Robocop: Last Stand #1 of 8

Robocop: Last Stand #1

Frank Miller's Robocop; Avatar Press; issues 1-9 (of 9); 2003-06; $3.50 to $3.99, 36 pgs ea.; collection (2007), $29.99.

Robocop: Last Stand is, conceptually, a tough sell. It’s a comic book adaptation of a movie no one liked (Robocop 3) when it came out twenty years before the first issue of Last Stand dropped. It’s ostensibly based on Frank Miller’s original screenplay, but when a different publisher did a “based on Frank Miller’s original screenplay” adaptation of Robocop 2 (just called Frank Miller’s Robocop), it turned out Miller’s Robocop 2 script included a lot of his Robocop 3 too. That much-hyped adaptation, Frank Miller’s Robocop, wasn’t just a bad comic, it was a notoriously late one. It’s also not like there had been any particularly good Robocop comics over the years. But the license kept bopping around as one publisher after another tried to hit Robo-gold.

So it’s interesting Last Stand is so… well… good.

The comic is a perfect storm of creative impulse—Steven Grant’s adaptation of the film (which he’d already adapted for Dark Horse back in 1993) is one event after another, with Korkut Öztekin’s punky cartooning tying them together. This first issue has plenty of action violence, but never gets particularly gory. Or, more accurately, Öztekin doesn’t focus on the gore. He emphasizes the action, focuses on the characters.

The issue opens with the issue’s only direct tie-in to the Frank Miller’s Robocop series, which Boom! (Last Stand publisher) reprinted when they picked up the Robo-license. It’s a TV ad showing the future dystopia, which the movies did a lot better. The TV segment also reveals some of the ground situation—Robocop has gone rogue. The newscasters, again played by Leeza Gibbons (who hadn’t returned for the actual Robocop 3) and Mario Machado don’t buy it. The evil company, OCP, has fired all the cops. They’ve also renamed their urban housing project for some nonsensical reason. Maybe something with the license?

Seriously, if it weren’t for Öztekin, the most interesting thing about Last Stand would definitely be the behind-the-scenes editorial mandates.

There’s an action intro to Robocop, saving a streetwalker from the OCP cops, then the action cuts to a new character, Marie. She’s trying to find Robocop. Only Grant doesn’t establish her name so her identity is unclear; she could even be Nancy Allen. Only she’s not because there’s a flashback to Nancy Allen dying and making Robocop promise to avenge her, which he’s apparently doing now as he takes on the OCP cops.

Meanwhile, OCP is trying to kick people out of their homes in Old Detroit and they’ve only got five days to do it, then OCP and their Japanese financing partners will default. There’s a big expository altercation involving a company suit, Bertha (who everyone always assumed was a Frank Miller nod to Martha Washington, but who knows), and then Robocop. Öztekin gets to do a big action scene involving an ED-209 robot, then the issue ends awkwardly with Marie—introducing herself finally—tracking down Robocop.

The awkward finish, which leaves the scene hanging mid-conversation, is just the sort of awkward Last Stand needs. Grant and Öztekin can only do so much, with a Robocop 3 adaptation, with a Robocop comic, and the truncated finish seems to acknowledge it. Grant’s not willing to make Robocop a more traditional protagonist, but he’s also shifting the spotlight. Not in this first issue, anyway.

The comic functions as a peculiar hook, distinguishing itself—in no small part thanks to Öztekin—from all those conceptual limitations and obligations.

Maybe it’s all thanks to editors Alex Galer and Eric Harburn. But whoever’s responsible… it’s a Robocop comic where you want to read the next one, which is quite a feat.

Peloponnesian Cliffs

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Hercules: Wrath of the Heavens (Hercule); Titan Comics (Soleil); issues 1-5 (of 5); 2017-18; $3.99, most issues 32 pgs ea., first issue 56 pgs; collection (2018), $19.99.

En France… whoops, sorry. In France, Hercules came out in three forty-eight pages volumes. The first came out in 2012, the second in 2013, the third in 2017. It appears each volume is going to be one of Hercules’s twelve labors. Are they called labors? I spent about fifteen minutes trying to dig up original publication information because French comics information doesn't get readily translated. The Wikipedia page for Hercules author JD Morvan is atrocious.

