Writer: Mike Johnson
Artist: Andres Guinaldo
Colorist: Marco Lesko
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Cover Artists: Lesley Li; Clark Blint; Syd Mead; Nahuel Grego
Publisher: Titan Comics
Release Date: July 19, 2023
Niander Wallace bought Tyrell Corp’s assets. His last three Replicant models have disappointed him. Then he learns that the wife and daughter of late Replicant researcher Alexander Selwyn have returned to Earth. What’s an ambitious and wealthy industrialist to do? Acquire Selwyn’s research into replicant physiology by any means necessary. Is this bad news for former Blade Runner Ash, who’s taken Selwyn’s daughter Cleo under her wing? Let’s fly into Blade Runner 2039 #5 and find out!
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Humans are imperfect, and replicants bear the defects of their creators. Thus, Wallace gifts the police a new and better replicant. His latest creation, named Luv, will never disobey his creator. Unlike Ash, she will never kill humans and side with replicants. But no cops wanted a Skinjob for a partner and impeded her efforts. So Wallace gives her a perfect partner in Blade Runner 2039 #5: a replicant modeled on that renegade, disgraced Blade Runner, and replicant-lover Ash.
It’s been twenty years since Ash helped Isobel and Cleo escape off-world. Now they’ve returned, or at least Cleo has. The young girl has grown into a woman. Still, she longs to find her mother. Cleo thinks Isobel may be in San Francisco. The best way to travel there—without alerting the authorities—is to travel offroad in a beat-up old truck. But traveling offroad entails certain risks. Perhaps Ash contemplates these as she says her goodbyes to Freysa. There’s no doubting her feelings for the former combat-grade replicant. To distract themselves from their parting and the dangers Ash will face, the two women discuss the implications of Selwyn’s research.
Ridley Scott, the director of Blade Runner, describes himself as more a worldbuilder than a storyteller. Titan Comics has expanded Scott’s world with Blade Runner 2019, 2029, Origins, and Black Lotus. As writer Mike Johnson opens the next chapter of this expanded universe with Blade Runner 2039 #5, artist Andres Guinaldo returns us to an Earth that feels closer to director Denis Villeneuve’s sequel Blade Runner 2049 than Scott’s original film. Niander Wallace meets with city authorities in a vast hall. Despite the grandeur of the setting, he often resides in shadow. Sometimes only his eyes, and part of his mouth, grow distinct. Yet there’s no disguising the intensity of his feelings and his ruthless hunger for perfection. His replicant Ash, which he’s named Rash, resembles the younger Blade Runner of the first series. Unlike her imperfect human model, the replicant strikes an impressive figure. Quietly elegant in a suit and green overcoat, her black hair falls to her shoulders and shrouds her emotionless face.
With her shaved head, Cleo looks like she’s had a hard life. Freysa also looks tired and worn out by all she’s endured. At least her replacement eye allows her to view the world without an eyepatch in Blade Runner 2039 #5. Of the three, the years weigh the heaviest on Ash. But then, she was granted opportunities nature never gave her, thanks to an artificial spine in Blade Runner 2019 and a strange rejuvenation in 2029. Yet even though she hobbles around on a cane, she’s still a force of nature, always thinking of what she must do next. Sometimes Marco Lesko’s coloring shows a touch of gray in Blade Runner 2039 #5. Yet scenes reveal striking luminescence. A glowing moon Ash and Freysa’s parting. The truck’s headlights burn like stars as it rumbles across the dirt, casting a writhing, merging cloud in its wake. Green plants and a darker green sky contrast with the old red truck that defies obsolescence to obey Ash’s commands.
When bullets fly, they resemble the tracer rounds of military combatants. Jim Campbell helps us hear their impacts with bold black letters outlined in white. He fills white balloons with uppercase black letters that could be a little larger for fans who saw Blade Runner during its original theatrical run. But our protagonists’ low-key utterances and movements shield a depth of feeling that makes Niander Wallace’s intensity resemble a childish tantrum.
Blade Runner 2039 #5 burns with a creator’s striving for perfection, a young woman’s hunger to find her mother, and a woman who works tirelessly to help the people society so readily discards.