I was a big fan of Blade Runner ‘Black Lotus’ when it appeared on the Cartoon Network. As a massive fan of Jessica Henwick and Blade Runner 2049, I was able to overlook the anime’s somewhat spotty animation and issues storytelling wise to appreciate it as an action-heavy intequal between the movies. Unfortunately, I felt the ending was somewhat too ambiguous with a lot of unresolved plot threads that needed to be followed up on.
So I was very excited about the prospect of a sequel comic that would follow up on the plot of Elle as well as perhaps answer some of those lingering questions. Given how much I enjoyed the other Blade Runner comics, I was also certain they could capture the full enjoyment factor from the cartoon and possibly improve on it.
Did it succeed?
Yes and no.
Blade Runner: Black Lotus #1 starts with seeming confirmation that Joseph from the anime did, in fact, die rather than survive to rejoin Elle in the desert like many of speculated. I feel this is something that hangs over the story since Joseph was one of the most interesting characters in the series and his developing relationship with Elle was something we all wished to see continued.
The rest of the comic also takes a sharp dive from typical Blade Runner aethstetics and even cyberpunk. Elle takes refuge in the desert and ends up in “Fracktown”, which seems more like something from Mad Max or Fallout rather than the rain soaked high tech world of Los Angeles in either movie. Indeed, it only takes a little while to realize that this is going to be a cyberpunk Western with the conflict being between the salt-of-the-Earth settlers and the man running a fracking operation.
I’m not sure what to make of a Western cyberpunk story as while I’ve enjoyed a few in the past like Sean Connery’s Outland, it is definitely something unexpected in a Blade Runner story. Niander Wallace still seems like he’s interested in Elle and asserts his influence over the local boss by insisting on his property (Replicant pleasure models) being better treated but if there’s a larger goal from the man, it is kept a secret.
The art is acceptable but is hard not to compare with the other Blade Runner comic art and comes up a bit short. It has an anime-esque style that reminded me most of the Avatar: The Air Bender comics, though a bit blockier. Overall, I’m going to say that I’m intrigued and interested in reading the rest of the series but wish they’d stuck to a bit more cyberpunk style and certainly kept Joseph alive.