Blade Runner 2019: Off World is this week’s second chapter in Titan Comics take on the epic franchise. Michael Green, Mike Johnson, Andres Guinaldo, Marco Lesko, and Jim Campbell dedicate this series to the late Syd Mead, who contributed the original movie’s designs. All through a story about how memory gives something to strive for.
In the first trade, Los Angeles, Blade Runner Aahna ‘Ash’ Ashina rescues the daughter of a ruthless agribusiness tycoon because a father willing to sell off his daughter to central antagonist Tyrell Corporation is anything but nurturing.
Blade Runner 2019: Off World Plot
Blade Runner 2019: Off World follows Ash and her ward Cleo Selwyn on the run from Cleo’s father and Earth authorities. Going undercover is taking its toll on Cleo; she can’t use her real name or gender. In this bleak and empty space where replicant (bioengineered beings people mistake for cyborgs) and human relationships are at their most cutthroat, there’s a need for meaning. Blade Runner 2049 writer Michael Green and Star Trek‘s Mike Johnson present this search for meaning through Cleo and the replicant Padraic. Unlike so many of the more militant replicants desperate for their freedom to the point of murder, Padraic is a poet who shows kindness to Cleo for no reward. With the real world becoming so bleak, it evokes a universal need for kindness and compassion. Something that drives Cleo to find a place that gave her hope with the name of Arcadia.
Unlike say, the new Blade Runner Hythe who is as cold and ruthless following a Replicant uprising. The way she presents herself and acts displays Hythe as both hateful and somewhat sympathetic. She’s driven by an event that was good for replicants but traumatizing for people. One that Hythe believes she needs to be even more ruthless than militant replicants. It’s a rather sad way to look at life where only the bad things in life drive a person. Because who can really find meaning in something so hateful?
Andres Guinaldo provides designs worthy of Mead throughout Blade Runner 2019: Off World. The machines like Ash’s augmentations that allow her to walk are a synthesis of highly advanced technology and humanity. It makes her more similar to the replicants she used to hunt, even if it’s surface level, which is evident with the return of the device for the Voight-Kampf replicant detection test. With how cold many people look and feel where humans and replicants can’t be told apart, it feels necessary. Because as it turns out, these differences between people like compassion and lack of it are artificial.
Marco Lesko provides muted colors to reflect the Neo-Noir atmosphere that is ever-present. Every place feels without a soul or meaning through this. Even in times of emergency, reds blend into one another, giving an almost nihilistic conflict throughout Blade Runner 2019: Off World. It’s only when lights are showing that anything meaningful happens, like when Padraic gives Cleo a precious mineral for her plans to live free out of kindness.
The lettering by Jim Campbell is extremely professional and ordinary. The simple use of spacing with the word balloons provide efficient use of dialogue to get the point across. Most of the time, the wordmarks and word balloons don’t come close unless it’s meant to show a sharp change in the atmosphere. Like when someone is speaking only to get shot. Yet it’s the captions that feature different fonts that allow characters to speak their minds that feel the most authentic. Padraic’s written italicized font looks poetic and delicate to show his kind nature. In contrast, Ash’s captions with italicized font look like it was written in a log for her serious nature. A caption that changes color from blue to yellow as she gets serious.
The Spirit In Blade Runner 2019: Off World
Blade Runner 2019: Off World features the melancholic if hopeful essence that makes Blade Runner famous. When things start to look bleak as time marches on with people at each other’s throats, hope can be found in unusual but small places because it’s those small moments that drive people forward. Hence why the legacy of Syd Mead lives on in those he inspires.