Robocop: Dead or Alive, vol. 1

Robocop: Dead or Alive, vol. 1Summary: Only months after the death of Clarence Boddicker, RoboCop and Officer Anne Lewis are in the middle of an OCP gun initiative that has turned the streets of Old Detroit into a raging inferno with bullets flying. With the political uprising of a deadly and charismatic criminal, Killian, no one in the city is safe an no law is set in stone. Killian went into the slammer before RoboCop hit the streets, but now he wants to take out the biggest cop in the city. Joshua Williamson (NAILBITER; BIRTHRIGHT) and Carlos Magno (COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS; PLANET OF THE APES) return RoboCop to the roots of the original film.


Robocop: Dead or Alive, vol. 1, by Joshua Williamson, Carlos Magno and Marissa Louise 7.0

I’m a pretty big fan of the original ‘Robocop‘ movie (and as anyone reading TCE knows, not so much of the sequels). Though I balked at the idea when I first encountered it, the picture turned out to be a genuinely entertaining piece of socio-political satire courtesy of director Paul Verhoeven; it painted a vision of an ethically and financially-bankrupt future.

It was a seemingly prescient vision.

“Dead or Alive” is set months after the events of the first film: OCP and the Mayor are trying to get all the unregistered guns off the streets and, to do so, they’re trying to reach out through citizen groups. But Killian, an ex-con with close ties to the Detroit underworld, is trying to manipulate the situation to wreak havoc and overload the police department.

Meanwhile, Officer Lewis is studying to become a Detective, and feeling guilty about leaving her partner behind. To pepper the pot, there’s also a romantic subplot brewing with one of her colleagues. But what’s most interesting is trying to figure out exactly what OCP and the Mayor have in mind; based on the first film, there’s no doubt that there’s money to be made…

But how do they stand to profit from this situation?

The story seems realistic enough, though it doesn’t feel like the stakes are especially high. It’s clear that the Second Amendment people would feel they are, but I don’t. I still don’t understand why people can’t defend themselves with stun guns or other devices besides guns. I mean, why kill and maim when it’s not necessary, when you can just knock someone out?

Further to that, the story wrapped up far too easily, when Lewis opposed the OCP and mayoral initiative, telling a mob of protestors that they’d recanted – even though it was a fabrication. It didn’t make sense that she could do this and defuse the situation without anyone calling her bluff. It seemed all very naïve to me. I mean, just about anyone could do the same.

So wouldn’t there be tons of people pulling similar stunts, then, if it’s that easy?

To make matters worse, she was then given a promotion to the rank of Detective, both for public relations’ sake and to get her out of OCP’s and the Mayor’s way. Her first task: organising years of archived murder files. Grunt work, basically. It’s clear she’s being punished, but the fact that they actually tell her to her face seemed a bit heavy-handed to me.

Wouldn’t the smart thing to do be to not tell her, to just leave her wondering?

Carlos Magnos’ art is adequate, detailed enough without being entirely accurate; there are enough lines that it gives the page a nearly photographic look. And it’s appropriately brutal in its depiction of key violent scenes, just as the original movie was. Sadly, the satirical side of ‘Robocop’ seems missing; the violence appeared to me to be more self-indulgent here.

But, all told, ‘Robocop: Dead or Alive, vol. 1’ was an okay book. It wasn’t particularly exciting, but it wasn’t dull either, and the story seems to fit the bill somewhat. I just wish that the stakes had felt higher or that there was something outstanding in this story aside for Robocop himself. Because, as it stands, it’s just your average cops versus gangs story. Meh.

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