Hello, my friends. 2017 has come to a close, but there’s still some time to finish up celebrating the anniversary of a beloved sci-fi series. As such, I welcome you to the second part of my special event known as…
Last time, we looked at RoboCop’s earliest comic book ventures. We started off with Marvel’s run where they adapted the first two films while also sending Alex into fantasical comic book adventures. Afterwards, we looked at Dark Horse’s tenure where they adapted the third film while also serving as its own continuation of the film series. For more information about that era, check out the first part of my retrospective. For now, let’s continue our venture!
Less than a decade after Dark Horse’s run with the property came to a close, the RoboCop comics license would get picked up by Avatar Press, based out of Rantoul, Illinois. In terms of what major project the company had in store for the franchise, it involved something that dates back to the series’ second theatrical outing.
In an essay for the preview issue given out on Free Comic Book Day 2003, series writer Steven Grant (who also wrote the comic adaptation of RoboCop 3) expressed much enthusiasm when he looked over Frank Miller’s original screenplay for RoboCop 2. When Avatar Press decided to adapt it into a comic book, they told Grant “We want everything in the screenplay in there, so tell us how many issues you need.”. His essay can be reached in the link, so here’s how the seeds for this series came about. Following the huge success of the hit 1988 Batman comic “The Dark Knight Returns”, Jon Davison (who produced the first two films) contacted Miller on writing the screenplay for the sequel. Even though Frank constantly showed up during production to learn about the film-writing process (even garnering a cameo as Cain’s drug chemist named “Frank”), his original script was deemed “unfilmable” by Orion Pictures’ studio executives and was ultimately rewritten into the underwhelming feature that debuted in 1990. After Avatar Press got the comics license and told Miller that they were interested in adapting his original script, he was unable to write or draw on the project due to a conflicting schedule (though he would draw the main covers).
Written by Grant and drawn by Juan Jose Ryp, this series began on August 2003 before embarking on an erratic release schedule that became far too familiar with those who know about Frank Miller’s infamous “All-Star Batman & Robin”. Issues 2-4 would see a monthly release from October to December 2003 before its fifth entry came out on February 2004. Issue #6 wouldn’t come out until July and the seventh part didn’t see the light of day until October. For issue #8, it wasn’t released until June 2005 while the ninth and final issue ended up coming out on January 2006. Even with the inconsistent release schedule (taking two years and five months to get the entire series adaptation out), let’s dive in and get an idea of what Frank Miller originally had in store for RoboCop 2.
We open on a talk show called The Luke Spindle Show where we learn that crime has become rampant throughout Old Detroit, due to the fact that the police strike that loomed over the first film is in full effect. Not only that, but a commercial break reveals a plot element that would ultimately get used in RoboCop 3 where the destitute metropolis is going to be torn down and be rebuilt as Delta City, starting with innocent-looking eviction notices to the citizens living there.
However (just like the third film), a desolate apartment building is getting torn down while a family that received a eviction notice is still inside. A young girl named Christine Stretzletski is saved by her dad, but his head gets viciously hit by the crumbling rubble and dies. She does get out in time, but ends up getting kidnapped by a deranged couple as they proceed to drive off.
Fortunately despite the constant stream of crime pouring in and his police car being in less-than-stellar shape, RoboCop spots them and gives chase. He manages to weave his way around traffic in order to intercept the felons by ramming them off the road.
Afterwards, he grabs the male thug out of the car and throws him to the wall before taking out the female thug in precisely gory fashion where he fires a shot that goes right through the barrel of her gun and even through her body. RoboCop then learns from the still-conscious male thug about the rundown Chrysler Factory over in nearby Hamtramck before tossing the felon into a nearby garbage pile and helps young Christine out of the car.
Over at said facility, an illegal human trafficking ring is underway as the felons operate a black-market adoption business with several kidnapped children being held in cages. Just then, one of the thugs sees an approaching police car as they prepare their weapons in response. Outside, RoboCop preps for battle by replacing his left robotic hand with an attachable chain gun (instead of the machine gun/flamethrower/rocket launcher attachment from the third film).
From there, he makes his way inside and guns down every last thug. All that remains is the operation’s leader who holds a handgun to the imprisoned kids. Fortunately, Issue 1 ends with RoboCop subduing the felon by making a precise shot that permanently relieves the thug of his right hand.
Issue 2 opens on a newscast where a psychiatrist named Dr. Margaret Love is at a public burning for various RoboCop memorabilia as she voices her disliking towards him since she believes that he’s a bad role model for children. She’s then on a talk show where she tells the skimpy hostess named Lilac of her intention to help bring “OCP’s commitment to the social & psychological welfare” to the forefront with better communication since she’s also aware of RoboCop’s impact on the youth.
