The world of Blade Runner: 2049 is, in a word, bleak. Somewhere on the outermost edges of dystopia, the grim bordermarches of a not-too-distant future that straddles the razor’s edge of horrifying and mystifying.
Blade Runner: 2029 at its core is a war story, a story of revolution and truths and how the truths of different peoples—however people are defined—can create uproarious conflict and drag the lives of everyone around them into it, even an entire city. Set, as most the Blade Runner franchise is, in Los Angeles, we follow the titular Blade Runner, Ash, as they pursue a revolutionary replicant across the city after the replicants have been outlawed. It’s a chase that takes more twists and turns than an apoplectic rattlesnake, tearing across, above, and below the sprawling, decaying metropolis. As is so often the case in stories of this nature, Blade Runner: 2029 has no clearly defined good guys or bad guys. There is a protagonist, sure, but the morals of all the characters throughout are ambiguous at best and for the most part everyone isn’t so much self-serving as desperate to fulfill their overarching goals. It creates a kind of amorphous tension, a dynamic that makes it almost impossible to truly root for one side or the other. The character who is ostensibly the antagonist is immensely sympathetic, in no small part due to their palpable charisma—oftentimes eclipsing Ash, who acts as the axis around which the entire story turns.
Ultimately, Blade Runner: 2029 is an extremely enjoyable series that is as immersive and entertaining as the rest of the Blade Runner comics that Titan has been pumping out and I recommend it just as highly as the others. The writing team is the same as Blade Runner: Origins, so the dialogue is just as well-written and crisp, the drama just as well thought out, but this time around we see Andres Guinaldo undertaking the art duties and their work is refreshing and a joy to behold. There’s something of the old Metal Hurlant magazine in the linework and compositions, in the character’s expressions and the action itself. There’s definitely something of the European comic scene’s flair in the art, and to be quite frank it’s lovely and full of character. More than once (more, probably, than a dozen times) I caught myself just staring at a page or a tableau for a few minutes before even bothering to read anything because of how impressive the art on display was.
Blade Runner: 2029 is a breathtaking read and a thrill-a-minute series that fans of the original franchise, the other comics, and the sci-fi genre alike can jump in and enjoy, and to make matters all the better: it’s not the end. Ash’s story will continue, much sooner rather than later, in the upcoming Blade Runner: 2039 and I can’t wait.