19th Aug2020

‘Blade Runner 2019 #9’ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

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

Was last issue a happy ending? I think so. It took 8 issues and several years in-story, but Cleo finally got her happy ending, a new start with her ‘mother’ Cleo on Arcadia. Ash’s story was more of a mixed bag. On the plus side she regained her Blade Runner badge and status and her powered back brace that allowed her to walk again, and got to return to her old mean streets stomping grounds. On the bad, she’s still technically a wanted person, for kidnapping, her name is mud with her former colleagues, and she’s lost Cleo, the protection of whom gave her a sense of purpose and a human connection. She’s back home, but can you really go home again?

What’s the first thing anyone does, when they go home again? Look up old friends. Which is why Ash is waiting for her old boss, now retired LAPD Chief Lydia Wojciech, in her apartment. Tough as nails, hard as old boots, gruff and sarcastic, but also trustworthy and someone who knows where all the bodies are buried. Ash is looking for her original client, Alexander Selwyn, who she knows will not leave Cleo and Isobel alone until he finds them. They won’t be safe until he is found and, er, persuaded. Turns out Selwyn has disappeared from public view, making it even tougher than it was going to be anyway to find him. Just the way Ash likes it. Her old information networks need to be rebuilt up so, best place, to start? None other than the former HQ of the Tyrell Corporation.

The massive former HQ is now just a hollow shell, broken down and pretty much left to ruin. Which is probably why Ash let her guard down, and nearly paid for it with her life. She narrowly escapes a near feral pack of Replicants by being helped into a locked area by Fost, a Tyrell scientist that seems to think Tyrell is alive and that the Corporation is still up and running. Fost seems a little confused. Ash decides to use that, and tells Fost that Tyrell and Selwyn have sent her down there as they want to help Ash, as she is helping with the ‘Isobel’ Project. Fost buys it, and tells Ash to come and meet the team. The ‘team’ consists of rotting, never activated Replicants sitting around a table. Can’t see them being too much help.

Luckily, as addled as Fost seems to be, she does seem to still have access to the database Ash needs, so Ash can begin the process of tracking backwards to try and find Selwyn before he knows she’s coming. A great plan of course, except for the fact he already knows she is coming. Just good intelligence, or did Ash’s old boss give up some information for a payday after all? That’s something for another day. So, what’s Selwyn’s play? He decides to catch a Blade Runner, you hire a Blade Runner. The Blade Runner he has in mind is an interesting choice, considering the fact we’ve already seen her die once.

Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice once said.

So, once again Green & Johnson begin a new story arc but also make it clear it is very much part of the ongoing storyline running from the first issue. Although Cleo and Isobel are physically not present, they are still very much Ash’s focus, as is Selwyn himself. With the same writing and art team we’ve had since issue 1, this is still top notch entertainment. I feel as though I’ve known Ashina and her world a lot longer than a mere 9 issues. What makes the book work is not just the overarching plot and script, but the attention to detail, the characterisation, the ‘feel’ of the environment in this futuristic Los Angeles. Guinaldo’s art is pitch perfect as always, and the colouring always really adds to the atmosphere.

Although of course we have the sci-fi noir trappings, It is at heart a book about identity. In a world where you don’t know who is real or who you can trust, can you even trust yourself?

**** 4/5

Blade Runner 2019 #9 is released on August 26th, from Titan Comics.

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