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Last updateThu, 20 Apr 2017 10am

Comics

RoboCop Has Always Kept Comic Book Streets Safe

While most superheroes were born in comic books, some iconic characters originated elsewhere. This has happened with Marvel characters such as X-23 (a female clone of Wolverine) in “X-Men: Evolution” and Harley Quinn (the Joker’s love and right-hand girl) in “Batman: The Animated Series.”

RoboCop, one of the coolest heroes, didn’t start in comics but rather a live-action movie. Soon, the adventures of RoboCop couldn’t be contained solely on the silver screen and over the years has found homes at different publishers.

For those unfamiliar with the cyborg policeman, RoboCop was Alex Murphy (played by Peter Weller in the first two movies), a Detroit cop who was killed while on duty and then resurrected as RoboCop by the Omni Consumer Products (OCP) Corporation. Most of the films tend to deal with Murphy/RoboCop as he comes to grasp with his robotic self while keeping citizens safe.

The first RoboCop comic began at Marvel in 1990 (ending in 1992 after 23 issues) and was written by Alan Grant and illustrated by Lee Sullivan. In addition to new, original stories, Marvel also offered an adaption of RoboCop 2 for comic book readers (the comic book series was meant to take place between RoboCop 2 and 3).

In an interview with robocoparchive.com, Sullivan talked about his experience as artist for the RoboCop comics. Sullivan said one of the best things about working on the series was “working for Marvel US for the first time; I felt that I was a real artist at last!” However, he mentioned some of the less thrilling aspects including “the direction of the book; unfortunately Greg Wright was also working on a title called Deathlok at the time, and as this was also a part man/part machine character, I think the gritty cyborg story direction was firmly kept for the Marvel version, and poor Alan Grant…was left with very compromised property to work on.”

Following Marvel, this cyborg went to Dark Horse Comics where he would remain from 1992-94. His first story here was a crossover with another sci-fi icon, the Terminator in “RoboCop vs. the Terminator” by Frank Miller (writer) and Walter Simonson (artist). Most of his stories were presented as parts in “Dark Horse Presents” in addition to an adaptation of RoboCop 3. RoboCop would remain offline until 2003 when he would confront grittier storytelling from the mind of Miller by moving to Avatar Press.

Miller’s story followed the events of the first film as Murphy’s humanity slowly returned and Omni discarded him, deciding to create a new model. Now Murphy and his partner Anne Lewis must contend with this new creation while still following orders to protect citizens.

In a press release on avatarpress.com, Avatar Press editor-in-chief, William Christensen, discussed what it meant to have an original RoboCop story by Miller at Avatar. “This is the Robocop story Frank Miller always intended, composed straight from his original writings and scripts. The vast majority of this material never made it onto the screen, but we’re unleashing it in its full glory now. To think that there is this Miller story from just a few years after Dark Knight that has gone largely untold is amazing,” he said.

According to the site, the stories by Miller were actually elements from his RoboCop screenplays that got discarded.

Today, RoboCop is preventing and/or fighting crime at Dynamite Entertainment (home of other franchises such as “Game of Thrones,” “Zorro,” and Army of Darkness).

The first Dynamite RoboCop comic was the four-issue storyline titled “Revolution.” Written by Rob Williams and drawn by Fabio Neves, it followed RoboCop continuing to deal with the chaos of Old Detroit while uncovering a big corporate scheme.

The series kept the same attitude and element from the original film by presenting talking heads discussing the latest in business news as well as satirizing the world itself.

Williams talked to dynamite.net about working on the series and he described how he approached this new series with so many other RoboCop stories (comics, DVDs) out in the world. He said, “…I deliberately steered clear of the old comics, cartoons, TV show. I didn’t even watch RoboCop 2. I’m sure that will aggrieve some die-hards but I wanted to come at this with an outsider’s perspective. I figure, go to the heart of what made RoboCop work, and that’s the origin story and the crazy Dutch extreme aesthetic of that first movie.”

After the completion of “Revolution,” Williams began his second RoboCop story with artist P.J. Holden by restaging one of the coolest crossovers ever with “Terminator/RoboCop: Kill Human.” The story dealt with RoboCop time-traveling into the past to fight the deadly Skynet and its Terminator drones with the assistance of resistance fighters John and Sarah Connor.

Williams’s latest RoboCop tale is a road trip (literally) with “RoboCop: Road Trip.” According to dynamite.net, the series picks up from the last RoboCop series as “…OCP has taken over Old Detroit from the authorities in a political coup. It’s up to Robocop and what’s left of the Old Detroit Police Department to try and make it out of the state in order to get help from the US military.”

The site also goes on to say that RoboCop faces a new threat as well as a struggle with his mind.

As with any machine over the years, RoboCop has had upgrades to keep him going and fighting crime from his first adventures at Marvel to his latest endeavors over at Dynamite. Sure, RoboCop is more than 20-years-old now, but as long as he continues to function and keep streets safe, I see no glitch in his software.

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