• Blade Runner 2019 #8 (Titan Comics) Comic Review



    Released by: Titan Comics
    Released on: July 29th, 2020.
    Written by: Michael Green, Mike Johnson
    Illustrated by: Andres Guinaldo
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    The second story arc ends with this issue, but first? A quick recap. Ash was the only one to survive the Replicant attack on the off-world mining colony, through Cleo believed her to be dead and, with no other real options, joined the Replicant rebels. A new Blade Runner named Hythe, who has an arrest warrant for Ash, finds her but instead of arresting her, Hythe gives her back her back brace and offers to reinstate her... if she'll help find Cleo, Pellam and the other Replicant rebels. After a vicious gun battle, Hythe tells Ash that she wasn’t really working for the London Blade Runners but Isobel Selwyn, who Ash believed to be dead after she asked her to get Cleo off-world and away from her father, Alexander Selwyn.

    When issue eight begins, we flash back to the Los Angeles of 2000, where we learn how Ash’s mother abandoned here as a child when she left for a better life off-world. Ash couldn’t go due to her disability and so she was raised in the city by her grandmother.

    In 2026, the ‘modern day’ of the storyline, we see that Ash did in fact eventually make it off-world, where she catches up with Isobel, learning the truth about her origins and connections to her father’s business. This is tricky, because Ash was charged with Isobel’s murder, but Isobel appears to be able to prove she’s the real thing and she desperately wants her daughter back.

    Speaking of, we flashback a week where we see Cleo, now called Rabbit, and her Replicant pal Pellam at Ramanuja Station talking to The Hartawan about going to Arcadia. He tells her the next ship leaves in a week and that she’d better change her appearance if she wants on, and that it’s not a disguise, it’s a rebirth. Pellam confesses that he knows Cleo is female. We then move ahead a week, Isobel tells Ash she retired Pellam to get info on Cleo and was told only that she was ‘gone.’ They head to Ramanuja Station knowing that if she’s getting on a transport Cleo will have to do it here, and that’s where things get twisty so we won’t go any further in order to avoid spoilers.

    The story from Green and Johnson hits all the right notes at all the right times, feeling very much in synch with the Blade Runner universe we all know from the films while still managing to cut out its own unique story with its own cast of unique characters. A lot of the world building done in the seven issues that came before this one pays off here, with the second story arc culminating in some genuinely exciting twists and some pretty solid action as well, but not at the cost of the ever-important character development that’s been building steadily since the first issue. It’s great stuff, very smart and quite literate, highbrow sci-fi/cyberpunk that offers plenty of food for thought, dealing with the seemingly endless class war that’s been going on in this country for decades, the use of technology and cloning, gender roles and the value of human life but it never comes across as preachy or political, rather, just in touch with the way things have developed over time.

    Andres Guinaldo’s artwork continues to be a huge draw for this series. It’s rich in detail not just in the foregrounds and with the characters but in the backgrounds as well. His work helps bring this world to life in a big way, and he’s proven to be a major talent with this series. The characters look real, they ‘move’ like people move, their facial expressions convey emotion and register impact. On top of that, the layouts, including in this issue a fantastic double-page spread, while sticking to the traditional panel-based style most comic books adhere to, really do a great job of helping the story to properly flow. The coloring work that comes courtesy of Marco Lesko helps to add depth to the art and to make the backgrounds and characters feel more alive, and Jim Campbell’s lettering has an appropriately clean and almost futuristic style to it.

    Great stuff, this one has been firing on all cylinders since the first issue and eight issues later, the quality level on the title remains almost astoundingly high.