Tuesday, April 30, 2013

CBR RoboCop Vs. Terminator


Here's one of the most famous crossovers in the history of science-fiction series alongside the likes of Aliens Vs. Predator and Freddy Vs. Jason...

Good...bad... answer after the jump!

The war against the machines begins here, with these following reviews:

Comic title: RoboCop Versus The Terminator 
Art by Walter Simonson
Written by Frank Miller

Published by Dark Horse Comics
From 1992
Lineup RoboCop, Terminator Series
Format: Trade Paperback collecting the 4 issues mini-series RoboCop Versus The Terminator.

RoboCop versus Terminator is the crossover nobody expected.

Yet as random as it sounds, the idea sounds also as alluring as it seems plausible.

Both series are pretty similar in tone, they're both "punk" (in the broadest sense of the term) experiments from the 80s, showing the same fear of the modernism technology and mega-corporations seem to promise. Both rooted in the same kind of adult action/science-fiction genre. Both generated their own respective franchises over the years. Both featuring robots...

It all probably came from RoboCop's original trailer.

Like The Terminator, the RoboCop series was originally created by Orion Pictures (before branching out). The musical composition wasn't ready yet, so instead of just using plain stock music they used the theme from Terminator in place of the RoboCop theme.

Even if didn't make a crossover an obvious suggestion for a sequel, the idea was out there and stuck for a while in the mind of several fans.

Until Frank Miller had the chance to be the writer behind RoboCop 2 and RoboCop 3. He originally pitched this story for a film production, but getting the Terminator rights back and James Cameron to greenlight the project didn't seem possible at the time.

So instead he made a comic book out of it. Easier done. With Dark Horse Comics having both IPs at the time. And they had a history with movie franchises such as Indiana Jones, The Thing, etc. and crossover comics with Aliens and Predator.

The story sounds like such a logical step for both series it's a surprise no one else came up with it quicker or first.

It's the year 2029.

The human resistance is dangerously about to lose the war against the machines it seems. There's only a few of them now, scattered around to avoid Skynet's drones.

A rebel woman named Flo Langer is able to locate the last Time Displacement Equipment. She also finds out what John Connor discovered recently - it was a human mind that helped Skynet become a self-aware AI. A mind that is both equal part man and part machine.

Flo goes back to the past, in Detroit to find officer Alex Murphy and kill him.

But it is already too late, he's already become part machine.

Three T-800s are sent to present day to protect RoboCop at all costs.

RoboCop's brain ends up plugged to a computer network which results in the rise of the machines.

At which points, the story properly "jumps the shark". Judgment Day happens. The years go by. The post-apocalyptic future happens.

But RoboCop has not given up the fight! His consciousness still amidst Skynet's network.

Cyber-Murphy is able to take over a Terminator facility. Builds himself a whole new body. Rise an army of RoboCops and face Terminators in one last assault!

Yep. Pretty much it.

The story seemed coherent enough in the first page.

Hey, Frank Miller did write the RoboCop sequels. Which go from good to average.

He does get a bit of Murphy's sadness. And the story is gritty enough, like a good ol' fashioned action film from the 80s.

He even recycles plot points that were ditched in the big screen. Namely Murphy's consciousness/dreams in the computer world.

Where all good sense is thrown out the window is in the time travel present here in this book.

You don't need to either be a time travel geek or that familiar with the concept to see that something's not right.

In the "time travel theory" present in this comic, it allows you to change back time with a ripple effect of sort. People in the future will somehow notice it and there still remain enough "spare time" to apparently go back in time and fix things before it effects the future...?

This happens several times - one would have been enough - and you're left to wonder if Frank Miller has any idea what "time" is.

It's not like it's the only ridiculous aspect of this book. RoboCop versus Terminator has his load of silly situations and convenient plot devices. From the guns that get bigger each page, to Robocop's stupid jetpack from part 3, to Murphy's Terminator-ization in the final issue... Yep, we're in one of those cliché comics from the 1990s...

There's also one hilarious bit that tries to give a meaning to the machine's war against humans. And what would they do after conquering the Earth. And it involves traveling into space with ridiculous Terminator-spaceships.... Miller, oh, you...

Walter Simonson's art is Frank Miller enough to left you wonder if he let Miller do some of the bigger panels/splash pages. It's a Frank Miller comic book through and through!

He did perfectly well on capturing the essence of a Miller comic. Wide shoulders, huge torsos, etc.

The epic climatic battle reach with an army of RoboCops and Terminators all sillier one from another. You're left to wonder: Why didn't they make any toys out of this "graphic novel"?

There's never been a proper Trade Paperback release to this day. Only a rare exclusive reprint by Diamond Comics (you can see me holding above). It's basically all the issues, with ads and all, with a cardboard cover glued to them together.

The original issues contained silly cardboard stand-ups that can't be taken out without ruining the books. Yeah, that's right, even in my TPB. They represented Robo, a T-800, Flo and ED-209 (who makes a pretty fun cameo in this book, easily the highlight of the entire series).

Overall, the idea sounded really cool on paper... the result on the other hand.

Don't mistake me, it's definitively a cult classic and deserves a read.

But don't go wasting too much money on this.

The trade is sadly out of print nowadays, but you can probably find the original issues easily for pretty cheap.

It's typical silly comic book fun. A great idea but ruined in the execution. There's not much going for it despite all the hype you get from a Frank Miller title usually.

The time travel is as ridiculous as possible, and that's saying something for someone who's usually a fan of the gimmick. Miller stretches the concepts way to far for it to make any sense.

There was a RoboCop versus Terminator videogame for retro systems at the time. Which was much better, but I'll keep that for later.

Check it out only if you're a hardcore fan of RoboCop and the Terminator.

I give it:
1.5 / 3 Aaylas!

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