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BLADE RUNNER 2039 #1 [Preview/Review]

BLADE RUNNER 2039 #1/ Script by MIKE JOHNSON & MELLOW BROWN/ Art by ANDRES GUINALDO/ Colors by MARCO LESKO/ Letters by JIM CAMPBELL/ Creative Consultation by MICHAEL GREEN/ Published by TITAN COMICS

20 years ago, Aahna “Ash” Ashina was the first woman to become a Blade Runner and was widely considered to be the best in the business. That changed after she was briefly reassigned from Rep Detect to investigate the disappearance of Isobel and Cleo Selwyn, the wife and daughter of billionaire Alexander Selwyn. This case pushed Ash to start asking questions a good Blade Runner shouldn’t ask and eventually led to her signing on with the Replicant Underground.

Now, the first Nexus 9 Replicant Blade Runner, Luv, is starting to out-perform the human Blade Runners, who are less than thrilled about being replaced with a “skin-job.” And Cleo Selwyn is trying to find the foster mother who saved her life so many years ago, as a new hunt begins for the Replicant who replaced Isobel Selwyn…

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The only flaw to Blade Runner 2039 is its inability to stand alone as a story. This is a peril writers must overcome when writing fiction within a shared setting, even when one of those writers, Mike Johnson, is largely responsible for expanding that setting in the first place. While Blade Runner 2029 was able to stand on its own, despite being a sequel, this book does require some base familiarity with Ash’s story to date.

Thankfully, most of this first issue is devoted to Luv, a character from the Blade Runner 2049 film, and her story is completely accessible to any newcomers who might happen to pick this book up at random. This is a minor concern, given most readers picking this book up are probably familiar with the Blade Runner universe and have already read Blade Runner 2019 and Blade Runner 2029. What’s truly strange is that the summary of the story so far at the start of the issue doesn’t mention Cleo Selwyn and I wouldn’t have known that the woman looking for Ash was her if it hasn’t been for the issue summary provided by Titan Comics!

While the story may be a bit hard to get into, the artwork remains amazing. Andres Guinaldo continues to capture the essence of the future Los Angeles, in all its contradictory aesthetics, from the grimy undertown to the neon-trimmed towers of the elite. The colors of Martin Lesko paint a grim grey film over most of the world, with flashes of color serving to punctuate Guinaldo’s fantastic action sequences.

Fans of Titan Comics’ earlier Blade Runner titles will find this to be an excellent capstone on Ash’s story. Newcomers would do well to seek out Blade Runner 2019 first and start the story at the beginning. In either case, this is a fitting and thrilling continuation of the movies.

Blade Runner 2039 #1 releases on December 7, 2022.

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