Writer Steven Grant (2 Guns, The Punisher) adapts Frank Miller’s unused script for Robocop 3 in the first of this 8 issue mini-series entitled Robocop: Last Stand, from Boom! Studios. A vicious publicity campaign waged against Robocop by the evil corporation, and his creators, Omni Consumer Products (OCP), sees him being driven into hiding. As OCP attempt to clear out the ghetto district Cadillac Heights to build their own controlled buildings, Liberty Towers, Robocop sides with the squatters and begins his campaign to destroy OCP once and for all.
This first issue reads in places like Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns – the opening panels showing newsreaders setting the scene feels like any number of panels from TDKR while the roving gangs of gun-toting weirdos sound a lot like the Mutant Gang – “Beat feet. Striptime. Splatter-face. Sunday special”. Even one of the OCP officers looks like Ellen Yindel! Which isn’t to say it’s as good as TDKR – not even close – but it has the facsimile style of an author who’s produced better work elsewhere and didn’t feel he needed to create anything new for this project.
The biggest problem with Last Stand is the weak plot. Bad guys – big business no less! – attacking penniless innocents for profit is an easy and unoriginal way to write villains in this day and age, while the righteous but dull Robocop clearly has no problems in dealing with them based on the action in this first issue. It’s a straightforward story that doesn’t look like it has many difficult obstacles for our hero to overcome and as such isn’t particularly involving for the reader.
Meanwhile, the characters are barely two-dimensional. The OCP police are comically corrupt, charging around the city sticking blades into hooker’s eyeballs, dragging them into their tank-like cars for torture, while their bosses look upon human lives as possessing the same value as cockroaches, demanding demolition contractors ignore tenants and destroy the buildings in their way. I’ve seen pantos with more subtlety! The Goddamn Robocop meanwhile remains personality-free. He’s Judge Dredd with shiny armour basically; there isn’t much more to him.
Though the plot and characters are lacking, the benefits of adapting Miller’s script in comics is not worrying about the budget. Artist Korkut Oztekin can do justice to Miller’s over the top action as Robocop takes on a squad of OCP cops and an ED-209 in a great sequence (none of that awkward, but hilarious, 80s animation!). Oztekin’s thick, murky artwork perfectly suits the rundown dystopia that Robocop is set and I loved seeing the classic Robocop design being used once more (that shiny new design just looks terrible). The art and the action are really only the best this comic has to offer.
There might be some fans out there who’ve been waiting years to see what Miller’s uncompromised script for Robocop 3 would be like – and this comic is for them – but otherwise Robocop: Last Stand reminds us why some scripts never get used: because they were never very good.
Robocop: Last Stand #1 by Frank Miller, Steven Grant and Korkut Oztekin is out now
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