Meanwhile, a youthful prostitute starts getting hassled by a sleazy man who chases after her with a knife. Fortunately, RoboCop arrives and shoots the perp in the knee while driving by. As he sees the young hooker, he gets quick flashbacks of his wife and son. While the images play in his head, Alex manages to get back to the police station.
By the time he reaches his fellow partner Anne Lewis (who managed to subdue and handcuff a felon), his internal systems run out of power and he collapses to the ground. As an ambulance gets summoned, we learn from a conversation between Lewis and Sgt. Warren Reed that RoboCop has been on duty for over three-straight days. Just then another concept from the third film shows up as a “Rehabilitation Concepts” squad arrives at the station.
Later at OCP, RoboCop is attached to a maintenance table as he gets some repairs while Dr. Love and a fellow businessman named “Mr. Fleck” (who would end up in the third film as Jeff Fleck) oversee the process. Later (and after a change of wardrobe, apparently), Margaret looks over RoboCop while he’s in his recharge station. After most of the team heads out for a coffee break, she has a remaining staff member strap Murphy down to his chair.
From there, Dr. Love reprimands him for one of his recent actions. It turns out that OCP bought a local brewery in order to have it demolished and RoboCop was sent in to clear the workers out. Fortunately, Alex’ human side still prevailed as he ultimately refused to comply with company orders. As punishment for delaying OCP’s demolition timetable, she has the worker shock him before freeing him from his straps.
Later, she talks with her boss as she voices her displeasure over RoboCop’s limited programming, but he states that their prized crime-fighting cyborg is all that they have in maintaining a positive connection with the citizens of Old Detroit. They then meet up with Fleck who lets them know about a project that’s in the works. Using the remains of a deceased street cop named Masterson, Issue 2 ends with a tape being run showing what the vital organs are being used for: a more advanced crime-fighting robot named RoboCop 2.
In a quick montage that’s familiar to anyone who’s seen the second film, Issue 3 begins with a few attempts at showing various versions of RoboCop 2 ending in fatalistic failure. Margaret states that these setbacks are being caused by a few reasons: A. Insufficient conditioning systems, B. None of the previously-used subjects were suitable enough and C. Unlike Murphy who’s regained his human sense of determining right from wrong, their proper subject needs to be “value-neutral”. As such, she tells her superior to give her a day since she’s found the perfect “candidate” and that things are starting to come together.
Out on the streets of Old Detroit, a group of men have broken into a gun store in order to take some firearms, due to most of the police still being on strike. However, they’re not knowledgeable on how to use them, especially since one of them accidentally injures his own hand on a handgun. Anne arrives and easily stops their misguided attempt when one of the Rehabilitators arrives by hitting her with his car, causing her some harm as a result. Afterwards, the deranged official gets out and proceeds to kill the attempted robbers with his gun & knife.
Lewis orders him to surrender, but the brute uses an incendiary grenade to make his escape. She gets mostly covered in the flames as her uniform suffers massive damage Seeing the perp starting to drive off, she fires her gun towards him. However, the flaming residue reaches the bullets within the store as the building ultimately explodes, taking Anne’s police car as well, even though she survives the firey onslaught.
A short time later, the thug (who’s name is Kong) is finally getting chased by RoboCop as he’s ordered by his leader named Seltz (who’s under the guiding command of Dr. Love) to lure Murphy towards the demolition site. Shortly after arriving, RoboCop sees the Rehabilitators box his car in before heading inside to search for the deranged subject. With an innocent family trapped within the building, the Rehabs arrive to take care of the unfortunate folks. From there, RoboCop fires his Auto-9 at them and punches one of the agents with enough force to send him flying back to their cars and smash into one of the windshields.
Kong emerges from his vehicle and mourns over the loss of his comrade named Stillson. He’s then informed by a fellow Rehab of what’s going down before using his abnormal strength to climb the building. After taking care of the Rehabilitators, RoboCop makes his way upstairs to discover Kong mutilating an unfortunate elderly woman. They then proceed to fight each other before Kong tries to use a grenade. Fortunately, Murphy’s precise aim comes into play as he shoots it out of the air. Kong tries to use another one, but Alex fires at it as it blows up and mutilates the fiend’s hand.
Observing the scene from afar, one of the Rehabs fires a rocket launcher which hits RoboCop and destroys his right arm. With the building starting to collapse and despite his weakened state, he rushes over to save an unfortunate man. From there, Issue 3 ends on a random OCP commercial where a man takes his own life due to not using the company to help secure his business account.
