Summary: For the first time ever, Dark Horse is proud to collect Frank Miller and Walt Simonson’s classic RoboCop vs. the Terminator comic books in graphic novel format! Comics’ greatest creators pit the supreme machine killer against the ultimate cybernetic cop in one of the most celebrated crossovers ever! When fate reveals that the technology that built RoboCop will lead to the creation of Skynet, Alex Murphy must engage in time-twisting battle against both the murderous computer network and the human Resistance fighters out to destroy him!
RoboCop vs. The Terminator, by Frank Miller and Walter Simonson 5.25
I’m a fan of ‘The Terminator‘. Or at least the James Cameron films in the series. I’m also a fan of ‘RoboCop‘, though the sequels pale in comparison. Not everyone knows that Frank Miller, the legendary comic book auteur wrote the sequel to ‘RoboCop’ (though by all admissions what ended up on screen was a shadow of what he’d envisioned).
But he’s the guy behind ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ and ‘Sin City’, and countless other comics, so a Frank Miller-penned mini-series pitting RoboCop versus The Terminator is a tantalizing idea. And that’s exactly what he and Walt Simonson did in 1992 for Dark Horse Comics: they found a way to crossover these two unrelated but iconic series.
The basic idea is that Flo, one of humanity’s last soldiers, goes back in time to kill Alex Murphy before he can connect to Skynet – which this mini-series claims is what helped spark its consciousness. Naturally, the Terminators arrive in tow, trying to stop her, and RoboCop comes to the rescue – then goes into the future to eradicate them.
Yup. It’s all action all the time.
Frankly, I was very unimpressed with the writing; it all felt contrived to accommodate fans of either series, to give them cheap thrills. For instance, Miller arranged for Flo not to know why Alex Murphy is key, that he could connect to Skynet because he’s RoboCop. So she arrives in Detroit expecting a human being and is unprepared to fight a machine.
This is utterly stupid because it seems like a major omission, even in a post-apocalyptic future. There’d be records of that “minor” detail. And then, knowing about RoboCop, she’d have gone back in time earlier to kill him before he becomes the cybernetic law enforcer. It’s just convenience on the part of Miller, and it doesn’t ring true at all.
What would have been interesting about this would have been the role-reversal of the human going back to assassinate a human, and the Terminators trying to save him. Granted, it would have ended up echoing ‘The Terminator’ to some degree, but it would have been interesting in its own right. Then again, we also wouldn’t have had RoboCop in it.
Another annoying aspect of the book is that Miller uses the machines as a vehicle to pass on his misanthropic views, which is both sad and ironic. He probably relates to them best, and I have no doubt that the machines find humanity weak in some respects, but their internal dialogue wouldn’t be as subjective as he portrays it; they are machines, after all.
It’s so blatant, in fact, that he actually shows a horde of Terminators cheering their victory over the last human, with their fists raised in the air. It’s already dumb enough that they’d even celebrate their victory (they’d likely just move on with their business once the job is done) but to have them cheer is utterly out of characters for the Terminators.
And don’t get me started about RoboCop going through time, rebuilding himself in the future and then helping humanity survive the onslaught of the machines – by taking over parts of a Terminator factory, redesigning himself and making a bunch of them in his image. I just couldn’t be bothered with the senseless combat that was laid endlessly on the page.
Frankly, I had never expected much out of a book called ‘RoboCop vs The Terminator’, but you’d have imagined that someone like Frank Miller would have made something half-decent out of it. But, as he’s shown us time and time again, Frank Miller is hardly a guarantee of quality – and this is yet another juvenile mess that he’s lent his name to. Skip it.