20th Dec2019

‘Blade Runner 2019 #5′ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Michael Green, Mike Johnson | Art by Andres Guinaldo | Published by Titan Comics

blade-runner-2019-5-cover

Well this is a refreshingly quick return to everybody’s favourite dystopian near future. When the first arc ended a couple of months ago I figured it would be a while before we got to see Aahna Ashina, our second favourite Blade Runner, again. Yet here we are, and I love the fact that both the original creative team is fully intact and that is an issue 5, not a new first issue. This book is good enough not to need any sales gimmicks, and the continuity of story should be the most important consideration. So well done Titan.

For those coming in late, and who missed the very good first story arc of this book, we met cynical Blade Runner Ash running around in 2019 Los Angeles doing her taking down replicants thing. She then got caught up in a whole thing with, who else, the Tyrell Corporation, who wanted to perform genetic experimentation on Cleo Selwyn, daughter of Alexander Selwyn, a powerful corporate boss who had had a ‘new’ replicant wife given to him after his own died. Ash upset a lot of people along the way but ultimately saved Cleo and, for both their safety, decided to disappear. Which they did. It is now 2026, and I guess time to check in and see if life’s been kind.

We start off-world, on a dangerous planet being exploited for its resources. Replicants provide the workforce, allowed to remain alive if they live in service to their owners. Many don’t make it long, conditions are that bad. But hey, who cares about an expendable workforce? Capitalism’s wet dream. Time’s not been kind unfortunately. Ash is confined to her wheelchair, and Cleo is working the various colonies selling and trading black market goods. They are scraping by, keeping their heads down. Fake names, fake identities. Not ideal, but it’s keeping them safe, or at least so Ash thinks. Cleo is less sure, having heard whispers here and there. This life has hit Cleo hardest, now every bit as cynical as her adoptive Mum. Just a while longer promises Ash, then you can be free. She knew this time would come soon enough.

Cleo has sort of made friends with one of the replicants, Padraic. He seems different to the others, quieter, more introspective, capable of deeper thought than most. Cleo reveals her real name to him, kindred spirits who share in common that they are different. Nice little interlude. And, as you know in this world nice stuff doesn’t last long, we get a reminder that space ships also mean space piracy. Only this piracy seems to be in the form of liberation, the liberation of replicants. Cleo, known to everyone as Rabbit, gets caught up in it and is just about to become another of the humans executed when her ‘friend’, Padraic, saves her. The price? she has to leave with him, technically as his captive. I guess she is getting her wish at seeing more of the universe. Ash is helpless two times over. Obviously physically impaired by being confined to the wheelchair, she is also locked down in one of the rooms due to security measures. For the first time since the rescue seven years ago, Ash can’t protect Cleo.

I thought this a pretty brave first issue of the new arc. Everything we enjoyed about the first story, all the elements we liked, were thrown out the window. Different setting off world, different very downbeat tone, and two very damaged main characters, beaten down by the years since leaving LA. Superbly written though, a real air of danger and decay over everything, a real feeling of despair, of giving up hope. Ash is a shadow of herself, but perhaps she just needed that spark to find herself, and the loss of Cleo may be what she needs for a more personal revival. We’ll see. The art, by Andres Guinaldo, was also fantastic, really creating visually that decaying feel, the corruption in the air, the squalor these people have to live in.

A great issue that effectively sets a new starting point for our (near) futuristic Lone Wolf and Cub, a future ripe with possibilities for some, nothing but danger for others.

Just how we like it.

**** 4/5

Blade Runner 2019 #5 is out now from Titan Comics.

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