Sunday, November 2, 2014

CBR:Quickies RoboCop (Dynamite)

Robots!! A city in chaos!! A crazy priest! A remote-controlled gold RoboCop duplicate? Giant robot dogs??

It's yet another Dynamite Entertainment-style silly comic book adaptation, isn't it?

Following the classic run of RoboCop comic books at Marvel Comics in the late 1980s, Dark Horse Comics then acquired the rights for the series to have RoboCop join their then-growing number of licensed material in the 90s.

After a pretty long hiatus from the newsstand, Avatar Press would finally obtain the copyright of the franchise to produce new material from 2003 to 2006. They first used the IP right away to produce a series based on Frank Miller's original screenplay for RoboCop 2 which contained several elements that would be later used in RoboCop 3 as well. Since that production was pretty slow, they published a couple of other stories in the meantime.

Finally in 2007, Dynamite Entertainment bought the RoboCop license, along the rights to the Terminator franchises. No doubt for the sole purpose to release a brand new crossover between these two iconic fan-beloved scifi robotic Hollywood blockbuster series..

What they did first was to release a couple of on-going RoboCop mini-series following one another. Which would be followed by their own take on the infamous classic RoboCop Vs. Terminator which they only did much later shortly before losing the rights to both characters in 2011.

Sadly they only started making these comics in January 2010, which didn't leave them with much time to do anything really (nor even properly reprint some of these, but more on that below..) .

For this new batch of RoboCop comics, they decided to go back to basics. Leaving both the later Hollywood continuations (RoboCop 3, RoboCop: The Series, etc.) or Frank Miller's strange alternate universe aside to go back to the much simpler and better narrative of the very first RoboCop film. Instead focusing on world-building from there and offering a new follow-up to Paul Verhoeven's classic. But this would of course quickly go into its own new direction... which didn't turn out as good as their intentions...

Comic title: RoboCop Vol 1: Revolution or just RoboCop: Revolution or RoboCop (2010)
Written by Rob Williams
Art by Fabiano Neves
Format: Trade paperback collecting the mini-series RoboCop #1-4.

Our story takes place an undisclosed amount of time following the events of the original movie ignoring everything else produced in between (with perhaps the exception of RoboCop 2, although it's not entirely clear if it happened. at least the "Old Man" is clearly closer to his evil self as he was in the second film).

The future of law enforcement is here!

In RoboCop's debut series at Dynamite, old Detroit is closer to the dystopian city in the brink of chaos it was in RoboCop 1. There's violent conflicts all over town and all these power struggles and conspiracies in the various structures of the hierarchy at OCP. We also have some elements of satire back, but to not much success to be honest.

Our story opens with a news infomercial from Media Break.

There's a new chief executive in charge at OCP, and this Edwina Odenkirk is nothing like the company has ever seen yet.

RoboCop is busy with all these turf wars happening all over town (that would even make Predator 2's look like an afterschool special). When suddenly he receives some strange new backup on the job in the form of an army of Ed-209s!? Much to all the cops and Sarge's surprise this is part of OCP taking over the administration of the city (which solidifies the idea this might take place after the first movie sequel). New propaganda from OCP starts running on TV non-stop.

All the cops end up out of job (except RoboCop, since he's OCP propriety). This reporter Jerome H. Moss tries to show them some evidence he captured on film.

There's also this crazy insane reverend (?) that is calling people to arms, to defend their city from the invading robots and the corporation! Turns out this army of anarchists is led by an insane madman, an ex-soldier turned to Buddhism, turned crazy evil priest figure.

OCP unleashes a new model of Eds, the Ed-309s!

But Alex Murphy can't help the situation, he's leading a battle of his own! His memories get invaded by a recreation of the ex-OCP President Dick Jones. It's a virtual simulation by the Old Man trying to take over RoboCop's body. The dying Old Man is causing these hallucinations to invade Murphy's robotic body. He wants a new body for himself, and he has set sights on RoboCop.

It is revealed RoboCop was apparently a "fluke". They came up with these unexpected results that should have made Murphy braindead like all the other RoboCop prototypes. Murphy's memories resurface and he takes control back.

Finally, Lewis gets shot by accident during the climax of the conflict...

This series featured covers by regular Dynamite artists Stephen Segovia, Johnny Desjardins and David Michael Beck.

Overall: This short-live RoboCop series (later subtitled "Revolution") is actually pretty okay. Recommended if you're a fan of the franchise.

It's a fairly decent RoboCop sequel on its own, if it doesn't seem to have nothing much going for it really.

It's pretty fun but also kinda over-the-top silly at times. My main issues with it is that it seems to have a lot missed opportunities to be so much more. Rob Williams probably tried to do too much with it, aiming to juggle all these storylines in only 4 issues...

There's also far less action than you'd expect.

Artist Fabiano Neves (an Army of Darkness regular) does a pretty decent job. It's certainly less detailed than Avatar Press' RoboCop but it looks pretty good. The machines seem to lack a bit of polished, but it works here.

Strangely missing from this trade paperback are the last two issues of this mini.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Comic title: RoboCop #5
Written by Rob Williams
Art by Unai Dezarate 
Format: Single issue from the RoboCop mini-series.

In this missing issue, our story takes place immediately after Lewis was just shot in the shoulder.

RoboCop goes looking for a doctor to help. He arrests a member from this gang and forces him to tell him where everyone went.

He then goes looking for them in their hideout, they've apparently taken a doctor hostage.

But in the end RoboCop doesn't really arrive so late, as in "it was already too late" since the beginning.

