25th Feb2021

‘Blade Runner: Origins #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by K Perkins, Melloe Brown, Mike Johnson | Art by Fernando Dagnino | Published by Titan Comics

You can of course never have enough of a good thing. With Blade Runner, this is most definitely true. The ongoing Blade Runner 2019/ 2029 book has been superb, building a world that is pure living and breathing dystopian heaven. The central character of Blade Runner Ash has been a treat, but for me the real star has been the world building. We can see what this world is, the dirt, the squalor, the crime riddled streets. Every story so far has just oozed atmosphere. So, a natural question would be how did it get like this. The Blade Runner movie, set in 2019, hinted at the things that came before, as has the Blade Runner comic series, but someone has decided we need to shine that particular spotlight a little more brightly. I, for one, say yes please.

So, Blade Runner: Origins is set in 2009. The Tyrell Corporation is starting its rise to corporate dominance with the perfection of the next phase of robotic evolution, the Replicant. This is truly a game-changer, essentially a slave class that will do whatever is needed. Off world labour, domestic servant, combat, mankind can now outsource danger. As we now know, some Replicants got just a little too self aware and rebelled or escaped from servitude. This led to the creation of the Blade Runner units, tasked with hunting them down. Ever wondered who the first accredited Runner was? Time to find out.

The Siege of Kalanthia, 2007, is our entry point. A Replicant attack that left a lot of people dead. One that survived, perhaps the only one, is Cal Moreaux. Flash forward two years, and Moreaux is a detective in the LAPD, and his involvement with Tyrell is coming full circle. A Tyrell Engineer has killed herself, and Moreaux’s boss wants it written up discreetly, signed off as an open and shut case. So, a stooge. The good news is, nobody gets into Tyrell property usually that doesn’t work for them, so Moreaux’s got that to look forward to. Once there, Moreaux finds the body still hanging, her lab assistant with her. Just as he starts to ask questions, a corporate suit, Ilora Stahl, bursts in to take over. She makes it clear no questions will be answered either now or later, and throws in some veiled threats for good measure. That’s our Tyrell Corporation.

Moreaux has this clear sense he is being set up to fall here. If he signs off on the ‘suicide’ it’s on him and his conscience. If he doesn’t, he could lose his job, his friends, and his seriously ill sister in hospital will suddenly find treatment very hard to find. Life, as they say, can be a bitch. As he walks home and wrestles with his conscience, a good man asked to do a bad thing, there is someone waiting outside his home. It’s Marcus, the brother of the dead woman. He tells Moreaux that his sister was killed because of what she knew, that she was going to reveal what was going on at Tyrell. What’s more, he knows he is being followed and is worried for his own life. One attempt on Marcus’s life later Moreaux knows which way this is all going. Just wait until the just escaped Nexus 5 Replicant prototype finds him…

This story didn’t miss a beat, organically sliding into place alongside the other films and comics in the franchise. It just felt…right. This is already a society in deep moral decline, and Tyrell were just the match that lit the final flame. It’s a nasty place, corruption rife and money the only authority. Good men like Moreaux are identified and sacrificed, as they are not ‘one of them’. The writers, who include the main book writer Mike Johnson, with co-creator Michael Green as a consultant here, have crafted the beginning of a fine murder mystery, with a conflicted hero and a cast made up of people you just don’t know to trust or not. You feel for Moreaux, as this is not a world that rewards the right people. The artwork by Fernando Dagnino is stunningly good, even better than the main book. A couple of the panels are ridiculously incredible to look at. The colours by Marco Lesko are also perfect, creating the murky, grungy look we all know and love. Wouldn’t want to live there though.

So, if you love your dystopian sci-fi detective noir, this is the book for you.

And me.

****½ 4.5/5

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