Blade Runner 2039 #3 – Comic Review

Writer Mike Johnson (sans co-writer Mellow Brown) brings an air of familiarity to Blade Runner’s latest chapter. The story returns to the city, a comforting visual stomping ground which, thanks to the artistry of Andres Guinaldo, manages to amplify any storyline within its well-versed arsenal.

The characters of Ash, Cleo Selwyn and Hythe return to the mix as new threats harm their existence. And like any good storytelling prose, with the amount of spinning plates teased and dangled towards its readers, it will find a way to converge and erupt in the most satisfying ways. But at this point in the story, issue #3 feels more like Pandora’s Box than anything revelatory. Its characters, who have embodied this epic story, fight with a determination to keep its secrets closed and hidden from the rest of the world. While this chapter remains tactfully straightforward, it’s the acknowledgement these characters are fighting for something that’s gradually eroding.

READ MORE: Attachment – Film Review

What Johnson engagingly crafts is a warring balance between two ideologies – one world where old characters navigate the city in ‘survival mode’, unlocked and ready for their purpose. The other – is a new age of technology where the game is far from a level playing field thanks to the introduction of Luv and Niander Wallace. These are chess-piece manoeuvres that Johnson plays with, a mechanism he’s relied on throughout shaping Blade Runner’s comic book mythos. And it’s put into a larger perspective when we see Ash reunite with her former boss Wojciech.

Wojciech (now residing in a retirement home living on her “fat police pension”) returns to a role we have always seen her in. The story has never placed itself in a position where her story is explored in greater depth beyond the friend/in-the-know advisor to Ash’s single-minded pursuit. Yet when she talks about “prophets” being the bigger threat than a Nexus-9 Replicant, it speaks volumes of our modern society.

READ MORE: Nolly – TV Review

For such a female-centric story, it’s the power that Niander Wallace quietly exercises which envelops Blade Runner. This is not the Yotun level of saviours, where Replicant utopia came through terrorist acts (which Los Angeles still reels from). When Hythe’s butler can call the police to pick up Luv, and Wallace’s men show up instead, it tells you everything you need to know about who has more influence!

Niander Wallace rides the wave of capitalism where the world owes him the favour for saving humanity. In return, he installs himself (and his company) in a higher authority than most systemic institutions. As our world continues to shift, Wallace feels more like a comic book extension of the super-rich billionaires such as Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos. For better or for worse (as illustrated by Musk’s handling of Twitter, for example), they’ve become more popular than most politicians, reshaping the cultural landscape to their desires. Wallace – with his God-like belief and relentless agenda to evolve mankind – is enough of a concern for Wojciech to warn Ash about – and to leave the case alone.

READ MORE: Pathfinders In Space Trilogy – DVD Review

However, Johnson doesn’t dwell on this moment for too long. Conversations are cut short before moving quickly through the motions as we get one reunion after another. It showcases the limitations when there’s an abundance of characters to get through in such a limited space of time. But it does emphasise the vulnerability of it all, particularly for Ash, who thinks old tricks will solve this new crisis. Wallace and co. are already ahead in this game, which for Ash proves to be a costly mistake in the issue’s conclusion.

It paints a bleak picture for the future of its characters and the remaining chapters of this story. One can only speculate on what happens next when the issue is a ticking time bomb. But it wouldn’t surprise me at this point if sacrifices were made – and that will hit hard.

READ MORE: Bros – Blu-ray Review

But for any shortcomings the issue may possess, it makes up for in its emotional return between Ash and Cleo. It’s a welcoming change of pace, a brief glimpse of her life since we saw her last, growing up off-world to live a life of privilege. Ash is the polar opposite, having to come to society’s aid once again to stem the new threat it poses. They both have lived in the shadows but to contrasting fortunes. You just wish it spent more time in this space without it feeling like a brief interlude.

However, where it counts, Blade Runner 2039 continues to delight and fascinate. The series builds on its impressive foundations with increased emotional stakes for its new adventure. The hope is that its payoff has a satisfying reward, knowing how many loose ends await their closure. But at this stage, the confidence it emits ensures that it’s on the right path of delivering.

Blade Runner 2039 #3 is out now from Titan Comics.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: