Sunday, December 28, 2014

CBR Terminator/RoboCop: Kill Human

In anticipation of the upcoming new Terminator film next year, here's a comic equally as much complicated as far as time travel and alternate realities go.

Comic title: Terminator/RoboCop: Kill Human
Art by P.J. Holden 
Story by Rob Williams 

Published by Dynamite Entertainment
From 2011
Lineup Terminator series/RoboCop series
Format: Trade paperback collecting the limited mini-series Terminator/RoboCop: Kill Human #1-4.

I'm pretty sure the entire idea behind Dynamite getting the rights to both The Terminator and the RoboCop franchise was to culminate in this entire series.

RoboCop and Terminator are no stranger to crossovers. Afterall while this dreammatch never happened on the big screen, the 1990s gave us the super-popular Frank Miller RoboCop Versus The Terminator comics (which I didn't really enjoy to be frank) and the cult classic video game by the same title (which was so much better).

The idea might sound strange, but it actually makes so much sense as a concept. I would even dare say it evens makes more sense than all the entire AVP sub-series. Both series are ripe with parallels and opposites. RoboCop might look like a machine on the outside but there's actually still a man inside, similarly while Terminators look human there's actually a robot beneath it all. One stands to protect humans, the other is a killing machine all bent on destroying mankind. Both series relating to our fears and the dangers mankind might face: RoboCop being about human greed at its worse in our society, the other franchise revolving over the danger of relying too much on our own technology. RoboCop turning into a much more optimistic figure at the end of the day, Skynet representing a far darker incoming looming doom on the horizon.

Following a couple of (somewhat adequate) miniseries for both RoboCop and Terminator at Dynamite, this marked their first try at a crossover between the two franchises (here collected for the first time, in a neatly packaged trade paperback representing both protagonists on either side).

Written by Rob Williams who reprized his role as storyteller from the RoboCop comics (where I complained he didn't really get much the character in the past..), with artist P.J. Holden on art duty.

Our story opens in the future.

Humanity is about to get completely wiped out. In this reality, the machines are finally about to win the war. Only one last human squad has escaped from Skynet. We meet this girl Lauren (who is kinda reminiscent of Flo in the original RoboCop Versus The Terminator). Her teammates get killed one by one as she makes it towards this last building standing in the area. There she founds relics from the past, and entire museum dedicated to cybernetics and robots! And, surprise, oh surprise, she finds there Alex Murphy - RoboCop, the original "part-machine, part-man, all-cop" Police Officer from Detroit! She activates him just in time to save her.. but then Skynet gets a hold of Murphy and uses our hero to kill the last human on Earth. Skynet has won. Humanity is no more.

RoboCop decides to use his newfound "alliance" with Skynet to locate the time displacement unit to go back to the past and try preventing the annihilation of the entire humanity!

Murphy arrives back during the events of Terminator 2, as John Connor, Sarah and the T-800 are being chased by the shape-shifting T-1000! His objective? Changing the course of history so his actions prevent Cyberdyne Systems from unleashing Skynet on the world!

But he soon finds these events difficult to cancel, the future being already in motion. So if you can't stop this new timeline to unfold, he might just be able to alter history if he can prevent those events from happening.

Murphy wants to avoid the genocide of mankind at the hands of Skynet at all cost. So he meets a young Dick Jones, future CEO of OCP (the would be-future villain of  RoboCop 1) in what probably is one of the numerous continuity errors of this book (don't overthink details too much, believe me, it's for the best...). I'm pretty sure Rob Williams meant the guy that created RoboCop and the EDs, and not the "Old Man". Anyway, RoboCop creates his own private force, an army of machine of his own - ED-209s!! They also developed a special acid to destroy all this future tech that shouldn't exist in the past. (But why was RoboCop ok with releasing ED-209s decades earlier?)

But soon the T-1000 is after our protagonists...

And everybody dies at the end.

In a strange turn of events, Murphy acts less human than he has ever been in any past RoboCop story...

This four-issue mini-series starts pretty decent. It's actually a pretty good start. And it's such a fun idea, how could you mess this up?

But from here it turns into a pretty shallow story... There was so much potential and the pitch was so strong...

It's a great synopsis to start with RoboCop/Alex Murphy having surviving well into the "War Against the Machines". It's an interesting way to mash up both these classic franchises.

This interesting mix works great in the beginning. We witness RoboCop trying to help prevent Judgement Day. The events of T2 start unraveling out of control. And about mid-point things start to take a turn for the worse...

Sarah Connor feels off, one time on John Connor/The T-800's side, then back on RoboCop's side and his radical view to put a stop to Skynet at all cost. Then back to reason. The T-800 is a joke here. And let's not even mention how out-of-character RoboCop is here..

There's also so much random needless violence here, just because. Now, I know Paul Verhoeven did that and a thousand times worse, but at least he had a reason for it and a certain style to it. Here it just feels so out of place and gratuitous (did we really need a decapitated young John Connor in a full page spread??).

Kill Human does a lot of reference to the movies. It's full of allusions and even several random mashed-up quotes like "Come with me if you want to live. You have ten seconds to comply". That was... actually pretty fun.

There's also a random Jaws allusion thrown in there for no reason (should we expect a "Terminator Vs. RoboCop Vs. Jaws" next?).

Paul J. Holden's art has a huge 90s vibe to it. The inking and colors certainly didn't help it stand out much. It looks like every other RoboCop and Terminator comic made in the 1990s. This "dirty" sketchy artstyle was perhaps not the best suited for this crossover. Some of the likeness are pretty good (the young John Connor from T2 comes to mind), but the rest of the characters are only just passable. This story would have been much better suited to a talented 2000AD scifi artist no doubt.

Finally the trade also contains a bonus cover gallery with the artwork provided by Walt Simonson and Tom Feister for the mini. Walt Simonson's gorgeous cover work much better than the inside interior art...

Overall, it's.. okay, but not by much.

These two scifi icons, both challenging how we relate to technology, both spawning entire multimedia franchises covering movies, TV shows, games and, of course, comics, certainly deserved better.

The dialogue comes off pretty bad. They're the most distracing aspect of Kill Human. RoboCop has some pretty weird off-putting dialogues, certainly out of character for Murphy (I can't picture his "voice" coming out of his mouth with whatever Rob Williams wrote here).

The story tries for something complicated.. and only ends up in a pretty simple mess. Despite using time travel, it's a pretty straightforward tale.

It's a decent book, if it feels it could have easily been so much more with a bit more thought put into it. Blame it on another rushed book by Dynamite, a problem I have with all these series they released recently like both Terminator and RoboCop which always seem to start on a strong premise and never live up to the hype.

All in all, Give it a Look if you're a fan of either of these scifi classic series, but don't expect much from it, really.

The best RoboCop Versus Terminator experience to this day remains the original video game in my eyes.

Kill Human ends up being a pretty stupid story, with cheap looking art. It feels like they only put the minimal effort into it while riding off 80s nostalgia (both these franchises have since gotten new movie entries by now, with Terminator 5 coming up next year!).

I give it:

1.5 / 3 Aaylas!

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