Blade Runner 2019 #5 goes in a new direction complete with a change in setting and timeframe. The change of setting is fascinating as any place other than earth hasn’t been seen in the franchise yet. The time jump, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. Leaving this issue in a tricky situation for me.
Seeing another setting other than earth in Blade Runner 2019 #5 is great. While we don’t get much the first few pages are used to show the hardship of an off-world mining settlement. Earth may be a cesspit but it’s the very model of order compared to this mess. It’s hell to live like this and the massive panels and at times full splash pages by Andres Guinaldo sell this well. When we finally get to Cleo and learn what has happened, we see the underbelly of what was promised.
In order to support the good life of the wealthy, the backs of the underprivileged must be broken. The replicants serve this function well and it is depressing to see this. It is the very thing the replicants are fighting against in the first film. Slavery is what it is. You can call it whatever you like but at the end of the day, it is slavery. People live in fear in order to provide for those that are not themselves.
In the franchise, we are told about the off-world being a better brighter future. It probably is if you have the means. Otherwise, it’s business as usual in a harsher environment. Not just the people want to kill you now, it’s the planets themselves that will get you. All for what purpose? That is cyberpunk. High tech low life.
The Time Jump Problem
Michael Green and Mike Johnson made an interesting choice with Blade Runner 2019 #5 in that it is not a direct follow up from the previous arc. Instead, it skips ahead in time to 2026. Ash is still the focus and she still has Cleo, but that is the problem. They are supposed to be like mother and daughter now. That was the symbolism of the last arc and it was beautifully done, but it is lessened by the time jump as a result. Cleo is now rebelling against Ash’s plan to keep them safe the way someone her age would. But the distance that is growing between them doesn’t feel earned.
They only came together in the last issue and now they are having a wedge driven between them. Instead, I would rather see this happen organically over time rather than right away. I understand wanting to age Cleo up and have Ash parallel her mom, but this results in so much missed opportunities. It must be said that the character work in Blade Runner 2019 #5 is solid and Cleo being older can make the drama more intense and interesting. I like where the arc is going just not how we got here I suppose.
Cleo being older and being too old to trick but being too young to survive is a good choice though. While I like the grizzled protagonist and the younger child trope, having Cleo being so young was a handicap to their storytelling. So, it’s a hard situation to be in, either you do it this way or you organically do it, but it is more difficult and potentially less interesting.
Blade Runner 2019 #5 Has Problems But Is Solid
Blade Runner 2019 #5 is a mixed bag. It’s a good story that takes risks with its setting and characters. Not all those risks work entirely but perhaps they executed well enough to still be enjoyable. I continue to see how the story of Cleo and Ash will play out now much more differently than I expected.