Review: RoboCop – Last Stand #2

“Robocop: The Last Stand” is an adaptation of Frank Miller's original 'Robocop 3' script, coincidentally released within only a few weeks of Dark Horse's 'The Star Wars', an adaptation of George Lucas's rough draft for 'A New Hope'. 'The Star Wars' had its flaws, some of which are repeated here, with large casts talking about things we don't have any real context for yet and action scenes that would have worked better on film. Despite this, the book had artistry and care, with beautifully rendered artwork and a sense of the expectations that fans would have for it, signatures of the Dark Horse line of licensed comics. 'Robocop: The Last Stand' on the other hand feels quickly written and drawn because of an impending 'Robocop' remake, meaning a limited window to sell some cash grab impulse buy comics. I don't even think it's a particularly cynical thing to say, it announces itself on page one of Issue Two, which begins mid-conversation exactly at the point Issue One abruptly and bizarrely ended, also mid-conversation. This seems to confirm the questionable status of the word 'adaptation' being applied to the book, since stepping back it appears to just be scenes from Miller's screenplay crammed into a rigid six panel structure with an obligatory splash or 'lookit Robocop' page sprinkled in to distract from the pattern. Efficiency seems to be the goal, a sort of 'let's-get-this-over-with' attitude that feels a little insulting. The book even ends on a weird mid-scene cut, that for the life of me I can't decode the meaning of. What is going on in this final panel? Why is that the note the book ends on?

Issue Two introduces the primary antagonist of the book, Miss Faxx, who you will probably know better as 'ma'am' or 'that bitch' as she is more often referred to in the comic; her name is only dropped in passing sans first name. Outside of the comic her full name is Juliette Faxx, the villain from 'Robocop 2', one of Miller's less-than-subtle satires of the burgeoning 90s trends of psychopharmacology and politic-correctness. She's barely introduced, but that's fine because who can forget Juliette Faxx, one of cinema's most memorable villains? Played by actress...uhhh...who tried to....shit...let me check Wikipedia. Apparently Faxx was released from jail by Omnicorp but unless you watched 'Robocop 2' yesterday you won't remember why she was there in the first place.

Robocop_02_preview_Page_1Her character isn't alone in neglect, the leader of the resistance who Robocop attempts to rescue from an Omnicorp brainwashing facility has gone two issues without being given a name, presumably Bertha from the film, but that's just a wild guess. Robocop ally Marie Lacasse got the luxury of a traditional introduction in Issue One but during the pivotal scene when she reveals her motivations for helping Ole' Chromedome I couldn't tell if she was supposed to be sympathetic or the Overly Attached Girlfriend meme. Plugging in dialogue like hers without the benefit of an actress' performance or, in a   comic book's case, the pacing and art to communicate emotions, it just comes off as hysterical.

The art is brutally ugly in places, stiff and stagnantly posed during action sequences and cartoonishly manic during casual dialogue. To be somewhat fair to the artist, quite a bit of information is crammed into the six panel grids that make up nearly every page, but for the most part it just feels like rushed hired-gun artwork.

I may be being overly critical about this book, I don't regularly read licensed comics outside of Dark Horse, generally because I expect most of them to read very much like 'Robocop: The Last Stand'. I also may be a bit harsh because I can't help but mentally compare this book to 'Frank Miller's Robocop', an Avatar Press comic which I actually still have on my book shelf, which did very much the same adapted script thing only for 'Robocop 2'. The book was trashy, crass, exploitative, and a relic of 90's storytelling. It was also very much a Robocop book. It also had borderline incomprehensible storytelling but actually featured Frank Miller's participation from a production standpoint and had grotesque hyper-detailed artwork by gorewizard Juan Jose Ryp of 'Black Summer' fame. It was the comic Robocop deserved, had moments I still remember, and felt like it was written because someone really wanted to write it. To read 'The Last Stand' (wait, why does that name sound familiar...) with this similar project as a mental comparison it simply feels like a product of inattentive and unconcerned publishing. After reading IDW's 'Mars Attacks Judge Dredd' I really thought the publisher behind the wonderful 'Bravest Warriors' and 'Adventure Time' series were going to have the superior licensed comic this week. I'm afraid I was wrong.

Score: 1/5

Story: Frank Miller Writer: Steven Grant Artist: Korkut Oztekin Publisher: Boom Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 9/11/13