19th Nov2020

‘Blade Runner 2019 #12’ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Mike Johnson | Art by Andres Guinaldo | Published by Titan Comics

So, this is the wrap up of what has been essentially one over arching storyline, albeit one split between three story arcs. A beginning, middle, and end if you will. The best thing this first year has done has been to both world-build and to tell a damn good story at the same time. Not only that, to do both in a pretty authentic feeling Blade Runner setting too. Ash has been the perfect lead character too. Flawed, stubborn, proud, brave and persistent in equal measure, she’s as close as this dystopian society gets to a hero. At least she tries to do the right thing. Let’s hope she survives the end of her own story.

So, we’ve seen Ash arrested by the LAPD, broken out by the Replicant Resistance, inadvertently helped by a mad scientist and tracked the whole time by industrialist and living proof that power corrupts, Alexander Selwyn. As Ash recuperates with the leader of the resistance, Freysa, who repairs her back brace, we learnt that Selwyn has become a bigger threat than even Tyrell was, with his illegal manufacture of new Replicants. After an attack on them that took out a lot of the resistance, but allowed Ash and Freysa to escape, it was obvious the fight had to be taken to Selwyn, and Ash fi9nds herself in his Santa Barbara mansion, face to face with Selwyn, and several Replicant versions of Hythe. Feels kind of like a final showdown to me.

The first few pages are what you would expect, a little bit of exposition here, a little bit of fighting multiple Replicant Hythe’s there. Did I mention the Replicant lion? Ash does well to hold her own, but barely. She tries to make a break for it, but Selwyn and his Replicants catch up. Unfortunately, he has an Ace up the sleeve. Ash’s spinal back brace, the one she relies on to be able to move, was is actually Selwyn property. This upgrade was given to her by the original Hythe way back. Seems Selwyn has a kill switch. Time’s up for Ash it seems. What’s a good story, though, without the arrival of the cavalry? This time the cavalry just happen to be Selwyn’s daughter Cleo and wife (albeit Replicant copy of) Isobel. They were supposed to be long gone, but Cleo couldn’t just give up on Ash, after all she had done for her.

We then get the most bizarre family reunion you’ll see for quite a time. Selwyn, the father who agreed to give his daughter over for experimentation at Tyrell, said daughter Cleo a living bridge of sorts between human and Replicant, and wife Isobel, this version being the second Replicant copy of the dead original. Selwyn, it seems, genuinely wants Cleo and Isobel to be back with him as a real family, to pick up where it all went wrong and try again. Selwyn’s self-delusion aside, this is actually quite the Shakespearean tragedy when you think about it, and it can only end one way. Deaths occur, though possibly not the ones you may expect. We get a happy ending of sorts, though only the happiest possible within the constraints some characters find themselves in. Ash survives of course, and although she has been the main focus of this story I think when all is said and done Cleo is the real hero. It’s been a fun ride with both of them.

This has been a superb 12 issues of genre-mash up fun. We’ve had sci-fi, dystopian future, crime noir, thriller, police procedural, odd couple, hero’s quest, and pyrrhic victory. If there is a button Johnson and Green have pressed it. So many ingredients shouldn’t really work and yet they do, seamlessly. It’s been a story that has encompassed established Blade Runner mythology, and allowed the characters to develop and grow along the way. Especially Ash. Her world view now is forever changed, and yet she is both freed and shackled by her knowledge at the same time. Ash has a lot more to show us yet. Guinaldo’s art from the very first issue has been essential to the feel of the book, given it that Blade Runner grungy, neon feel. An advanced society on one hand, yet full of slums and dirty side streets wherever you look. Pacing has always been perfect, and the backgrounds especially stand out for the work put in.

Blade Runner the comic book does exactly what Blade Runner the movie did. It shows us that the future ain’t what it used to be.

****½  4.5/5

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