In the past few issues of Blade Runner 2029, Mike Johnson’s writing has deliberately focused on Yotun’s extreme capabilities. As previously (and heavily) discussed, the zealot behaviour, the militant actions, and the terrifying bluntness to his beliefs have left a city on the brink of collapse.
Andres Guinaldo’s inspired, visionary artwork continues to set the benchmark for a Dystopian future that’s rewriting itself as a new world order. And while each issue continues to push the limit, the daring belief in Johnson’s writing is how relentless it can be. There’s no point where it pauses for a breather. There’s no level of catharsis it entertains that would alleviate the continual onslaught. But amidst the chaos, the destruction, and the countless murders in its grim opening, we’re reminded as readers that Yotun is not as invincible as he thinks he is.
It was only a matter of time before Yotun’s weakness and vulnerability would rear its ugly head. For someone whose brute-like force and power has been perpetuated as an emblem of his faith, he’s brought right back down to Earth.
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Living beyond his lifecycle might as well be an analogy for death, extending your life by any means necessary, regardless of the cost. Even Freysa calls him out on his hypocrisy for being a Replicant vampire and how willing his ‘soldiers’ were for giving up their blood for him. But in the brief moment that Johnson alludes to, it brings a discourse on mortality. Ironically, being reminded of your frailties instead of the powerful entity you’re perceived to believe in is a very human response! One way or another, time catches up with us all.
And that becomes a running theme throughout issue #8. It’s enveloped in a sense of urgency. It won’t be long before the police re-mobilise to take back the LAPD Headquarters. It won’t be long before Ash finds her way through the building to rescue her lover. And Yotun – living on borrowed time – tries to cement the legacy of his mission. With such limitations on the comic book format (due to the fixed number of pages to tell its story), its latest chapter upholds a tricky balance.
On one hand, issue #8 is an action aficionado’s dream for its swiftness and its occasional moments of understated poetic symbolism when Ash suggests that the “off-world wars have come home”. On the other, that philosophical edge, that driving element that has defined and progressed the series so far, takes a notable back seat. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’ve had months of thoughtful analysis and societal comparisons. And issue #8 has permitted itself to shift away from the norm for a more straightforward encounter. But it ends up losing more than it bargained for, and that’s evident in the relationship between Yotun and Freysa.
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Considering that Freysa is still finding her voice within this chapter, there’s undoubtedly a missed opportunity to delve more into the warring ideologies between her and Yotun. What’s absent is that poignancy, a reflection – especially for Freysa – to put her shared past with Yotun into perspective. 2029 has gone to considerable lengths to understand Yotun’s nature behind his brand of terror. We know that Yotun’s beliefs are unshakeable.
There’s no reasoning with his ethics or morality when it’s not afforded for anyone else except himself. But how does the revelation shape Freysa? Does it contradict or conflict with her beliefs in any way? Could Yotun’s proposition for her to join his ranks tempt her? (And this is without her knowledge that her lover Ash was ‘cured’ by Yotun from wearing her cybernetic back brace). As a reader, you don’t expect immediate answers. This is a story that is willing to take its time in revealing those inner truths and the emotional consequences that these characters have to wrestle with. But it’s telling when that aspect is missing in this instance, and Yotun is doing most of the vocal engagement.
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What’s presented is more of an antagonistic affair. Every traded blow as Yotun prepares to speak to ‘his subjects’ as ruler of the new world, only ramps up the action before revealing a shocking, brutal reality that feels all too prevalent and visceral when it comes to violence against women (which I had to pause before continuing).
But it makes you wonder whether issue #8 could have been split into a two-parter, building sufficient time for its characters, making the build-up to Yotun’s on-the-air broadcast more terrifying and its dramatic beats landing harder knowing the emotional cost at play. There’s still satisfaction to be had, but it also feels too quick, resolved with an essence that it was just getting started before concluding.
Thankfully, we know that there’s more to this story. The high level of engagement is still present, and it’s only a matter of time before it returns to form.
Blade Runner 2029 #8 is out now from Titan Comics.