Following a two-page segment from Media Break, issue 4 begins with Murphy dreaming of moments of his past life, specifically his romance with his wife Ellen. It’s then revealed that he’s been brought back to OCP, but in need of serious repairs. Just then, she actually shows up (while pregnant) as a a tearful reunion occurs between her and Alex. He learns that their son Jimmy is doing good while she’s stunned to see that he’s still alive. Afterwards, Ellen is escorted out. From there, Margaret tells Murphy that he’s only a machine while as assistant shocks him with a cattle-prod.
Afterwards, they get to work on reprogramming him to their will. After RoboCop is back on his feet and discovers that his signature handgun was taken from him, it turns out that he’s been given one too many directives (just like the second film) programmed into into him. Not only that, Margaret tells him that she’s left her own personal touch in his “discipline systems”, so that his human nervous system will harm him.
Later, RoboCop and a company representative named Mr. Fallow drive out to a group of kids that the news crews will oversee. However, he finds a some children playing next to a running fire hydrant. Just like the second film, he seals the leak with his robotic grip before scolding a cursing kid that proceeds to spray-paint him. RoboCop then enters a toy store where a guy holds a store Santa at gunpoint due to him being sold a defective doll. He easily shoves the bum over in defeat, but gets scolded by the store Santa for wreaking his store since he’s also the manager. Because he used profanity in his outburst, Murphy ends up throwing him through the window. Afterwards, Mr. Fallow calls Margaret and lets her in on what happened.
She then contacts Seltz and informs him that OCP is ready to deploy its newest model. However, RoboCop must be taken out of the picture. With some horrible act needed to blame Murphy, he calls up his sniper named Gillette who’s hiding out and prepare to kill Sgt. Warren Reed. Just then, he holds up when Officer Lewis drives up. She heads inside and finds out that he’s trying to leave town. After Warren explains about the Rehab’s brute named Kong (described as an “Amphetamine Freak”), Anne suggests that they turn to Commissioner Yindel (a nod to a character from “The Dark Knights Returns”, clever) for help. However, he disagrees since he thinks that both of them would get killed if they tried.
Suddenly, a shot fires through the window as Reed is tragically slained via headshot. After taking a shot in the shoulder, Lewis jumps towards the fire escape while firing back in the general opposing direction. After landing on the ground via a garbage pile and despite taking a shot to her heel, Issue 4 ends with her getting in her car and driving off.
Issue 5 opens with Anne trying to contact her partner RoboCop, but Central Dispatch is unable to comply. Just then, Gillette catches up and manages to shoot out one of her tires, causing her to lose control and land on her car’s side. Afterwards, Lewis climbs out of the wreckage and draws her gun (while her police shirt un-bottons itself, apparently) and engages in a shootout with the thug. However, the most damage that both sides receive is a wound to Gillette’s shoulder and a cut to Anne’s face.
They then proceed to engage each other in a knife fight, with Lewis planting the killing stab on the perp. As she takes his gun and ammo, she’s then confronted by a Rehab Helicopter. Anne manages to hop into Gilette’s car as withstand the opposing gunfire and drives off. The enemy helicopter pilot is ordered to pull back since another Rehabilitator named Swenson arrives to give chase. Following a quick and bloody commercial for a Johnny Rehab action figure, Lewis reaches the donut shop and gets inside. Thanks to the building being filled with striking cops, they subdue Swenson before Anne tells them that the Rehabilitators have killed Reed, prompting a group of cops to follow her lead to engage the opposing group.
Following a quick Media Break where RoboCop gets framed for Warren’s murder, Murphy walks past a car-jacker who’s broken into an automobile before its self-defense traps the perp before shocking him to death (reused in the second film as a Magna-Volt commercial in the opening scene). Over at a train station, a male patron who’s waiting for his timely departure is unable to find a spot to smoke a cigarette. Shortly after reaching the boarding platforms, he decides to light one up. Just then, RoboCop shows up and (just like the second film) shoots around him in order to scare him out of his action while saying the exact phrase as well.
Suddenly, a giant mechanization bursts in as Fleck follows suit to announce what this robot is: RoboCop 2. It then proceeds to gun down an elder guard before incinerating an Elvis impersonator. As Murphy observes from afar, he notices that the robotic behemoth plunges its hand into the deceased guard’s body and strokes its blood across its face. Realizing that Kong has been used for the RoboCop 2 process and with civilians still trapped in the ruckus, Issue 5 ends with RoboCop (despite being saddled with loads of needless directives) engaging the Rehabilitators and their star robot.
