The first Blade Runner comic series – Blade Runner 2019 – ended late last year after 12 issues. As a follow-up we get two series. Blade Runner 2029 is a direct sequel and still feature Detective Ash. It just saw its third issue released. But there is also an entirely new series – Blade Runner Origins – created as a prequel. Set in an alternative 2009 this series follows Detective Cal Moreaux as he becomes the first Blade Runner. While I enjoy origin stories, I am somewhat skeptical if there is a point in exploring the history of human greed. The Alien movie can be frustrating to watch as despite victories over the deadly alien it keeps coming back in part because of human greed and lack of accountability. I fear Blade Runner Origins will a victim of Dystopia fatigue. But let’s see what the authors have created.
Blade Runner Origins #1 – the story
In the prologue we see Cal involved in a shootout in space. His partner is wounded and they are about to be swamped. A box, supposedly from Tyrell Corporations looks to be their last chance to turn the tables. But they do not know what is inside. Unfortunately, Cal is overpowered by his adversaries. The story then moves to 2009. Detective Cal is ordered by his boss to investigate a suicide at Tyrell. Unofficially the case needs to disappear as the city needs the money from Tyrell. Once there Cal discovers that dr. Lydia Kine is still very much suspended form the neck in her office. The secretive nature of the Tyrell Corporation quickly becomes apparent when Cal is chaperoned through the facility. Their representative Ilora Stahl makes thinly veiled threats as to what Cal can expect.
Despite doubts there does not appear much to indicate Dr. Kine’s death was anything other than suicide. This issue then focuses more on the personality of Cal Moreaux. In a bar Cal talks with a burlesque dancer, a homage to the original movie, about the case. While Cal thing it may end his career, the dancer is intrigues and chides him for not taking more of an interest as Tyrell is involved. The dancer may well be Cal’s sister and she knows more than she is letting on. Back at his home he is confronted by Dr. Kine’s brother Marcus. He is adamant her death was not suicide; he also fears he is being watched. This is proven true when they are ambushed. A co-worker of Dr Kine, Effie, calls him and warns the prototype of the Nexus 5 escaped the night of her death.
The good and the bad of Blade Runner Origins
While I enjoyed this first issue of Blade Runner Origins, I am worried about some of the implications. Supposedly the upcoming Nexus 5 series of Replicant are the first that require Blade Runners for hunting them down. Yet, that seems to undermine the story of the Blade runner movie and the novel Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep it is based on. Those give the impression that hunting Replicants has been a thing for decades. The ever more human looking Replicants then provoke moral arguments as to whether it is right to hunt them down. After all, what is the point when you cannot tell the difference between human and Replicant. Yet, the writer’s Mellow Brown, Mike Johnson and K. Perkins imply a much shorter period of time. From Nexus 5 to Nexus 6 with Roy Batty and the like to finally Nexus 8s such as Deckard and Rachael.
Such a compressed timeline feels as an attempt at a deliberate retcon to simplify the narrative. I could be wrong; I understand some choices have to be made. But I always enjoyed the progression from robotics to ‘more human than human’ that the original movie is famous for. Yet I do not want to be too negative. We are only one issue into this series and I am already enjoying the wonderful artwork from Fernando Dagnino. That combined with the wonderful coloring from Marco Lesko make this noteworthy to read. Plenty of panels evoke memories from Alien and the first Blade Runner movie. For now, I will put Blade Runner Origins near the top of my ‘to read’ list. We won’t have to wait long for issue #2. The release date is set for March 24th. It can be pre-ordered for $4.49 on Comixology.