One of the most fascinating panels from this year’s San Diego Comic Con came from Titan Comics’ Blade Runner 2019 creator roundtable. What made it so interesting, in a nutshell, is that the creators of the book agreed that what made writing Blade Runner 2019 so liberating was the fact there isn’t a long line of sequels, prequels, and trilogies to honor and reference. This isn’t Star Wars. It allowed for more creative freedom when populating the Blade Runner universe with new stories and further worldbuilding. Blade Runner 2019 #9 is a perfect example of this.
While the latest issue of the series is being presented as a new jumping on point for fans, there’s no doubt the book is aimed at readers that have been following the story since day one. I won’t spoil the story up to this point, but know that the kidnapping case that sets off the events of the entire series are still influencing the path the main character, Ash, is on.
Operating outside the legal confines of Blade Runners, Ash lands on a new problem that threatens to derail her search for answers involving old clusters of replicants hiding in old but familiar places and long lost projects coming up to the surface once more. Some of these parts of the story allow for accessibility but are still reliant on the previous developments. Not an easy jump in.
The creative team of Michael Green, Mike Johnson, and artist Andres Guinaldo do manage to keep the dark neon world of Blade Runner welcoming. In fact, Guinaldo’s work alone is enough to justify the buy. Issue #9 sees a return to the Los Angeles we’ve come to know and love from the movies and Guinaldo takes extra care to revisit classic locations with both nostalgia and new mysteries leading the way.
There’s a scene where Ash flies over the ruins of the Tyrell Corporation that’s particularly impressive due to how imposing it still manages to be regardless of its current state. Green and Johnson’s scripting put Guinaldo in a position to carry a lot of the storytelling on visuals alone. In fact, one of the things this comic does well is not overwhelm the pages with text. The comic genuinely plays to the idea that dystopic LA is its own character.
While the Phillip K. Dick sci-fi vibes are definitely present in this new story arc, I was pleasantly surprised to find a bit of horror thrown into the mix. Ash meets a group of zombie-like replicants that put their own spin on synthetic body horror, subtly but effectively. There’s the potential for even more disturbing replicant designs as the story moves forward.
The same pulp sensibilities of the previous entries and the movies is still present and it helps emphasize each small happening into a crucial and story-defining development. In a world where change comes at the cost of humanity, these things matter. Green, Johnson, and Guinaldo do a good job of capturing it all and giving it the time it deserves.
Blade Runner 2019 #9 is not as simple a jumping on point as it suggests it is, but if it inspires people to go back and read the first issues then it is hitting all the right notes. This series is a treasure trove of cyberpunk storytelling and any excuse it gives readers to explore it is a good one.
Script: Michael Green & Mike Johnson, Art: Andres Guinaldo
Story: 9.0 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5
Recommendation: Read or reread Blade Runner 2019 issues 1-8, then read #9
Titan Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review