Issue 6 opens with Murphy taking out a few of the Rehabs in a shootout before engaging Kong-As-RoboCop 2. They proceed to fight each other as Kong uses his robotic enhancements to damage Alex’ helmet before trying to electrocute him. Murphy counters by jamming his Terminal Strip into the fiend’s face before Kong drops a bomb on him.
RoboCop then lures his foe towards a side railing, but gets cornered as Kong uses his flamethrower on him. During the skirmish, Murphy loses his Auto-9 down the chasm and gets stuck on the crumbling railing. Fortunately, he gets his leg free since RoboCop 2 was lured onto the tracks where it proceeds to get run over by a train.
After reaching the station, the passengers pour out while Fleck and company look for their cyborg. During the chaos, Fleck loses the remote control within the crowd while RoboCop 2 reemerges to continue its slaughtering. Fortunately, one of the Rehabs recovers the remote and gets Kong under control. Unbeknownst to them, a battered RoboCop manages to get up and escape.
We then cut to a broadcast of The Luke Spindle Show where he tells his audience that he doesn’t believe that RoboCop has become a cold-hearted killer, believing that OCP is truly behind it all. It’s then revealed to be a segment on Media Break since he was shot by an assassin who snuck a plastic handgun past security and into the studio. Fortunately, he survived. Following two commercials and a report on tactical nuclear weapons detonated in Greenland, we quickly cut back to RoboCop who continues his underground escape.
Over at the hospital, Margaret and her head associate learn that Murphy escaped and that they can’t track him due to the sewer’s metal pipes interfering with the signal. They then head over to the private operation room where Kong is getting an updated program while having his memories and personality reformatted. However, Issue 6 ends with them noticing RoboCop 2 twitching its hand as Margaret wonders how that’s possible and orders a technician to check it out.
Issue 7 opens with the scans coming out clean as Dr. Love gives the order to commence with the uploading sequence. Just as she’s about to insert a disc into a CD-Rom drive, the building gets rocked by a sudden attack. It turns out that RoboCop punched his way into the storage basement and took out an OCP security guard before taking his machine gun. After taking out a few guards along the way and acquiring another machine gun as well, he makes his way up to the operating room and orders everyone but Margaret out.
Despite his weariness, Murphy tells her to delete the unnecessary program inside him. After overseeing her complete the process, he passes out. Seeing her opportunity, Margaret takes one of the machine guns and tries to kill Alex. Fortunately, he was wise since he took out the bullets before entering as he gets up and demonstrates just “how human” he really is. He does so by inserting his Terminal Strip and shows off the vital organs that are still a part of him. After coming across the specs for Kong and how he was used in the RoboCop 2 process, Murphy then rips the console apart with his strip and destroys it.
After picking her disc up, Margaret berates him since he’s destroying the only copy that’s available. However, Alex smacks her into the console which explodes and badly singes her. RoboCop then proceeds to exit and uses the other machine gun to trap her inside the room before taking a dead guard’s handgun and leaves. With time running out, she hooks up RoboCop 2, inserts the disc into the still-functioning computer and works like mad. A short time later, the room explodes as Margaret’s burned and deceased corpse flies out.
Afterwards, RoboCop 2 emerges from the flaming room as it’s revealed that Margaret has successfully uploaded her consciousness into the robotic body, supplanting Kong in the process. She then uses her automated arm-mounted machine gun and shoots Murphy out of the hospital. After landing on the streets, he’s found by the Rehabs as they open fire on him. Unfortunately for them, RoboCop takes them out with his handgun before getting into one of their cars in order to drive off.
However, Margaret isn’t willing to let him escape as she uses her robotic arm to latch onto the vehicle and tries to attack. Fortunately, Alex manages to shoot the passenger door off and manages to lose her. Even when Seltz orders another group of Rehabs to stop him at the Metro North police station, Murphy manages to elude them with gunfire and drives off. As such, Issue 7 ends with Seltz and company noticing something from afar.
Issue 8 begins with Lewis arriving with a small group of cops at the Metro North Police Station’s locker room. After discovering that one of the lockers has a bloodied smear, they open it up and are horrified to discover a fellow officer named Estavez who’s been killed and stuffed in there. Not only that, but a grenade was planted on him as they manage to take cover. However, Mendelsohn didn’t notice in time as he gets mutilated in the explosion.
