"RoboCop Versus The Terminator" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Originally published as RoboCop vs. The Terminator #1 - #4
Written by Frank Miller
Illustrated by Walter Simonson
1992, 128 Pages
Graphic novel released on July 2nd, 2014
RoboCop and The Terminator are two classic films in a decade filled with fantastic cinema. Have you ever wanted to see the two of them fight? Well, that happened over twenty years ago and Dark Horse has reprinted the series for your reading pleasure. Let me take you back to 1992. You're wearing neon clothes and snap bracelets while carrying your Trapper Keeper to class. That's when RoboCop vs. The Terminator hits the stands and blows your friggin' mind.
What immediately stands out about this comic is the quality. When you think of movie tie-in books or even titles that are based on movies, they're not usually the types that get a lot of attention. Star Wars got a big boost, but aside from that, the comics are often just a poor re-hash of the script. That's not the case with RoboCop vs. The Terminator. First off, you've got one helluva creative team. Frank Miller and Walter Simonson put this book together. This was at a point where Miller had already had a seminal run on Daredevil, made Batman cool again with The Dark Knight Returns, and written books like Ronin (which could be considered an inspiration for RoboCop). Simonson is possibly the quintessential artist for Thor and a legend in the industry. Needless to say, this was a book to watch before the first issue even hit the stands.
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Miller's script seamlessly weaves the two worlds together in a way that makes complete sense. It's the kind of thing that you wish you would have thought of sooner. SkyNet rises to power only after merging with Alex Murphy's consciousness. Boom. RoboCop causes the Terminators. It's his humanity that gives the machines the push they need to break through the boundaries of artificial intelligence. It's no wonder than Miller provided the original scripts for both RoboCop sequels.
Flo, a soldier in the future, discovers this and goes back in time in an attempt to kill Murphy before he has a chance to cause all this havoc. What follows is an overlapping time travel story with the Terminators, Flo, and RoboCop bouncing between timeliness in an effort to stop one another. Surprisingly, this is never confusing as time travel can often get when you're switching between realities like this.
The action in RoboCop vs. The Terminator is insane. It encapsulates the extreme era of the ‘90s without losing focus of the story. Miller even pokes fun at this a little, with several people commenting on the size of RoboCop's gun in one scene. Simonson delivers some brilliant battle scenes, with machine against machine, both bigger than anything that's ever appeared on the screen in either franchise. They're the kind of thing I would have wanted hanging on my wall when I was growing up. It's very easy to get wrapped up in these fights, like a great action movie. I found myself cheering RoboCop on as he takes the fight to the Terminators.
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The story gets at the heart of what's left of the humanity within RoboCop. Is he more machine than man? Does he still have his soul? Simonson's depiction of the character helps this along too. When he has his visor on, RoboCop is a cold, calculating cyborg. When he removes it, he's vulnerable even though the rest of his body is hard metal. This last shred of humanity is what separates him from the Terminators.
To celebrate the re-release of this mini-series, Dark Horse created an entirely new format. You can get this book as a standard hardcover or Kindle version, but if you want to go all out, you can drop $125 on the Gallery Edition. This reproduces Simonson's artwork in the original size exactly as it appeared on his drawing table. It also includes some insight into Simonson's process with a special foreward by the artist himself.
RoboCop vs. The Terminator is a damn near perfect crossover. It's the kind of thing that Freddy vs. Jason or Alien vs. Predator should have been. The two tales are weaved together in a way that makes it hard to separate them afterwards. If the studios just took this comic and made it into a movie instead of some of the other sequels we got, it would have been perfect. Unfortunately that didn't happen, but we do have this gorgeous comic to read showing RoboCop at his most badass and the Terminators at their most menacing.