This is essentially a murder mystery that will serve as an origin for Blade Runners but unfortunately there are creative choices here that seem odd, and the cliffhanger serves us nothing we don’t already know.
This review of Blade Runner Origins #1 contains some minor spoilers.
Blade Runner Origins is a spin-off title from Titan Comics, who must be having some success with their Blade Runner license to green light this latest project.
We start with a font-savvy recap that explains that “early in the 21st century, the Tyrell Corporation advanced robot evolution into the Nexus phase”, but to be honest if you are reading this comic book, you probably already knew that. The end of the intro explains, “This is the story of the first Blade Runner”, as the title of the series might imply.
I know that the original Blade Runner movie had a similar scroll to get viewers up to speed with some of the ideas the movie presented, but it seems almost redundant here.
The scroll ends with “Los Angeles 2009” but on the right-hand page, the first thing we see is a heading that says 2007, which for some reason annoyed me.
Another thing that annoyed me, before I even started reading, was the credits page that informed me that Blade Runner Origins #1, with 22 pages, was written by three people: K. Perkins, Mellow Brown, and Mike Johnson. They all somehow contributed to the story within, along with creative consultant Michael Green. The logistics of that escape me.
Anyway, we start in 2007 at The Siege of Kalanthia in a shoot-out that’s there to set the scene and get us invested before jumping back to 2009, and a hospital scene with a coma patient, being looked in on by her brother and husband. A nice Blade Runner-esque 2-page spread allows Fernando Dagnino’s art to shine, his cityscapes far more impressive than his dialogue-heavy panels.
At the LAPD, Detective Moreaux is called in by his boss and sets the scene for us. An engineer at the Tyrell Corporation has killed herself and “they need a cleaner” to go into the super-secret building and get the low down on the situation.
The body has been discovered by Effie Koropey, the assistant of the deceased, but before he can investigate further, he is introduced to Ilora Stahl, sent by Tyrell himself to offer assistance to Moreaux, before Effie says too much.
We jump scene to a bar, where Moreaux is enjoying a whisky and taking advice from a friend working at this joint, who offers advice to him when he reveals that the Tyrell Corp want him “in their pocket”.
By the time our weary cop is back home, he is met by the deceased engineer’s brother who explains that his sister would never have killed herself and that he’s being watched and followed. From nowhere a flying Bladerunner car swoops down in a weird hit and run attempt and the two men get to the safety of Moreaux’s apartment. However, a voicemail from Effie at Tyrell’s reveals that something else happened on the night of her death, a Nexus 5 prototype replicant had escaped.
This first issue is of course set up for the series, and if you are going to do a story of this type, it’s important to ground it firmly in the world of the source material. This issue pretty much ticks all the boxes: Replicants, Tyrell, flying cars, and futuristic cities, so we know where we are, but it fails slightly to evoke the style of the first movie, which is a shame, as a comic has literally no budget constraints, yet this plays more like a TV pilot than an addition to the movie series.
The art is serviceable, but the muted palette of colors makes a lot of it look muddy, and when we do get a spread of the city, there was a chance to impress us with the neon lights and giant billboards of the films, but it misses the mark completely leading to just a generic future city with flying cars. The dialogue scenes are to be fair probably closer to the film’s tones, but the bar our protagonist finds himself in is sparse and devoid of life and energy and failing to capture the bizarreness of the film, and this annoys me as once again, budget here is not an issue, so why not go a little overboard and sell this world, instead of muting it and making it look like a cheap TV set populated by bored extras?
Story-wise, it hits the beats it has to, and I know that they may have been going for a slow burn here, but it’s just so slow. The attack on our hero and the brother is over in one page and creates no threat or stakes for our characters.
Perhaps there were problems with pacing here, and three writers all contributing might be the reason why.
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