Saturday, November 26, 2016

CBR:Quickies RoboCop: Last Stand

Aka Frank Miller's RoboCop 3.

What if Miller actually had his say in the RoboCop film sequels?

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.

In 2007, Dynamite Entertainment bought the 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. Their own take on the infamous classic RoboCop Vs. Terminator comic book crossover in 2011.

Finally in 2013 BOOM! Studios acquired the RoboCop series and they decide to please both old and new fans alike. Several one-shots were published set in the universe of the 2014 reboot and a new ongoing series would follow Frank Miller's take on RoboCop.

That's right, they first started republished the original Avatar series Frank Miller's Robocop as "RoboCop Volume One".

Which was followed by a direct continuation called RoboCop: Last Stand, an 8-part limited series, still written by Steven Grant based on Frank Miller's unused screenplays.

Comic title: RoboCop Vol 1, previously known as Frank Miller's RoboCop  
Written by Frank Miller & Steven Grant
Art by Juan Jose Ryp
Format: Trade Paperback collecting Avar Press' RoboCop (2003) #1-9.

[Previously reviewed here.]
Overall: A perfect example of the worse Frank Miller can do... With some good ideas distilled here and there.

It's not a bad comic book per say, but still a pretty dense, cliché and overblown story.

Scenes stretch too long, Murphy and RoboCop 2's fight scenes are way too long and boring. The RoboCop 2 mech has basically 4-5 attacks represented by icons in his HUD screen he keeps using again and again and again and... And it's just not that interesting.

Lewis basically only goes to see her sergeant to talk to him and get back to the other cops to band together, and that took her 9 entire issues. With 2 whole issues following her in action! And let's not even talk about the way she was treated in here... Was it worse than getting killed so early on in Robocop 3? Probably...

The art saves it a bit, it's so well rendered, weird and impressive. Fitting Miller's vision, I guess...

The best parts are probably all the scenes that would be recycled in RoboCop 3, here making so much more sense linked to RoboCop 2's storyline. Better than the third movie? Yup.

But thankfully, the film producers had someone rewrite it into a more memorable and much more cohesive story. (The final showdown between Murphy and RoboCop 2 has so much more impact and makes more sense in the film.)

I give this one a: 1.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: RoboCop Vol. 2: Last Stand Part One
Written by Frank Miller & Steven Grant
Art by Korkut Öztekin

Format: Trade collecting RoboCop: Last Stand issues #1-4.

Our story takes place some unknown time after the events of the original film and the above Frank Miller's RoboCop 2 comic.

The police and the government was now shut down by the multinational OCP, which own their own private forces. RoboCop was left a vigilante of sorts, running from his creators and protecting the poor people of Old Detroit. He's been waging a one-robot war against this corrupt police state, badly scratched from years of fighting.

You see OCP is about to take over these old run-down houses in Cadillac Heights square, to build their dream of "Delta City". They want to start by opening the Livery Towers for big business corporate.

This Japanese corporation in hands with OCP deploys this indestructible ninja robot dude, Otomo (because.. Frank Miller?). There's also this business woman Faxx trying to take over the Old Man one way or another, and nothing, nobody will stop her!!

Meanwhile this hacker Marie Lacasse is able to locate Murphy and joins him in his quest.

RoboCop is mostly destroyed, but his new ally is able to get him down in the sewers where they rebuilt him, Detroit-style!

Overall: What a weird story this is!

It's an adaptation of Frank Miller's original unused screenplay for RoboCop 3. With a far simpler more streamlined narrative, since his vision for RoboCop 2 already contained elements RoboCop 3 would end up having. Frank Miller's take on RoboCop 3 was actually much simpler in comparison. Which is kind of a good thing since that film was such a mess.

Much more streamlined. Packed with action. With the exact same type of hyper-violence and crude.

The only issues I have is that there's not satirical tone, not any once of dark humor in it, and the original film did contained its fair share of self-referential humor I was missing here.

Sure, the OCP storyline is  nothing new and the Japanese robot Otomo is over-the-top, but that's the angle RoboCop 3 was going for. We already did the man-or-machine thing in the first film and the obsolescence plot in the second film and Frank Miller's comic. Going all out with non-sense was all there was left.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Comic title: RoboCop Vol. 3: Last Stand Part Two
Written by Frank Miller, Steven Grant & Ed Brisson
Art by Korkut Öztekin

Format: Trade collecting RoboCop: Last Stand issues #5-8.

The second part can be seen as the climax and the resolution of the story.

Even more Otomos are sent to Detroit - how many of these things did they build?!

A strange Miller-style relationship between Murphy and Marie starts to develop.

And this is as gritty and brutal as it gets. In the first few pages they basically kill the entire supporting cast of characters that survived the last book.

Marie's consciousnesses is "uploaded into a computer and this Cyber-Marie hijacks OCP was they brought over RoboCop and she has her revenge on them by rebuilding RoboCop to 100% of his full capacity. Updated for war, with top-of-the-line tech, Murphy gets to redo the awfully cheesy flying scene from RoboCop 3. Only now it's with a pair of shiny metallic wings instead of a jet pack! Robo's ready for his showdown with a bunch of Otomos.

Meanwhile Marie builds herself a kickass T&A robotic body, so she can be reunited with Murphy and it won't be weird this time.

After the main storyline comes to an end, the book closes with a pretty bad, bland and dark epilogue written by Ed Brisson that basically destroys all the previous pages. The series tried to build the people of Detroit fighting off the man for their home. It was all for nothing and some new punks kill them all and destroy everything RoboCop fought for.

Overall: The first volume of Last Stand had some hope for a much better RoboCop 3 and a much more coherent vision of Frank Miller's take on the character.

Volume Two (or this 3rd volume of Frank Miller's RoboCop) basically ruins everything and is just one big giant climatic fight for 4 entire issues. Why did this need to be split into 8 issues again...?

It's dumb. And even without Frank Miller writing it directly, it definitively had his signature style through and through.

I give this one a: 1 / 3 Score!

I can only recommend these books for the biggest RoboCop fans out there, curious to see what proper a Frank Miller's RoboCop series would have turned out like. Maybe a film following this narrative could have worked, but I, for one, am glad we got the films as they are. For everyone else? Skip It!

Next up, the RoboCop 2014 comics!
That's all for this time's Quickies!

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