The reason I was trying to dig up that original publication information is because Wrath of the Heavens is five issues and gets through the first three labors. I was even reading up on Hercules’s Wiki to try to figure out if the story was done or if the gigantic cliffhanger was indeed a cliffhanger.

I'm not familiar with the mythological Hercules, which (thanks Wikipedia) doesn't matter too much with Morvan’s hard sci-fi take on him. It's the far flung future, humanity lives in some kind of servitude to intergalactic beings (the gods). There's a bit about a revolution of the humans being bad because it would tank the economy. Morvan does a really good job updating the mythology and adding to it. Same goes for Looky, who realizes it all without ever getting goofy with the design. The gods look like gods, but in the context of being this special race of alien overlords.

There are some too obvious moves—humanity is called sklaves or slkaves or something similar. It's slaves, get it. But it usually doesn't matter because the story's moving so well, which is another reason the strangely abrupt ending seems wrong. Morvan is very deliberate in his plotting. The finish is perfunctory at best.

The comic’s got some inventive and loose adapting as far as the mythological source material goes, which is weird at first then improves. Awesome art start to finish. Some of the characters resonate, even though Hercules is a bit underdeveloped. His actions are interesting to Morvan, not his reactions.

It's a good comic. I only hope it doesn't take another five years to get the next installment.

Though Titan, who translates and reprints, seem to have waited until the third volume was done for this series and it'll be ages for labors four through six get done. There's not even a four in France yet.


Peloponnesian Cliffs was originally published on Visual Reflux

Announcing the New Amazing

Amazing being subjective. And not even all of it. Not all of the new amazing is mine alone.

But things are finally decided. So now for scheduling them.

I’m finally committing to a TV blog, albeit one with numerous caveats. It won’t be anything as it airs, not to get too much into how the sausage is going to be made, but there will be recent shows discussed. Probably go old, new, old, new, old, new. I only know it’s going to start on old because the first topic is going to be “Fawlty Towers.” The blog’s called A Televisual Feast. It’s live but empty. I assume I’ll make an opening soon post, now I have it planned. Posts starting there at the end of April.

As for Comics Fondle, which has been very quiet, with the occasional post from podcast co-host Vernon. We’re still putting together the “Best of 2018” show for the Comics Fondle podcast; by putting together, I mean we need to record. Life gets busy. But as for what I’m going to do with Comics Fondle going forward after the Love and Rockets readthrough? Issue-level posts still, but nothing incomplete. Or if it’s incomplete, it’s forever incomplete. Collected or completed stories, examined individually. Something I wish I had done with Love and Rockets, but what can I do. I’m not going to go back through them (unless someone wants to pay me, of course).

Comics Fondle I’m going to aim for end of March start-up. It’s taking me longer than expected to get mentally prepared for it—one of the big factors was getting more comfortable just using the old iPad Air again. Nicely, my cheapish keyboard stand is working out fine. And even if I can’t customize iPad Ulysses as much as I can the Mac version (I haven’t actually tried on the iPad version, I’m just guessing but who knows), it’s a good writing environment. I’m comfortable writing on the iPad again. And at greater lengths than before. Back when I first got the iPad Air and moved my blog-writing over to it, I was doing the constraints on Stop Button and Comics Fondle, so I’d rarely be typing any more than 250 words at a time. But my average post length for Stop Button is closer to 900 these days. And Love and Rockets posts were usually 400 to 500 words. I keep it loose with Summing Up, but 350 is the target. Because Ulysses makes targeting easy, which is cool.

As for 2019 and The Stop Button… I think I found a project. I’m not completely sold on it yet, but it requires something like a $4.99 app and resizing some art. But it’s not going to affect the site itself at all. I was thinking of doing monthly Sum Up posts—just freed of the previous constraints I was using—but I’m not sure. We’ll see after next month’s Luise Rainer post.

Well. There we go. Five hundred words justifying not starting the new blogging projects for at least a month. Score.