Afterwards, they hear someone over a loud speaker taunting them with mentions of the Battle of Thermopylae (an eventual nod to “300”) and the “Night of the Long Knives” (a Nazi purge in 1934 that allowed Hitler to assume control of Germany via political executions). During this, Lewis loses even more officers via a barrage of gunfire and a booby-trapped phone. Becoming incredibly freaked out, a young cop named Whitakker ends up running outside. The Rehabs see this and decided to toy with him as they proceed to wound him with crossbows.
Just when things look really dire, RoboCop returns and rams into the opposing cars. With him drawing the enemy fire, Anne and company are able to reach Whitakker in order to treat his serious leg wound. With their partnership reunited, Robocop and Lewis proceed to gun down several Rehabs. One of the wounded agents accidentally drives into an ED-209 and gets shot up by it.
With the remaining agent named Seltz escaping into the construction site, our remaining heroes are suddenly approached by incoming enemy gunfire. It turns out that a Rehabilitators helicopter is coming in and it’s brought RoboCop 2 as well. Alex proceeds to take aim and shoots the rear propeller as the chopper crashes into the building.
Seltz manages to avoid the wreckage and hops into a construction elevator with RoboCop managing to hitch a ride by holding onto a rear cable. While RoboCop 2 emerges from the downed copter, Seltz tries to fire back at Murphy. However, he punches through the floor and fiercely grabs his leg. As Margaret catches up, she prepares to launch a projectile from her arm. Thanks to his previous battle, RoboCop manages to dodge in time as Issue 8 ends with her unintentionally blowing up Seltz with a rocket projectile.
Issue 9 opens with RoboCop 2 using its retractable arm to save itself from falling to its death before activating its magnetized limbs to climb up after Murphy. As Margaret prepares to launch another bomb, RoboCop manages to use his precise aiming to shoot at the prepped explosive and cause her right arm to blow up. However, she still manages to climb up and attack with its flamethrower.
Fortunately, Murphy’s precise aiming system discovers a hidden fuel line and allows him to shoot at it. As the liquid squirts out, it reaches her exposed and sparking wires as it causes a huge explosion. Despite its weakened state, Margaret still manages to shock RoboCop through the metal beam he’s standing on. Although Alex managed to prevent himself from falling, she still manages to use her retractable arm to knock the handgun out of his hand.
They then proceed to tussle for a bit before Murphy shoves RoboCop 2 and himself down towards the ground. Just as they land, Anne is acquiring a rocket launcher before heading back over. Back at impact central, RoboCop is slowly rising to his feet. However, RoboCop 2 (despite being a mangled mess) manages to get up and begins to charge at him. Just then, Murphy is told to duck as he proceeds to comply. It turns out that Lewis has arrived as she delivers the killshot with her rocket launcher and sends Margaret to a fatalistic end.
Just as they meet up, RoboCop thanks Lewis by picking her up and kiss her. Afterwards, he starts to head out. When Anne asks where he’s heading towards, Murphy exclaims that’ll be his decision before taking his leave. Sometime later, Luke Spindle is back on the set of his talk show (despite still being in recovery) as he explains that the police strike has ended and that the Rehabs are in trouble. He also exclaims that he doesn’t believe that RoboCop is dead despite the reports. Over in a desolate part of Old Detroit, it turns out that Alex has his own recharge station inside of the buildings. After a receiver picks up the numerous crimes, the series ends with RoboCop getting up, hopping into his police car and driving off to fulfill his duty.
During the two-year, five-month period that Frank Miller’s original RoboCop 2 script was getting adapted into comic book form, Avatar Press managed to release a pair of one-shot stories during its scattershot releases. First up, we have “RoboCop: Killing Machine”. Released in August 2004, this tale was written by Steven Grant and drawn by Anderson Ricardo as it ended up selling 7,323 copies during it’s initial release. As such, let’s dive in and see how this stand-alone tale holds up.
We open with RoboCop lifting a car out of a busy intersection as he and Lewis are taking care of a traffic jam. Afterwards, Murphy heads over to an electric box and inserts his Terminal Strip to diagnose the cause, discovering that the traffic system was compromised by an external source. As such, he proceeds to fix it. Over at a mansion, a hacker named “Georgie” is mad that his mischief was easily terminated. As his sibling named Elizabeth watches him from afar, he decides to get back at RoboCop by remotely hacking into him.
Fortunately, Murphy’s personal firewall stops the punk’s attempt before banning him with ease. No matter how hard he tries, Georgie’s attempts to compromise our hero is constantly shot down. Just then, he comes across a suspended machine listed under “Project: Urban Pacifier” and decides to hack that. It turns out that Georgie has taken control of a spider-like armament called a City-Buster. As such, he commands it to rise up out of the city depths to begin his hunt.
