Blade Runner 2019 #2: Sci-Fi Noir Storytelling Overcomes Lagging Artwork

by Richard Bruton

After reading the first issue of this prequel to the Blade Runner story, set in 2019, with the early Blade Runners retired those early Replicants, I was ready to give up on it, citing the lack of visual spectacle as the reason.

Here with issue 2 of Blade Runner 2019, I’m rather glad to have stayed the course, as the pulpish nature of the tale is keeping my interest. It’s not the film, nowhere near, but it’s a damn good noir sci-fi adventure that does a decent job.

(Cover by Christian Ward)

Let’s just say I didn’t agree with that overly-glowing bit of Bleeding Cool praise on the cover – you can read my review of the first issue of Blade Runner 2019 here at Comicon, but basically it left me conflicted – writing and story good, art just not good enough to live up to the existing visual spectacular of the film.

And it’s still the same feel with issue 2, but here I’m perhaps that little bit more forgiving of the art, merely because I’m getting more and more involved with the storyline, which is definitely ticking all the right boxes, that whole Chandler/Hammett dialogue thing going on, all with a pleasurable sci-fi twist.

So, here in Blade Runner 2019, we’re in the very earliest days of the Blade Runners, those special police operatives with orders to retire any of the artificial Replicants that make it to Earth. Detective Aahna ‘Ash’ Ashina is one of those very first Blade Runners and she’s been called in to investigate the disappearance and possible kidnap of Isobel and Cleo Selwyn, wife and daughter of business tycoon, Alexander Selwyn.

In issue one, Ash found the Selwyn’s spinner in a downtown slum just before her cybernetic backbrace malfunctioned and she collapsed. And then it switched to a very obviously alive and not kidnapped Isobel and Cleo, looking for a man they know as Malek.

Now, in issue 2, things hot up as the pulp noir element of Blade Runner 2019 that I did enjoy really cranks up, with Ash doing the cool gumshoe voiceover, tracking down leads, discovering, to no-one’s surprise, that Selwyn is most likely dirty, and tracking down an interesting twist in replicants in disguise in the process.

Yes, as I say, it’s still not the wonderful experience I wanted, it’s not got that visual wow factor the movie had. It’s ‘just’ another well-done Euro-style sci-fi comic, and I’ve seen plenty of Euro albums over the last 20 years that blow this artwork out the water. But it is what it is and what it is is art to service what’s becoming an increasingly involving storyline that plays hard on the old pulp noir detective idea and mixes in a good dash of sci-fi to great effect.

So yes, I’ll stick with this Blade Runner prequel.

Blade Runner 2019 issue #2 – written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson, art by Andres Guinaldo, colors by Marco Lesko, letters by Jim Campbell.

Those variant covers…

(Cover by Syd Mead)

(Cover by Andres Guinaldo)

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