Review: BLADE RUNNER 2019: OFF-WORLD

Tie-in comics are a mixed bag, so I was skeptical when I heard about Blade Runner 2019, a Titan Comics series meant to flesh out the Blade Runner universe by exploring the period between the franchise’s two films.

The first volume of the series, Los Angeles, exceeded my every expectation and made it clear that Michael Green (who worked on Blade Runner 2049) and Mike Johnson had a story to tell that would be on par with other Blade Runner media. Because of that volume’s success, I was thrilled to pick up their next installment in the series: Off-World.

The Story So Far

Los Angeles introduced Ash, a paraplegic Blade Runner using bio-tech to walk, and followed her on a case that ended with her rescuing Cleo Selwyn, the daughter of a wealthy tycoon, who was being delivered to the Tyrell Corporation for genetic experimentation.

Space Chase

The Blade Runner series understands that trench coats rule.

Off-World picks up seven years later in 2026 with Ash and Cleo living in hiding on an off-world mining colony. Cleo is passing as a young boy named Rabbit and trades in contraband with the miners.

When the colony’s replicants rebel and abscond with Cleo, Ash has to work with a new Blade Runner named Hythe to track down her lost charge.

While it doesn’t hold together quite as well as Los Angeles, Off-World still delivers all the retro-cyberpunk goodness fans have come to expect from the Blade Runner universe. There’s plenty of action amongst the stars as Ash and Hythe follow the escaped replicants’ trail during their search for Cleo, culminating in a satisfying spaceport showdown that sets the stage for Book 3: Home Again, Home Again.

Clean, Cool Artwork

How To Spot an Android: Step 1: Check for a serial number etched, upsettingly enough, on their eyeball.

Andres Guinaldo’s art remains a standout for the series, capturing the aesthetic of the films and building on it to expand the Blade Runner universe alongside Green and Johnson’s story.

Guinaldo has a clean style that makes it easy to keep track of what’s happening in the panel and lose yourself in the rhythm of the dialogue and the mood evoked by the aquamarines and oranges of the volume’s color palette.

Cyberpunk/Noir Poetry

Speaking of the dialogue, it acts as a serious high point for this volume, stripped down from actual human speech but infused with the off-kilter poetry of a Blade Runner property.

Ash’s narration provides the noir atmosphere you expect from Blade Runner, but even the other characters regularly speak in clipped sentences that gives the entire affair an almost Mad Max: Fury Road vibe—this is not how we talk to one another in our daily lives, but it’s the language these people grew into in a harsher time and place, heightened and enthralling.

Final Verdict

Blade Runner 2019 continues to dazzle with both its storytelling and visualization, proving beyond all doubt that the creative team has a firm grasp on what makes this franchise work. If you’re craving more neo-noir, retro-cyberpunk action, Off-World will satisfy that craving and then some.

This is Must-Read science-fiction.

Blade Runner 2019: Off-World is available for purchase here.

If you’re interested in the other books we’re geeking out over, check out Geek Guy Buys: Read!