has some information she wishes to share. Turns out the Tyrell Corporation wasn’t as upfront and honest with Ash as they claimed. Cleo was given to the Tyrell Corporation as their ward, in return for Tyrell giving Selwyn an endless supply of Isobel Replicants, essentially replacing her every time she was due to ‘die’. Cleo’s genome is indeed real, though the Replicants claim it is Tyrell that wants it, not them. Just as Ash tries to decide who is telling the truth, Selwyn arrives.

I say Selwyn, but probably the armoured troop carrier he arrives in is more relevant. He’s come for Cleo, and the Replicants know they can’t allow that. They fight bravely, but a massacre ensues, and Isobel realises that Cleo’s only chance is for Ash to take her off the island. She will have to stay and fight. Over several pages Green & Johnson write a beautiful monologue, an insight into Isobel’s mind, almost reminiscent of Rutger Hauer’s in the film. Her love for her daughter is absolute, she has so many treasured memories to cherish. Yet none are real. All are fabricated to allow her to bond with Cleo. Is her love programmed, or has she transcended being a fake human to experience real love? Whichever answer is right, her sacrifice is the same, a mother laying down her life for her child. Ash and Cleo do escape, and the epilogue has promises of horizons new, but it is the sacrifice of Isobel and the Replicants that stays in the mind.

A great final issue to a four issue story arc that had a bit of everything. We had some nice sci-fi, some cyber punk, some detective noir, some great action, and a little philosophy, which is of course what Phillip K Dick threw in there. Consistently strong writing by the team of Green & Johnson throughout, especially in developing their very own Blade Runner (albeit currently a fugitive one), and great art and colouring by Andres Guinaldo and Marco Lesko that always complemented the story. The entire book felt very cinematic, which I’m guessing is what they were going for, and never disappointed. Let’s hope there are many more adventures for Ash Ashina in the very near future.

Rather like the Replicants she used to hunt, Ash definitely deserves more life.

***** 5/5

Blade Runner 2019 #4 is out now from Titan Comics.

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