“Man is the cruellest animal.” I never thought I would be quoting Friedrich Nietzsche to describe the concluding chapter of Blade Runner 2029! But it’s a quote inhabiting all the different emotions that reside within the dark and cruel corners of the human psyche.
To clarify, by no means am I suggesting that issue #12 of Titan’s brilliant comic book series fell below standards. Far from it. But the tragedy laced within Mike Johnson’s conclusion somehow finds an empathetic bridge for something so identifiably human – a statement reserved for Yotun.
This is not about having sympathy for the devil – Yotun passed the point of redemption. But for all the terrorist atrocities, violence, and the devastating body count encountered in this explosive storyline, what’s placed in perspective is the cost and consequences of Yotun’s endeavour. This vampiric, murderous, and militant cult leader who tried to re-shape the world in a God-like image of his own has left him with few options. His replicant army has perished. His so-called ‘miracles’ have worn off. There are no allies to help, and he’s betting all his cards on a miracle cure as his salvation. And the desperation for that truth leaves him empty-handed, with Eldon Tyrell having the last laugh.
It’s a vicious comeuppance for the soul – outwitted, outmanoeuvred, and outgunned by a ghost of the past. The nuance layers within Johnson’s writing always laid the inevitable groundwork for Yotun’s end, on course to face an emotional reckoning for his actions. The fact he’s seen ‘digging his own grave’ keeps the poetry within focus. But it’s also a chapter that weighs up the measurement of legacy.
The man, the myth and enigma known as Eldon Tyrell, took his secrets to the grave. Blade Runner hasn’t shied away from Yotun’s deep-rooted beliefs, believing he was the second-coming, the natural successor to Tyrell’s work. Even Kalia, in her dying words, proclaims him to be Tyrell. But as far as Johnson’s writing is concerned, it’s another illustration of how legends are mythologised – history written by the victors and told to school kids, where out of the wilderness came the anointed one and his greatness placed on a pedestal where others cannot follow. And like a ‘God’ as Tyrell is seen, he can create, but he can also destroy (e.g., the Night Owl virus from Blade Runner: Revelations).
The chapter’s low-key conclusion comes with the realisation of how short this entry is. Characters meet their fate like a failsafe ignition for the cleanest possible ending. Returning faces make the briefest of cameos, and the action is kept to a minimum, opting for a more personable end to its journey. There’s a slight air of dissatisfaction where it could have pushed a bit more from its ambitious scope and the potential avenues to explore. But upon reflection, Blade Runner’s latest 4-part chapter is a reconciliation with mortality. No one is immune – not even Ash, as her “gift” rapidly disintegrates. These were characters living on borrowed time. For Tyrell, the essence of living forever was a question of life’s greatest mysteries using the Nexus models as the next stage of evolution. We can journey on epic quests, find scientific elixirs, and play God in the process of immunity. But in the end, time and death eventually catch up with us all (hence, the cruel joke). And Yotun’s demise came down to a punishable human frailty.
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But what the issue does successfully is the continued upward development between Ash and Freysa. We see them working together, a nice change from the separate yet parallel adventures they’ve embarked on. If anything, the series has only amplified their loyalty, love and devotion. However, this time around, Ash doesn’t get to be the hero. Freysa does.
The agency within Freysa’s character takes centre stage, building momentum from her encounter with Marlowe to rescuing Ash from Police detention (with a little help from an old friend). Here, she’s much more proactive. In one brilliant panel (drawn brilliantly by Andres Guinaldo), she disables the transponder in the spinner before Ash has a chance to weigh in on the direction. And pleasing to see, we’re starting to see that gradual shift towards her appearance in Blade Runner 2049.
That has been the rewarding aspect of the comics. Johnson and co. continue to explore new depths of the mythology while retaining the passion, engagement, and spirit for why we fell in love with the franchise. The intrigue has always remained consistent, which is why its proposed next chapter – Blade Runner 2039 – is filled with notable excitement.
Because as one chapter ends, a miracle awaits. What does that future hold for Ash, knowing her secret double life has been exposed and her Blade Running days are over? It will be another re-invention, but it’s a path we all agree we’re looking forward to.
Blade Runner 2029 #12 is out now from Titan Comics.