The lost Frank Miller epic revealed at last!
The war against the machines begins here, with these following reviews:
Comic title: Frank Miller's RoboCop
Art by Juan Jose Ryp
Written by Steven Grant
Based on a screenplay by Frank Miller
Published by Pulsar Press inprint/Avatar Press
Lineup RoboCop Series
Format: Trade Paperback collecting Avar Press' RoboCop (2003) #1-9.
If RoboCop 2 is a passable sequel, it's far from being the perfect epic comic book writer Frank Miller imagined originally. The producers deemed Miller's original script simply "unfilmable" at the time.
So Miller had to cut the many details, ideas and storylines he had running around for a much simpler and standard film. Though he did later recycle many of these subplots into his RoboCop 3 he later had much bigger control over.
Is that a good sign of the quality of his original work?
Well, fear not, true believers! Because when Avatar Press got the rights to the RoboCop franchises from Dark Horse Comics, they decided to start using this IP by launching a comic book series based on Frank Miller's original script! Unedited, uncensored! Miller loved the idea of course. His original work finally displayed to all.
Due to a little conflict in schedules, Miller wasn't able to breakdown his script into comic book form. So he let another writer do so, Steven Grant who had previously written the movie adaptation of RoboCop 3.
And what followed was... Well, let's just say an extended take on RoboCop 2 with several details from Robo 3...
The general story is the same as in Robo 2. It's in the way the events take place and the little details that make Frank Miller's RoboCop an entirely new beast.
Omni Consumer Products (OCP) has finally bought the city. Old Detroit is slowly being turned into their dream city, Delta City!
The city is being destroyed and people are being made homeless.
The cops are on strike, due to OCP cutting down their entire budget. Bullets are even numbered.
To "help" the cops the OCP forces a privatized force, the Rehabilitators aka Rehabs for short.
Alex Murphy now RoboCop is becoming quite obsolete. To replace him OCP starts working on a new model, RoboCop 2. After many failed attempts a psychologist Dr. Love who just joined the company but has been making quite an impression decides to take over the Robocop program.
She reprograms Murphy with 1881 new directive(!) to turn him into a role model for children.
While Robo's partner Officer Anne Lewis is trying to get the cops back to fight the threat of OCP, Murphy is able to have Love reset his directives. But not before leaving Love for death.
She gets inside RoboCop 2's mind and tries a final onslaught on Murphy and the Detroit Police Department!
The story does follow R2 overall structure. It follows OCP's new attempt at another RoboCop model. With it going on a rampage and the old original RoboCop fighting back for the good of others.
But the principal deviation in the plot being the incorporation of the Rehabs and the subplot of Murphy obtaining his freedom back from his directives.
This story does feature the usual mock-News bits and the fake commercials in pure Paul Verhoeven fashion. In comic book form it doesn't lose much impact since it's a gimmick Miller made use quite a lot in the past in his work, such as in Dark Knight Returns.
this comic ran from 2003 to 2006.
What it really succeeds is turning Verhoeven's classic over-the-top tone up to eleven! The violence is quite exaggerated. A thing Avatar Press never shied away from.
But the problem is, it also comes along the usual flaws in Avatar's comic book line. meaning here the violence becomes almost puerile. Really juvenile and stupid at times. It's violent just to shock. Sexist just to appeal to teenage boys. I mean, it almost becomes silly. Lewis looks more like a pineup model than anything else, really. She opens up her shirt before a fight for no reason, loses bits of her clothes every page. Dr. Love uses her sexuality to achieve success, so that means that was already part of Miller's plot and not just on the artist. But then she proceeds to pose every panel! For no reason at all!
Some of these problems are of course due to Juan Jose Ryp's art. He's a fantastic artist, his artwork is quite impressive, amazingly detailed. Giving a dimension to the gritty tone of this story and the state of Detroit in it.
But then due to it being an Avatar Press comic he had to make it sexy. And went way overboard with it.
If it sort of worked with Avatar Press other movie based comics, mostly horror and slasher film proprieties. Here it is a bit out of place for RoboCop.
But while females get the short end in this story, Miller's story loses itself in long stretched chase scenes (hey, the screenplay was for a blockbuster movie originally!) and so many subplots...
There's some interesting changes though. The drug lord (and his nuke) gets replaced by a Rehab hulking monster. Which ties everything nicely. The Rehabs actually are mercenaries here, a military force to reckon with. Which makes this incarnation of them much more interesting than the flat random force in the actual third movie.
Lewis doesn't die but the sergeant does here.
And even though RoboCop 3 as it is doesn't have a need to happen after this version of the plot, some hints at the end allude to a different continuation Miller had in mind. With a Japanese corporation also buying out OCP and moving on Detroit...
Overall, it's a perfect example of the worse Frank Miller can do... With some good ideas distilled here and there.
Here, 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. R2 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 issues solely following her action! And let's not even talk about the way she's 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 and impressive. Fitting. Sometimes...
The best parts are probably all the scenes relating to RoboCop 3, here making so much more sense linked to Robocop 2's storyline. Better than the third movie? Probably.
But thankfully, the film producers had someone rewrite it into a more memorable and much more cohesive story. (the final showdown between RoboCops 1 and 2 has so much more impact and makes more sense in the film..)
I give it: