For a vast array of cinephiles, Blade Runner remains the high benchmark for sci-fi storytelling, expansive practical effects work, dystopian world building and morally gray character study. It helped kick off the cyberpunk subgenre, inspired a slew of likeminded anime, and helped challenge our conceptions of what a studio film could be. Ridley Scott, the then-visionary director who just three years prior had captivated audiences within his spine-tingling space horror film Alien, helped bring the dystopian futurescape suggested by Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (also the author of Minority Report, Man in the High Castle) to bleak, rain-drenched, neon life.
With Blade Runner 2019, publisher Titan Comics (Robotech, Tank Girl) as well as writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson seek to reimmerse fan into the neo-noir world Scott introduced almost four decades prior. Green (an Academy Award nominated screenwriter on Logan) is well versed in this particular IP, having also had a hand in scripting the critically-acclaimed cinematic sequel, Blade Runner 2049.
As one might expect, the story begins with an eponymous Blade Runner (android bounty hunter for the uninitiated) retiring a “skin job,” otherwise known as a Replicant. The Blade Runner to whom we’re introduced — Aahna Ashina, or Ash for short — means to make some quick cash on the side selling the synthetic organs of her victims on the collector’s market. And she would have, had recent mark Benny not destroyed his very valuable eye as one final act of self-defiance. Ash (whose name may or may not be in reference to Scott’s android antagonist from Alien) finds herself in a bit of a financial hole due to surgical debt courtesy of bionic enhancements that require regular maintenance. As she continues to veil her artificial side from her peers, her boss assigns her a rather peculiar missing persons case (spoilers ahead). The wife and daughter of Canaan Corporation founder Alexander Selwyn disappeared, their trusted driver discovered dead near the city viaduct. Is there more to Selwyn’s daughter than meets the eye? Will Ash be able to save Selwyn’s family before it’s too late? Will she be able to save herself?
Titan has truly been bringing their A game with regard to sci-fi EUs as of late. Last year’s Alien: The Cold Forge (courtesy of Titan Books) is likely the best prose Alien novel shy of an Alan Dean Foster film novelization, and this early entry issue of Blade Runner 2019 appears to be cut from the same cloth. Marvel alum Andrés Guinaldo wondrously illustrates panels featuring angels pulled straight from the original film whilst Green and Johnson craft a plot that’s rife with the promise of action/intrigue unique to the genre.
Blade Runner 2019 hits the ground running in what looks to be a must-read new entry in the franchise.