reviews

Blade Runner 2019 vol. 2: Off World (Blade Runner #2) by Titan Publishing Book Review

Write on: Tue, 01 Feb 2022 by  in Charles' New Reviews Read 407

4/5

BLADE RUNNER 2019 VOLUME TWO is the second graphic novel in the BLADE RUNNER graphic novel series released by Titan books. These serve as a prequel series to BLADE RUNNER 2049 and follow a story over roughly ten years of time. It's a hefty time skip but quite effective in its handling of the subject matter. It is a dark, gritty, noir series that I think benefits from the extensive time skip.

The premise is that Aahna "Ash" Ashina was the best Blade Runner in Los Angeles when she was dragooned into working for an insane corporate executive, Selwyn, out to recover his missing daughter, Cleo. Realizing that he was no good for her and "rescuing" the girl from a bunch of Replicants trying to protect her, Ash has since taken the girl to the offworld colonies in order to protect her.

Unfortunately, life in the offworld colonies isn't like it was described in the brochure. Ash can't live among the super rich due to Selwyn's goons still looking for her and couldn't afford it even if she could. As such, she lives a life among the Replicants with her "son" Ian (who is the disguised Cleo). It is a miserable and demanding life but has hardened Cleo and also kept her safe from those who would experiment on her.

I was briefly curious whether Cleo was trans or identified with her adopted gender, but it appears that it was merely dressing as the opposite gender for her safety. It's a shame because the comic is quite good at touching on social issues while not distracting from its dark and gritty world-building. We never got to see what life in the offworld colonies was like in Blade Runner, so this is genuinely building.

Life in the offworld colonies is hot and miserable for Replicants with many of them dying regular horrible deaths in attempting to terraform worlds for human habitation. It results in regular revolts by the Replicants up there and Blade Runners are employed as corporate assassins there. It is a lot of well-done new material that adds to, rather than detracts, from the setting. Still, I would have loved to have seen some of the luxurious super-rich lifestyle in action that is hinted at but never shown on-panel.

The story is full of lot of twists and turns with Replicant revolutionaries, a corporate sponsored Blade Runner every bit as good as Ash, and the seemingly resurrected Isobel Selwyn. I really liked the character of Hythe that proves to be able to match wits and gunplay with Ash. It's a nice reminder of just how far she's come from the Replicant hating bigot of the first volume while also having a few twists of their own.

The art is excellent, though I think it lacks something by being in space rather than in the huge cities of the first volume. It's still a fantastic book and I am eager to find out what happens in the climax of the third volume. A ten-year time skip is a lot for a book like this but not something that I am against either. Too many comic books don't have any real sense of progression and this is a nice aversion.

I didn't like this installment quite as much as I liked the original graphic novel because it moved away from film noir to straight science fiction. However, there's still plenty to like about this comic and the ending promises a return to the rain-soaked cyberpunk dystopia of Los Angeles.

Available here

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 February 2022 22:39
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.

Website: https://ctphipps.wordpress.com/