Just as RoboCop and Anne are about to call it a well-fought day, they’re suddenly attacked by the City-Buster. Murphy and Georgie proceed to tussle for a while before Alex starts to climb up a building. Our antagonistic hacker sends the City-Buster after him before locking a powerful projectile at our hero. Fortunately, RoboCop survives the blast as he dives down towards the opposing machine by and plunges his Terminal Strip through the opposing machine, thus destroying it in the process.
Back at the mansion, Elizabeth lets her sibling know that she’s leaving with Shelly to go shop for food. However, Georgie doesn’t respond as his body limply falls over. As such, the tale ends with the revelation that his consciousness is trapped in a microchip that a homeless woman now uses as an earring and he has no way to log off.
Closing out Avatar’s run with the comic license, we have another one-shot that writer Steven Grant also worked on: “RoboCop: Wild Child”. Published in February 2005, this tale was drawn by Carlos Ferreira and ended up selling 5,667 copies upon its release. As such, let’s head inside and see how this era comes to an end.
We open on a Tuesday with a group of youthful joyriders storming into Old Detroit. RoboCop is chasing after them, but is forced into evasive maneuvers when one of the young ladies named Heaven starts throwing grenades (which she stole from a munitions dump) at him. As they cross the bridge, the woman (who hints at Old Detroit being “her” town) manages to blow up a key piece of the structure, causing Murphy to escape from his vehicle in order to avoid plunging into the water. Long after the mischief makers have escaped, Lewis arrives as they head back to base. Later, Alex connects a device to himself so that Anne can look at what her partner saw. After seeing what the young group looks like, she then groans since she recognizes one of them.
Meanwhile, the young gang breaks into a construction yard in order to hide out. From there, we learn a bit about their lady leader. Heaven tells her gangmates that she used to play in dangerous places around here with her sister and she wasn’t seen too highly by her mom. After she and her fellow members shoot at the approaching guard dogs, they begin to plan on taking care of RoboCop. We then cut to two days later as Heaven and company take over a restaurant called Breakfast Fiesta. She then orders the waitress to get some pancakes for her and her cohorts while allowing the hostages to call the police. Later, RoboCop arrives as the captives are getting released. He then confronts the gang, but they unleash their surprise: a modified construction bulldozer with speed enhancements. Fortunately, Murphy’s cyborg strength allows him to stop the rampaging machine and shake the driver out. However, Heaven holds a remaining hostage at gunpoint as she tells Alex to surrender or else. As such, it allows her gang members to come in with a cement truck and trap him in cement. Anne then arrives to stop her as it’s revealed that not only are they sisters, but that Heaven’s actual first name is Lucy.
Lewis proceeds to take out the cement truck operator with a well-placed shot before beating the snot out of her delinquent sister, disarming her in the process. After RoboCop frees his feet from the cement, Anne tells Lucy to take her friends and leave Old Detroit forever. Afterwards, the issue ends with RoboCop and Lewis discussing her family issues as they take care of a remaining gang member who tried to attack them with a grenade.
During this time, there were also plans for other series from the publisher: “Simple Machines” and “War Party”. I couldn’t find any information on the former, other than it was planned for 2004 but never came to be. As far as the latter goes, all I could find was a description on Avatar’s website. According to its 2005 solicitation pages, it would have been a three-issue tale set in the same continuity as Frank Miller’s original vision of RoboCop 2. Murphy would have fought a band of violent revolutionaries who’re looking to turn Old Detroit into an independent nation. Alex would have also dealt with a munitions maker that would have introduced new weapons in the conflict. Also, the Bastion Corporation would have been at the antagonistic center of the chaos. For whatever reason, this series also never came to be.
