Review by C.J. Bunce
Last year Netflix delivered what Blade Runner creator Philip K. Dick would have flipped over–the futurism and dark beauty of Adult Swim and Crunchyroll’s Japanese and American half-hour anime series Blade Runner: Black Lotus. With a second season of the brilliant Blade Runner anime up in the air, Titan Comics is offering the next best thing. This week the TV series continues in the first issue of Blade Runner: Black Lotus–the monthly comic. This past May we previewed the comic here at borg.
Written by Nancy A. Collins (Swamp Thing) with artwork by Enid Balam and Marci Lesko, and covers by Dani Strips, Junggeun Yoon, Creees Li, and Mico Suayan, the story takes off after episode 13 of the anime show, with replicant Elle, known as Black Lotus, leaving Los Angeles and heading out to face the future in the desert on a spinner bike. The newly blinded Niander Wallace, Jr. is left scheming what to do with his company going forward. Elle makes it to Fracktown, a dreary Mad Max-styled village that is surprisingly welcoming to Elle.
The opening chapter feels like a mix of a Firefly episode, while digging into the politics of a corrupt corporation of the Aliens Weyland-Yutani variety. The cyborg storytelling takes on the kinds of issues we saw in the UK Humans series, beginning with “pleasure model” replicants. The challenge for the writing will be distancing Elle from what we saw in the similar set-up of Alita: Battle Angel. The worldbuilding in Blade Runner is far superior, so it doesn’t look like it will be a problem.
Directed by Shinji Aramaki and Kenji Kamayama and created by Shinichirō Watanabe, the anime TV series (reviewed last year here at borg) was as good (and sometimes better) than its movie counterparts, blending components of Sleeping Beauty, Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game, the original Total Recall, and Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle. It’s a well-paced journey that surpasses the tech noir and cyberpunk of Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 and James Cameron’s similarly plotted Alita: Battle Angel.
In the TV series we met Elle, a CGI motion capture creation with the look of Lost Girl’s Anna Silk and voiced by Iron Fist’s Jessica Henwick and Arisa Shida. Elle is a badass heroine with amped up defense skills, matched only by the cool, Misty Knight quality of a detective named Alani Davis (Samira Wiley and Takako Honda), pursuing Elle for the murder of a senator in this version of 2030 Los Angeles. The TV series fully captured the essence of Syd Mead’s vision for the original Blade Runner, exploring a character similar to the star of Titan Comics’ Blade Runner tie-in series. Other sci-fi tropes sneak in that were themselves inspired by Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, like Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall, The Matrix and Cowboy Bebop. So far, the comic seems to be on the right track with its first issue.
We previewed the first issue of the comic earlier this summer, but here it is in case you missed it, along with a trailer for the comic:
And here’s one of the covers for Issue #2:
And the trailer:
A great way to get your fix while we wait for a TV series return, add Blade Runner: Black Lotus to your comic shop pull list at Elite Comics or your local shop now.