ADVANCE REVIEW: After a long hiatus, Blade Runner 2019 returns, to end the mystery of its second arc
Writer: Michael Green & Mike Johnson, Art: Andres Guinaldo, Color: Marco Lesko, Lettering: Jim Campbell, Editor: David Leach.
Blade Runner 2019, the neo-noir story of Michael Green and Mike Johnson continues with issue #8, the final segment of its second arc. Former Blade Runner Ashina has no choice but to team up with Blade Runner Hythe in order to help search for Cleo. The young girl in boys clothing was taken along with replicants during a mutiny on an off-world mining colony a couple of issues ago. Cleo is not your ordinary little girl. She has spent a majority of her life with Ash, hiding in the shadows, pretending to be something she is not, honing cunning skills to survive. Ash has also had to hide who she once was, but the mutiny incident brought her existence out into the light and that is how British Blade Runner Hythe found her. Now the pair are hoping to find Cleo, to return her to her mother Isobel Selwyn.
Ash watched Isobel die on the beach in Blade Runner 2019 #4. She knows this isn't the Isobel she helped back then. Once again, Ash's pain, instincts and uncertainty of others rolls over the story and characters like a tidal wave. She can only trust herself and this has helped her get to where she is right now. Still, she's between a rock and a hard place here with wanting to find Cleo, but not die. So she decides to play the line for a time to see where it takes her. Meanwhile, the little rabbit is ahead of them with friend and replicant Padraic by her side. They're making their way to Arcadia, an off-world Eden of beauty and plenty, one way or another. Will Ash find Cleo in time? What are Isobel's true intentions? Is Hythe really who she says she is? All of this is answered in an action-packed ending to this interesting story arc.
Artist Andres Guinaldo and colorist Marco Lesko work to make the off-world locations like Ramanuja Station as gritty and desolate as possible. There are no bright neon lights taking over the power of the stars. Everything is muted. This is no place anyone wants to be, but it is where they have to be to get to wherever else they're needed. This feels very much like the ambience of the original Blade Runner film, with muted color tones in abundance. This second arc is truly its own, distinct from the first, which, in my opinion, was the better of the two. This story is certainly interesting, but it's not gripping. The air of a Blade Runner mystery is stale. You read with the hope of it getting better, but the ending leaves you wishing there had been more. Perhaps writers Green & Johnson jumped too quickly into this story and didn't have enough time to punch it up to be the one we desired. I hope the next story arc makes up for this as the character of Ashina and the Blade Runner brand merit a worthwhile new tale.
Blade Runner 2019 #8 is published by Titan Comics and is on sale July 29, 2020.