01st Jul2021

‘Blade Runner 2029 #5’ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

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

I’ve been enjoying the Blade Runner Origins book so much that I’ve found myself neglecting the main book, certainly in terms of reviews. Truth is, both books have been outstanding, really painting an authentic picture of the world we know and love/ hate from the films. It’s sci-fi noir at its finest. If you’ve not picked this book up before, it bookends nicely with the current Origins book. Whereas that is set before the original film and deals with the beginnings of the Blade Runner unit, this is set a decade after the original film, though still a good few years before the sequel. In the world as it stands in this book, the Tyrell Corporation has gone bust and is no more, following a Replicant attack. Many of the surviving Nexus 8 Replicants have gone underground, though many are still in use as servants and helpers. This is the world of our hero, Aahna Ashina, though we call her Ash.

Although Ash is a Blade Runner, her relationship with her corrupt colleagues and superiors is what you would expect. They would hate her even more if they knew that she is also romantically involved with Freysa, a leading member of the Replicant underground, and is caught between the two sides. Although happy to hunt down ‘bad’ Replicants, she also covertly helps ‘good’ ones escape. It’s a dangerous game she’s playing, complicated even more by the reappearance of Yotun. He’s a Replicant she failed to retire 12 years earlier, and he’s now the leader of a Replicant army. Oh, and he should be dead. His expiration date has come and gone, so what’s up with that? As Yotun and his army continue their killing spree in Los Angeles, Ash has found herself a prisoner in Yotun’s HQ. Seems as good a place as any to jump in.

We start, though, with the ramifications of Yotun’s destruction of LA’s seawall, and a reminder that artist Andres Guinaldo draws some of the most cinematic mid-air fight scenes you’ll ever see. We get a multi-page treat that’s every bit as good as anything you’ll see on the big screen. Mid-air fighting, leaping from hover car to hover car as they speed through the skies of LA, Yotun takes out quite the chunk of the LAPD officers chasing him, and knicks one of their vehicles just to rub salt in that particular wound. Ash is not yet aware of all this of course, her main priority being an escape attempt. Escape she does, but her escape attempt doesn’t really go anywhere. She realises that Yotun’s base is a disgustingly overused waste treatment plant, miles from the city itself, but to him symbolic of the decadence of the human population he wants to remove. It’s not a great advert for humanity it must be said.

Yotun, of course, has plans for Ash, which is why she is still alive. The first part is a kind of perverse ceremony designed to either redeem or punish her. In a barely conscious state, and tied to a chair, she is introduced to Replicant after Replicant. Nothing too odd there you may think, but these are all Replicants she previously retired. Not only are they not dead, they remember how she killed them. It’s all getting very Twilight Zone. That’s all bad enough, but the surprise Yotun has waiting for Ash is the real kicker. Let’s just say Yotun’s in the mood to give Ash a makeover.

Another fine issue. Always pitch perfect writing and art, letting the characters and dialogue carry the story with a minimum of exposition needed. You can disagree with Yotun’s methods, but you can understand why his philosophy is what it is. Guinaldo’s art ramps up the atmosphere throughout, and is at its best when there’s movement involved, it’s so kinetic, always the feeling of motion. We get plenty of larger panels this time round, allowing even more appreciation of the art. Writer and artist synergy at its finest.

Johnson writes a nicely balanced cautionary tale that has nice philosophical depths, and where nothing is ever black and white. I mean, who would you trust?

**** 4/5


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