The 80’s. Some of you may not remember it, some of you may not have been born yet, but without a doubt one of the best cult films from that era was Robocop. Since that time there have been sequels, TV shows, and of course, like anything that gets licensed, comic book adaptations! Over the years there have been many iterations of the comic, released by many companies ranging from Marvel to Dark Horse and most notably Avatar Press, where Frank Miller with the help of Steven Grant wrote a comic based on Miller’s “lost” Robocop 2 script for the movie. Years later, BOOM! Got the rights to Robocop, and once again we have a new comic based on another one of Miller’s “lost” scripts for Robocop 3, It’s called Robocop: Last Stand.
Once again, Miller's friend Steven Grant is the writer behind this comic, and really, after all these years as a rabid fan of the original movie, I fail to see Miller’s ideas shine in any way in this comic or its predecessor. The writing in this comic is fairly generic and the pacing is quite unrelenting in its sporadic coverage of the story. In this issue alone we barely get any action involving Robocop at all, unlike the first two issues, which had some promising aspects for the character of how Robocop was in disrepair and OCP refused to keep him up to date. He has been framed as a vigilante, and while that’s not far from the truth, Murphy/Robocop is still fighting the evil corporations intent on destroying and disenfranchising the poor in order to build a mega city.
Grant knows what he’s doing, but it all feels like second hand shadow writing. He’s very obviously taking Miller’s old and tired ideas of Robocop and translating them as best he can, and they just don’t relate in this era anymore. The worst part about this comic is the stupid Japanese android robot. It was the worst thing in Robocop 3, and it’s equally as bad in this comic. The reason it never worked as a villain is because, unlike Murphy/Robocop, there’s just no humanity to the character. It’s a programmed killer android, about as cliché of a character as you can get, not to mention the stereotype of the Japanese robot having to be a samurai. The dialogue feels sterile and deadpan. Nothing remotely interesting is written between characters or even from Murphy/Robocop himself.
The art in the comic is nothing interesting to look at. It does reflect the bleak and stark nature of old Detroit and the dystopian nature of corporatism in the way it is colored. The worst problem with the art is during action scenes or panels with a lot going on in them. The artist draws his lines so thick and sloppy it’s hard to make sense of or see everything that’s going on clearly. It’s a massive hindrance to an already failing narrative. Where the art really shines usually is in a full-page splash or anything with an expansive scene involved.
Like I said, I’m a massive fan of the original 80’s movie, so I’m a mark for anything that’s Robocop related. That being said, this comic and the forthcoming remake is like beating a dead horse to me now. No one has brought anything gritty or inventive to the character in decades, and he’s only been watered down over time.