As far as my thoughts on how Avatar Press handled its RoboCop comics license, I’ll naturally start with their biggest project that encompassed the entirety of their run: Frank Miller’s RoboCop. I found the tale to be slow out of the gate, especially since the first issue has Murphy taking out a pair of separate crimes against children moments that don’t really play into anything within the grand scheme of the story. Yes, Luke Spindle is established in there as well, but he doesn’t effect the tale too much. With Dr. Margaret Love, she essentially becomes Dr. Juliette Faxx as the ruthless high-end female associate of OCP for the film and seeing how her character ends up as RoboCop 2, this is also where the drug dealer Cain gets spawned from. It’s also amazing that the Rehabs originally had a bigger role here before being relegated for RoboCop 3 and that it was one of their men that originally became RoboCop 2. In fact, the original design does make whoever’s programmed into it feel like a monstrous and muscular titan of destruction with additional weapons to boot. It even lets others clearly know who’s piloting it with its distinct multi-screen facial display unlike the film version where it was a primitive CGI face on a retractable screen and only has a slab to represent its face. There’s also some differences when it comes to weaponry. The original version came with a retractable arm (the right one, at least), retractable claws, gattling gun, a shocking touch and a flamethrower while the movie version had floodlights, a plasma torch, a chain gun, a tractable left arm that serves as a battering ram and a shoulder assault cannon. Finally, there’s a mention near the end of the tale of a certain Japanese corporation seeking a bid on the Detroit Police Department. Like the Rehabs, that would only come to pass in the third movie since the Kanemitsu Corporation would acquire OCP in that flick. Other than that, the present story kicks into gear as it progresses and actually becomes a fun romp as it picks up steam. However, what somewhat hampers it is the artwork. When Juan Jose Ryp’s unique style works, it presents the story in a coherent light. However, his overly-detailed touch can result in imagery that can range from messy to cluttered. The latter definitely kicks in when Murphy fights RoboCop 2 during the final battle at the construction sight. Combining the darkness with the battle damage, I couldn’t make it out when it was still. In the end, the nine-issue tale was nice it terms of seeing what Frank Miller originally wanted to do with the first sequel. In the end, the story is OK while the action is decently handled and the main characters are still worth following. As far as the two one-shots go, they can serve as mini-adventures that takes place at any point before or after RoboCop 2. Killing Machine serves as a constant reminder that for all of OCP’s intimidating control over Old Detroit, RoboCop seems to be their only successful machine. Even then, he’s always been a human being kept alive by his robotic enhancements. Whether its ED-209 (as Nikko proved in RoboCop 3) or a seemingly defunct City-Buster, the company is more interested in making money and running the city themselves than spending some of their cash on some high-end software protection for their products. There’s hardly any development for Georgie other than the fact that he’s a hacker who inherited a nice mansion. His ultimate punishment does come off as a bit harsh, mainly because we don’t know why he’s an ill-tempered, foul-mouthed youth who only sees hacking various things as his only reason for living. Despite that, Anderson Ricardo’s artwork is a breath of fresh air after the overly-detailed and chaotic style of Juan Jose Ryp. His style is much more pleasant on the eyes, allowing the colors to shine and letting the action flow much better. With Wild Child, it’s another bit of fresh air for a different reason. For the first time since Issue #17 of Marvel Comics’ run, another piece of Anne’s side of the universe gets revealed. While it isn’t further development for her own characterization, it is towards her own family. While she grew up and became a cop with her strong moral values and kind-heartedness, her younger sister Lucy personally chose to stop developing as a mature woman and formed her own street gang in order to have their own reckless fun at the cost of good will. While not having too much in terms of character development, Heaven gets more backstory than Georgie ever did in the previous issue. Like the failed hacker, she does try to get revenge on RoboCop for interfering with her brand of dangerous entertainment. By the end, I love how it mixes things up and Anne is allowed to step in and save the day, kicking the utter crap out of her delinquent sibling in crowd-cheering fashion. Out of the two one-shots, I prefer Wild Child over Killing Machine, but I definitely recommend you read both after the nine-issue yarn, of course.
As Eyzmaster brings up in his review of the adaptation of Frank Miller’s original RoboCop 2 script, it shares a common trait with several of Avatar Press’ comics. Mainly, it can be a tad exploitative. Lewis suffers the most here when she’s in battle against the Rehabs, since her uniform gets blown to shreds fairly easily and we’re forced to see her undergarments (a sports bra and a thong) beneath her tattered outfit. A huge example of this (to me, at least) is when Sgt. Reed just got assassinated and she gets chased by the assassin named Gillette. After he makes her crash her police car, the top part of her uniform seems to unbutton itself as she’s getting out to defend herself. From there, the reader is forced to see her sports bra for the rest of the series. During Issue #8, her pants gets shredded by enemy gunfire almost to the point where she’s only a few feet away from being forced to fight in her underwear. Even in Wild Child, Heaven goes around for the entirety of the issue with her pants riding low so that the thong she’s wearing is almost entirely shown to the world. While neither Lewis sister is ever overly-sexualized for the sake of it (thankfully), this is a problem that permeates throughout the company’s library of comics. Either way, Avatar’s run is still worth reading despite the minor issues.
Afterwards, the comic license would go into temporary hibernation until 2009 when it was announced that the Mt. Laurel, New Jersey-based company known as Dynamite Entertainment (known for working on various licensed properties like Zorro, Army of Darkness, The Shadow and Red Sonja) had acquired it. For this take on the famed sci-fi series, they decided to take a different route in their execution.