Also - Murphy starts having hallucinations of these guys he killed back in the first movie...

Overall: These following two issues, Robocop #5-6, are kinda stock filler. And I can see why they were collected with the above book. But for the sake of completion they should have done that nonetheless.

While they didn't serve to bridge the gap between "Revolution" and the below "Road Trip", they were still very much part of this first arc and should still have been collected with the first volume.

They're actually both stand-alone stories. And for this reason, it seems nothing much happen in those really. You can still read the overall story seamlessly without those inserted in-between.

This is a big filler issue in which nothing happens. We got Lewis shot dead in the last issue, and here RoboCop just can't seem to accept it and goes looking around for a pointless doctor.

I give this one a: 1 / 3 Score!

Comic title: RoboCop #5
Written by Rob Williams
Art by Unai Dezarate 
Format: Single issue from the RoboCop mini-series.

In the last issue of this mini-series, an Ed-309 is on the loose!

It was stuck in his locked "war mode", returned to its factory default by accident. And now it's destroying everything in sight!

It arrives at the station and goes after the chief while RoboCop tries to stop it.

Suddenly the Ed goes looking for an enemy to face. And America's nearest nearby country is.. Canada!

But was actually Edwina is able to turn it into a profit by selling some more 309s to Canada and it all becomes a big cover to show off what the Eds can really do to other nations... 

Overall: While it was also pretty much filler material, at least stuff happens in this issue... even if by the end of the issue it is kinda rendered a moot point.

It's a fun little story (an Ed-309 looking for a nation to go to far with), but nothing really matters in the end, no stakes are risen, the status quo is not affected.

Still it was a lot better than the way this whole thing would turn out in the final story arc...

I give this one a: 1.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: RoboCop Vol 2: Road Trip or just RoboCop: Road Trip
Written by Rob Williams
Art by Unai Dezarate 
Format: Limited mini-series RoboCop: Road Trip #1-4.

This one's a direct follow-up to the above first volume, picking up right directly where it left of.

America's in the middle of a "Revolution". Taking advantage of the on-going chaos in Old Detroit, OCP did a political coup and finally took over the city for good. Now, RoboCop and what'ss left of the police department are trying to keep people safe in the streets while an army of ED-309s patrol the city.

The story opens with a memory of the young Alex Murphy, during a summer camping trip with his dad.

RoboCop's mind getting worse. He's having visions of all these people he killed, such as Clarence Boddiker from the first film and that other guy that got disintegrated by toxic products (remember?).

The streets are overrun by Ed-309.

In the middle of these visions, RoboCop doesn't know what is real or visions... that is when he's attacked by an actual replicate of him - A golden RoboCop?!

Turns out the Old Man's controlling it! Why did he need the actual RoboCop again? Well this one's only a temporary means, remote-controlled from his health station.

They need to find a way outside the city to communicate with the US Military about the current situation of Detroit. They mount a small team with the chief and a couple of blues, as well as the reporter from the previous story. Hence the "Road Trip" from the title.

Meanwhile Edwina's trying to take over the entire OCP and for this she needs to eliminate all her competition at OCP.

Our heroes make a run for it. But Edwina dispatches a brand new prototype of robots. Hunter-robot prototypes. Basically huge robot-dogs. They track RoboCop as our protagonists are trying to get aboard a plane. The plane crashes in Lake Erie and RoboCop and the machine sunk into the water. RoboCop is losing his mind, haunted by those memories of a nightmarish robot-bear (??). Finally he gets the better of the situation.

They're saved by a couple of helicopters that take them to Cleveland. Is it the resistance or a private army? Who is this mysterious man? It's Jeremiah White of  WHITETM.

They learn the truth - the US Government as we knew it is no more. It's a brand New America out there!

This series featured covers from the previous series' artist Fabiano Neves as well as Unai Dezarate's.

Overall: All things said and considered, this was pretty bad.

I can't believe so very little actually happened in this book. The previous arc suffered from too many side-storylines, but this second story barely contains any plot at all. And they stretched the idea of RoboCop getting outside the city on a road trip stretched over all these four issues!! I can't just believe this was from the same writer! My guess is that the actual original storyline was cut short due to Dynamite stopping the book. And he had to scale things down and simplify his original intentions for what we ended up with here.

Once more this seems to be the case of a Dynamite-published comic which had a story with so much potential... and somehow lost focus and fell apart in its conclusion.

And let's not even mention the much promised "Road Trip" which didn't really happen and just felt short compared to what was promised from it.

A trade paperback was supposed to collect this entire second volume, but after getting delayed many times and finally losing the rights to publish it anymore they simply scrapped it. Despite all this, a few websites listed it for a possible 2014 release, but apparently the new rights owners of RoboCop didn't allow them to print it (an entire omnibus compilation of Dark Horse's run of RoboCop comics was also announced for this year and canceled along it).

All in all - Avoid this!

I give this one a: 1 / 3 Score!

And that is it for Dynamite's RoboCop series!

For some reason, both Dynamite "RoboCop: Road Trip" and "Terminator: Revolution" contained a giant robot dog as part plot device. I can't figure why!?

They would follow both this series and Terminator's with Terminator/RoboCop: Kill Human in 2011.

Since then, BOOM! Studios acquired the rights in 2013. They first reprinted Frank Miller's comic book adaptation before following it with some exclusive new stories.

They also produced a couple of comics revolving around the 2014 reboot film before going back to the original trilogy this year with new material for the original RoboCop series.

That's all for this time's Quickies!

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