The past few issues of Blade Runner 2029 have been heavily focused on Yotun. It’s not surprising considering the severity behind his entrenched zealotry and extremist actions. He sees himself as a cure, shifting the societal paradigm in his favour as the city of Los Angeles spirals into a terrifying descent of chaos.
That thematic essence is still present in its latest issue. Nothing sends a chill down your spine like reading Yotun’s interpretation of Eldon Tyrell’s Replicant program – a way for Tyrell to beautify his nightmares by creating a being worthy of his legacy. The analogy is simple – this is a character who is too far gone. The lines crossed irredeemable to the point where this battle can only end one way (if it is to be expected). But it’s not the only driving factor. At the heart of issue #7 is the return of the female perspective. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a necessary move that helps underpin the characters and the stakes involved. After all, it’s better to have something than nothing at all.
And the stakes are massive – a powerless city on fire, a hellbent Replicant feeding into the fierce rage of his beliefs and a Detective on a mission to rescue the woman she loves. But the approach writer Mike Johnson adopts comes with profound confidence in the storytelling, knowing he has the time and space to execute the emotions at play. Because to understand the current circumstances, we must venture into the past.
It opens with a flashback to 2011, a young, twenty-one-year-old Ash sitting in Police headquarters and interrogated by Detective Wojciech. Seeing Wojciech again is a welcome return knowing the role she still plays in the series (however brief that is). But her re-introduction serves as a foreshadow to the future.
What’s fascinating is how this moment plays into Ash’s psychology, knowing how much that cybernetic back brace has defined her over the years. To be suddenly cured by Yotun after being so conditioned by the pain takes some adjusting. And as the reader can imagine, Johnson’s writing is laced with confliction and a hint of vulnerability. You wish it dwelled on this moment for longer, but Andres Guinaldo’s artwork showcases briefly how solemn this transformation is. In one panel, it’s akin to grief, knowing she has to redefine herself again. It’s given her a new lease of life, but the doubting question will always be, at what cost? How does this change (if anything) the dynamic she has with Freysa?
READ MORE: Candyman (2021) – Film Review
The biggest triumph from the issue is not Ash and her steely determination to get her lover back. That was expected. Inevitable even. Issue #7 corrects a longstanding concern and gives Freysa her overdue investment in the story. We finally hear her voice. Fresya’s backstory is given a profound reflection as a combat medic in the battle of Mesa Echo Erebus. Guinaldo serves this exploration with a deftly executed reveal, pulling back panel by panel until it reveals the scale and visual traumas of war with a double-page spread. Freysa’s use here is all about compassion finding humanity in those darkest corners, even in the threat towards her own life. And again, in a clever bit of paralleled foreshadowing, her experience in war is comparable to the trojan horse actions at the hands of Yotun.
You do hope that Freysa’s story continues beyond this point. When we have been blessed in getting to know Ash throughout her identity changes, there’s so much untapped scope in Freysa, and this series has barely scratched the surface. Compassion is one thing. Showcasing a vulnerable, life-changing moment from that war is another. But her fate is still tied to Yotun’s actions, opening up old wounds by revealing a connecting truth about Mesa Echo Erebus. It still feels a little bit too convenient instead of letting the duelling ideologies play out a bit more. Besides brief moments in 2019 where her stance was evident, this is an open war declaration on Freysa’s beliefs and what she stands for as a co-habitant existence with humans. To make this feeling whole, we need to see her respond to this challenge.
READ MORE: Dune (1984) – Blu-ray Review
It feels like the chapter is on the threshold of achieving something more, with Johnson using this to blur between the lines between humans and Replicants. And the women of Blade Runner 2029 (albeit separately) are slowly coming to terms with that reconciliation. To borrow a quote from The X-Files, issue #7 comes full circle to find the truth. With the past acknowledged, it’s the future that’s ready for the taking. And in classic fashion, in how each chapter concludes, it continues to be an engaging and exciting entry into the series.
Blade Runner 2029 #7 is out now from Titan Comics.