28th Jul2020

‘Blade Runner 2019 #8’ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

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

Incredibly, the last issue of this book that came out was back in March. Wonder what caused the delay…

As pleased as I am that the book is back up and running, it was definitely not a welcome break. Writers Green and Johnson construct their story arcs like a thriller, so each issue ratchets up the tension for the payoff. By having that 4 month delay between issues, that won’t be happening here. I guess the last issue will have to stand or fall on its own merits which, going by the previous seven issues of this book, shouldn’t be a problem.

What may be a problem is remembering just the heck where we reached up to before COVID-19 rudely interrupted us. In a nutshell Ash and Cleo had been separated, with Cleo reluctantly tagging along with a group of violent Replicant rebels. Ash had been reinstated as a Blade Runner by Hythe, a British Blade Runner, and they set after the rebels. After killing Pellam, the Replicant leader, Hythe revealed she was actually working for Isobel Selwyn. The same Isobel who had supposedly died after asking Ash to take her daughter Cleo away several years earlier, to hide her from her industrialist father Alexander Selwyn. See, NOW you remember.

We start with a brief flashback to Ash’s tragic youth, in which in the space of a few panels we understand her attachment to the rough streets she inhabits, and her need to protect Cleo. Back to 2026, and Ash is face to face with Isobel, looking very much alive. Isobel remember, was the Replicant replacement for Selwyn’s wife who had died, given to him by Dr. Tyrell. Selwyn’s deal with the Devil though involved handing over his daughter to Tyrell, which Replicant Isobel could not allow any more than the real woman she replaced would have allowed. Is this the Replicant Ash knew though, or another copy? While we ponder that, Cleo is busy arranging her passage to Arcadia, the off world promised land colony. To do so she has to stop pretending to be Rabbit, a boy, and also work out how to get her Replicant friend there as well.

Ash, Hythe and Isobel are now all on Cleo’s trail, though Ash is still not convinced it seems, as it emerges Selwyn had welcomed his wife back home and had been the one to engage Hythe to track her down. Hmm. Turns out everything’s as rotten as Ash guessed. Isobel did die back on that Beach, this one’s an upgrade, and Hythe’s not Ash’s friend at all, it was all a set up to get her to help hunt down Cleo. Only things aren’t as simple as that either. I won’t give away the ending, but we get a dramatic few pages to end on. Two deaths, a bittersweet happy ending of sorts, and Cleo and Ash separated again. We end this issue as we started the very first, Blade Runner Ash pounding the rainy neon lit streets of Los Angeles. The more things change…

Loved this issue, and really loved the way things were resolved. Green and Johnson kept the Blade Runner ‘feel’ throughout, no out and out happy endings here. Heroes need adversity, and Ash is the hero this time and place needs. What I especially love was the way this story arc seamlessly clicked together with the first four issue arc, and you realise this was actually all one big 8 issue storyline set over several years. Really great writing. Andres Guinaldo continues to be the ideal artist for this book, helped by the perfect muted colours utilised by colourist Marco Lesko. Not sure if the writers or artist break down the panels, but it’s always paced perfectly, and is just like a movie. Close ups, wide shots, nicely dramatic action scenes, and emotionally charged dialogue heavy panels.

Taken as one complete story over 8 issues, comics don’t get much better.

***** 5/5

Blade Runner 2019 #8 is out tomorrow from Titan Comics.

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