Welcome to We Want Comics, a new column exploring intellectual properties, whether they’re movies, TV shows, novels or video games, that we want adapted into comic books. This month we consider comic books based on Blade Runner 2049. Before we continue, a strong warning that there will be spoilers after the jump.
Blade Runner 2049 has come and gone: like the original, it was a box office disappointment, with estimates calculating that it made the producers a loss of $80 million. It seems once more that the story of Rick Deckard has come to an end, but that was only ever the case on film. Novels and games continued to explore Ridley Scott’s nightmarish vision of the future, and between 2009 and 2011, BOOM! Studios put out two comic book series based on Philip K. Dick’s original novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The film provides 30 years worth of new stories and ideas for writers and artists to explore. Already before its release, director Denis Villeneuve oversaw three prequel short films, which have been arranged chronologically for your viewing pleasure. First up, Blade Runner Black Out 2022, an anime from Cowboy Bebop director Shinichirō Watanabe, shows how the blackout that destroyed data records that year transpired. It’s a catastrophe that could always be explored from another perspective.
Next, 2036: Nexus Dawn reveals how Jared Leto’s antagonist Niander Wallace ascended to power, with the creation of seemingly docile replicants. Wallace’s back-story, and his motivations, remain murky in the film, being largely irrelevant to the story of Ryan Gosling’s Blade Runner K, leaving the door open for it to being explored in future.
Finally, there’s 2048: Nowhere to Run, which showcases Dave Bautista’s replicant Sapper Morton.
Morton would be a vital character in any comic set between Blade Runner 2049 and the original. The sequel reveals that after Deckard and Rachael fled Los Angeles in 2019, she became pregnant, and that Morton was involved in the delivery of the child. Deckard and Rachael’s daughter became Ana Stelline, the talented creator of the implanted memories for replicants.
Blade Runner 2049 revolves around the repercussions of the existence of a replicant child, but Ana is not the protagonist of her own story. That could be rectified with the right creative team, similar to the Aliens retelling “Newt’s Tale.” How did Ana cope at the orphanage? Was she telling the truth about her medical condition? And who gave her the carving of a horse?
Similarly, her father’s hiding in the devastated landscape of Las Vegas could provide much fodder for stories, similar to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s exile on Tatooine in Star Wars media. The coloring for the ravaged and irradiated city could be as sumptuous as the film’s cinematography.
It’s important with the film series going nowhere to consider sequel comics too. The replicant resistance was a piece of worldbuilding that would’ve have paid off in another film. They and the Wallace Corporation seemingly want the same thing, so they may ally together. And if so, are Deckard and Stelline truly safe?
A “Blade Runner 2049” comic ought to have co-writer Hampton Fancher as a story consultant. He is a steady hand, one not prone to wacky notions like Ridley Scott, whose obsessions marred the Alien prequels. Intellectual comic book heavyweight writers like Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison or Peter Milligan would make ideal collaborators: particularly, Ellis’s “James Bond” series showed he could script a “Blade Runner” comic that emulated the wordless pacing and storytelling of 2049 or The Final Cut.
A gifted artist who can convey much with so little would be required, and also one who recognizes the texture of Blade Runner‘s rainswept world is clammy and grotty, but not necessarily gritty. It’s a beautiful world in spite of how tainted and polluted it is. Somewhat glamorous artists like Phil Noto, Kenneth Rocafort, Brian Stelfreeze or Marco Checchetto, would be the best fit for this assignment. Checchetto and colorist Andres Mossa, for example, have shown time and again with their work for Marvel a strong understanding of darkness and light, and how to make grimey, sweaty characters more than a collection of scratchy pencils.Continued below
Presumably due to their shared ownership with Warner Bros., DC Comics would have first right of refusal on a “Blade Runner” book. We asked BOOM! about the rights, and whether they were interested in adapting Blade Runner 2049. They simply replied:
Thanks for reaching out! As cool as “Blade Runner 2049” is, we don’t have any plans to create comics based on the property.
To date, the only comic based directly on Blade Runner was Marvel’s adaptation from 1982, written by Archie Goodwin with art by Al Williamson & Ralph Reese among others. Roy Batty, Pris, Luv and Mariette, are just some of the unforgettable characters we’ve seen in these movies, and we should be clamoring for more of them. Consider for a moment if there another K, with his own Joi, elsewhere in the world?
It’s not time for Blade Runner to die yet. In the meantime, what licensed comics would you like to see? Maybe you feel it’s time for Dark Horse to finally do “Alien vs. Blade Runner”? Don’t let your thoughts become lost in the midsts of time, like, well, you know.