18th Feb2020

‘Blade Runner 2019 #6′ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

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

blade-runner-2019-6-cover

Second story arcs are always tricky, maintaining that initial enthusiasm and buzz, but the new story arc Green and Johnson started last issue was a doozy. They took all the things that everyone really enjoyed from the first 4 issues, and there was a lot to enjoy, and…threw it all out. Yep. No coasting on their watch. Although Ash and Cleo are still our main protagonists, this is several years on and they are very different, and in a very different place, both physically and mentally. After the events of the first four issues, they had gone on the run, ending up on a lunar ore-mining station staffed by Replicants, where they eked out a living. However, seismic changes had come in 2022 when all Replicant production was banned, with already existing units allowed to live out their life spans. That’s good, right?

Not so fast. Good in some ways of course, The Tyrell Corporation going bust being one of them. The bad? A sense among some Replicants of their own mortality more than ever, of their eventual extinction. To that end, some have rebelled, and unfortunately for Ash and Cleo, one Replicant, Pellam, targeted their station, and killed all the humans on it. Ash survived through luck, and Cleo purely because she had befriended a Replicant, Padraic. The two , though, are now separated, and neither knows the other is even alive. We knew from last issue this was going to expand the Blade Runner universe, and it’ll be interesting to see just how much. For now, this time round, we start with a flashback.

Its 2020, and we check back in on Cleo and Ash when they were more recognisable, younger, less jaded, and looking for that off world haven. Cut to the present, Ash is beat up and hurt on the crashed ship, Cleo (known to everyone as a boy called Rabbit of course) is on the Replicants ship with Padraic. Both find themselves in tough situations. Cleo has been told to help Pellam and his ship avoid the authorities, with her purloined access codes, or she’ll be thrown into space. Ash, meanwhile, is being interrogated by someone who, unfortunately, recognises her for who she really is and knows she is still wanted for the murder of Isobel Selwyn. Hythe, the interrogator, is also a Blade Runner, and knows that Ash was one of the best. She probably suspects that Ash was set up as well, and this works out well for Ash as interest converge nicely.

Hythe knows Pellam has Cleo, albeit he doesn’t know just how valuable Cleo really is. She wants her rescued, as does Ash, so makes Ash a deal. Hythe will get Ash out of her wheelchair, get the bionic back brace fired up, and get her back in action to find Cleo. By the end of the issue the more familiar Blade Runner Ash is back, tired of running and all set to hunt down Replicants. Cleo, of course, has enough smarts to do enough to both keep her head down, and to keep feeding enough bits of assistance to her captors to keep her important enough to stay alive. She is clearly not happy aboard a ship of Replicants though, not surprising considering her history. Luckily for her, help’s a -coming. Let’s hope she can keep her head down until then.

Another strong issue, well paced and laid out both visually and narratively. As always, suspicion is everywhere. We never quite know who we should be rooting for. Is Hythe as trustworthy as she seems? Do the pirate Replicants have a right to their freedom? Are they the villains here? Any book that makes you think things over after reading it is always worth its weight in gold.

A philosophical science fiction action noir. Green and Johnson are creating their own genre now. I, for one, am all in.

**** 4/5

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