Originally published from January-March 2010 for the first three issues, followed by May for #4 and then July & August for the last two issues, this series was written by Rob Williams. Fabiano Neves serves as our main artist for the four issues while Unai De Zarate carries that torch for the last two issues. Diogo Nascimonto would serve as series colorist for the first two issues, Giovanna Guimarães takes over those duties for issues 3 & 4, while Oscar Manuel Martin carries that torch for 5 & 6. As mentioned in each issue, this series takes place after the first film and essentially ignores the theatrical sequels. So how does our cyborg hero fare down this alternate timeline? Let’s find out with a storm that brews up a “Revolution”.
We open on Media Break where newscasters Casey Wong and Jess Perkins cover various stories on the world before coming a across a story on OCP’s successful multi-dollar military contract. We also learn that the company has a new Chief Executive in Edwina Odenkirk who says that this deal will greatly help the organization. Sometime afterwards, she gives a glass of water to an elderly man who’s connected to various medical tubes and believes that he’s talking to someone named Dick.
Out on the streets of Old Detroit, RoboCop and Anne are chasing after a group of Neo-Nazis who’ve stolen an armored car from the police and even have a few officers as their hostages. Murphy manages to take one of the thugs out with a headshot before he tells Lewis to get him close enough for him to leap onto the fleeing vehicle. He manages to leap over in time for both parties to swerve around a mother and her two sons who were crossing the street. After taking out another thug, RoboCop tells Anne to cut them off when they’re suddenly approached by a group of new ED-209s who open fire on the vehicle and slaughters everyone inside.
Later at the Metro West precinct, Lewis informs Sgt. Warren Reed about the incident. Suddenly, both of them and RoboCop are approached by Edwina and her squad as they scold the officers for doing a poor job (at least in her eyes) of keeping the streets safe. Because she’s the new Chief Executive (and because OCP has privatized the police department), she tells everyone expect RoboCop that they’ve been fired. Not only that, but they’ve been replaced with the redesigned and “glitch-free: ED-209b’s.
Later, Media Break covers this event as Edwina informs the public that this meant to snuff out crime and make the streets safe. The newscast then mentions about a former wrestler and Detroit Councilman named Mason “Manslaughter” Vogler who voices his disapproval towards the city’s leaders handling on how they ran the local economy and says that if basic services aren’t allowed to be offered to the public, then he’ll threaten “to take them by force”. Back at the police station, Edwina tells RoboCop that he’s not allowed to walk-out with the rest of his officers since he’s mostly OCP property. As such, he’s forced to work alongside the ED-209b’s or else he’ll become nothing but scrap. Afterwards, a technician named Wagner offers to help Murphy access his old memories. RoboCop complies as he takes his place in his recharge station before a wave of past memories flood his mind.
Meanwhile, Mason unleashes his wrath as he fires a bazooka towards a supermarket in order for his people to get some nourishment. From there, Issue 1 ends back at OCP as the elderly man sees smoke rising up from the faraway incident as he claims to recall a certain memory.
Issue 2 opens on Media Break reporting on the new ED-209b becoming a hit with the school kids before another one saves a man from a burning building. Back in reality, several armed delivery convoys are transporting food when they’re taken aback by a hidden trap hole on the road.
It turns out that it was hidden ambush by Mason and his rebels has they look to rob the transport for the valuable nourishment. However, they’re caught off-guard when they discover an ED-209b aboard as it proceeds to gun them down. It then targets a female rebeller before RoboCop had to step in and order it to stop since she surrendered. As such, it complies while Mason manages to escape while the news broadcast believes that he was killed. During a press conference with OCP, Edwina states that they’re searching the bloodied corpse to be sure as she reinforces that this act displays her company’s “zero tolerance” towards Old Detroit’s lawlessness.
Over at a bar, Reed, Lewis and several of the laid-off cops watch the broadcast with disdain. Just then, RoboCop arrives and gets berated by his former colleagues for siding with OCP (albeit against his own will). Fortunately, Warren praises Murphy for helping the streets remain safe. RoboCop tries to talk to Anne, but she’s unwilling to as he takes his leave. As he gets in his car, he’s approached by a guy named Jerome H. Moss. He tells Alex that he’s a reporter for The Old Detroit Beacon, the only newspaper service in town that’s not owned by OCP. Moss then tries to explain the convenience of OCP creating an army of ED-209s under they’re control, yet Murphy is the only RoboCop the company made and yet they keep him around while the rest of the police department was laid off. Unfortunately, Alex ends up driving away.