Blade Runner ‘Black Lotus’ #4 is the fourth and final installment of the mini-series that is a sequel to the successful Cartoon Network Blade Runner ‘Black Lotus’ anime. It is an intequal set between the two Blade Runner movies and about a young Replicant girl named Elle who narrowly survives a bunch of Replicant-hating bigots. Picking up immediately afterward, she finds herself wandering into a wasteland town built around fracking and the conflict emerging between the settlers with the owners of the fracking plant.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the first issue, offput by the lack of Joseph from the anime as well as the shift from cyberpunk Los Angeles to the more Mad Max-esque California desert. However, the next two issues were action packed and at least entertaining from beginning to end. They may not have been particularly deep stories but the art was kinetic and I enjoyed seeing Elle kick as much ass as she did in the anime.
The final issue of the series surprised me by returning to characterization as its primary motivation. There’s very little action as, instead, Elle meditates on the nature of sacrifice and how her friend Joseph got himself killed trying to redeem himself. Sadly, this confirms what the series was already hinting at when the anime left it open-ended over whether Joseph survived his attempted sacrifice or not.
Here, Elle successfully confronts the remaining fracking boss and forces a confession out of him that he attempted to kidnap a bunch of women from the settlers in order to force them into prostitution. Also, that he was the man responsible for torturing and mutilating all of the pleasure model Replicants that resulted in Niander Wallace cancelling his contract. It’s a cathartic moment and well done for showing a certain level of justice can exist in the Blade Runner world.
There’s also an interesting scene at the start of the comic where one of the settlers reveals he was in on the kidnapping plot in hopes of acquiring the village doctor for himself. If the comic had an additional two issues to pace itself (raising it to six), I suspect Nancy Collins would have had more room to get into reasons why we should care about these characters.
Overall, I enjoyed the Black Lotus mini-series even if I was disappointed in places like with the lack of Joseph and lack of character development. The Wild West/Mad Max-esque setting was something that took a little while to get used to but I ultimately think it was an okay shift from Los Angeles. There’s a lot to enjoy here but most of the book is action and feels more like an episode or two of the series rather an entire season.