Once on the run for the alleged kidnapping of a wealthy industrialist’s daughter, Aahna “Ash” Ashina has cleared her name and is again a detective and Blade Runner for the Los Angeles Police Department. While working a routine case she encounters the name of a synth that escaped twelve years earlier, but since Replicants were intentionally designed with a short lifespan that shouldn’t be possible. More concerning is that there are an increasing number of new “Skinjobs” in the city even though the manufacture of new replicant humans has long been outlawed.  As Ash pulls the thread a conspiracy threatening the city she has sworn to protect and the people she loves unfolds with sinister consequences. 

Blade Runner 2029 Vol 1: Reunion takes place three years after the events of the Blade Runner 2019 finale Home Again, Home Again. Mike Johnson takes up the writer’s pen again with a plot that moves along at a steady clip thanks to some foresight and world-building in earlier outings. Ash’s interesting and dangerous relationships, a puzzling mystery, and a convincing cult leader villain you can sympathise with, yet are still unnerved by adds new flavour.

As they did in Blade Runner 2019 Andres Guinaldo and colourist Marco Lesko ensure the illustration maintains its high standards. Guinaldo is brilliant at fostering a sense of atmosphere through his depictions of the hustle and bustle of people, whether in a busy police station garage or a packed illicit nightclub. The future is bright in this dystopian world but only for the privileged upper class, the less fortunate eking out a hardscrabble existence in the market stalls or the many construction sites across Los Angeles. A sea wall holding back rising water levels from an over-crowded city perpetuates a sense of danger, yet the twinkling lights of the high-rise apartments and market food stalls accentuate the strange and mesmerising beauty of a city at night.

What impresses most about Titan’s Blade Runner books is the high quality of creativity brought to them. Johnson keeps developing the culture and socio-political dynamics against a juicy thriller while Lesko and Guinaldo elevate the art with each new outing. A great cliff-hanger ending promises more suspense and intrigue for Blade Runner 2029 Vol. 2: Echoes.