06th Oct2021

‘Blade Runner 2029 #8’ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

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

Yotun this, Yotun that, I guess you think this book is about you (with apologies to Carly Simon). Yotun certainly is centre stage in this arc, and why not? He’s either a messiah or a terrorist, depending on your point of view. Do the ends ever justify the means? That’s exactly what writer Mike Johnson wants you to consider. Blade Runner, after all, is all about shades of gray. For now, Yotun seems to be on the wrong side. He’s been leading a Replicant guerrilla army in a wave of terrorism, has kidnapped Ash, forced Freysa into working for him, and now has taken over the hugely symbolic landmark, the LAPD HQ. It’s all gone Yotun. (Pete Tong? get it? I’ll stop now)

Ash seems to genuinely be the only hope now, as a wave of anarchy sweeps across Los Angeles as the Replicants rise up. As Yotun basks in the seemingly inevitable victory, something interesting happens. He coughs up blood. Maybe the long living Yotun is not quite as immortal as he seems after all. Freysa’s pretty disgusted by this revelation. It seems that old Nexus 6 Yotun has been feeding on the blood of Nexus 8’s to survive. As Freysa points out, they aren’t his people, they are his food source. Gross. He’s exploiting these Replicant followers all the time he’s preaching against human exploitation of Replicants. Looks like messiah Yotun is something of a hypocrite, though he doesn’t see it that way. He’s needed to lead, and any which way that need is met is fine.

We now move into Die Hard territory, as Ash breaks into the LAPD building through the basement and starts to take out groups of Yotun’s soldiers as she moves upwards floor by floor to find Yotun and Freysa. Ash is starting to see what Freysa already has. Yotun isn’t wanting to free Replicants, he is wanting to have control himself. They will just swap one master for another. Yotun, though, is still trying to sell his dream, and he’s going mainstream with it. He sends out a general broadcast, televised across the city, telling Replicants and poor humans alike this is about taking down the rich elites of the city. Replicants and average humans should combine to topple their physical and economic overlords, and build a new utopia. Naturally Replicants will be the dominant ones but they will be benevolent gods. Just as he may have been persuading some, the feed cuts out. Freysa’s had enough.

Freysa’s commitment to opposing Yotun wobbled a little last issue, as she found he does indeed talk a good talk. Now, though, she’s seen him for what he is. Which is probably why he savagely gouges out one of her eyes. Nice guy. Ash has been steadily fighting her way up, and has realised that the reason Yotun is drawing so much attention to him being in the building, is to attract as many LAPD officers back to the building as possible. Then blow it up. No police, even corrupt ones, means the city will be his. Ash makes it to the comms centre and has a terrible choice to make. Take down Yotun, or save Freysa. Ironically for Yotun, he’s saved by Ash’s humanity, as she elects to save Freysa. He’s escaped for now, but he’s played every card in his hand. Will it be enough?

Breathless stuff this issue, like an episode of a TV show like 24 that just doesn’t let up for the entire hour. Plenty of action and excellent characterisation, though maybe slightly too much exposition going on. Yotun verged at times on being one of those old Republic serial villains who says too much. Ash, though we didn’t see a huge amount of her, was the Ash we know and love, a true force of nature. Yotun, too, was exposed for what he really is. Not a messiah, just a very naughty Replicant. Great writing as always from Mike Johnson, and nice expressive layouts and lines from Andres Guinaldo. Cinematic in tone both with the writing and visuals.

Ash has certainly done a lot of running this arc, though I suspect after what Yotun did to Freysa this issue, we’ll be seeing more of the blade next time out.

Can’t wait.

**** 4/5


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