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RoboCop 2: The Official Adaptation of the Hit Film! Adapted by Alan Grant. Pencilled by Mark Bagley. Inked by Tony DeZuniga. New York: Marvel Comics, 1990. 61p. $4.95. ISBN 0-87135-666-X.

Science fiction; popular culture fiction (movie adaptation)

Adults, teens, older kids; gorier-than-average comic book violence

In a future Detroit [variously referred to as Old Detroit or Detroit City], OmniConsumerProducts (OCP) runs the Detroit Police Department. (They were the ones who had introduced RoboCop in the first place.) However, most of the cops are on strike because OCP cut their salaries by 40% and cancelled their pensions--and as a result, Detroit is beginning to sink into chaos. Another reason for the chaos is the presence of the drug Nuke, which is not only incredibly addictive but is also the focus of a cult, run by a man who calls himself Cain. The mayor of Detroit confronts the leaders of OCP, only to find that because the city owes the corporation money and is about to default on a payment, OCP is about to foreclose, which is why they triggered the strike in the first place.

Elsewhere, though most of the cops are on strike, RoboCop (formerly Officer Alex Murphy) makes short work of some thugs in his quest to find the source of Nuke. Though he breaks in on their operation, he is brought down by Hob Mills, a 12-year-old with a gun (RoboCop can't shoot kids), and Cain and the woman Angie [whose function is unexplained] escape. RoboCop and his partner angrily return to the police station, where RoboCop is checked out by the various technicians. They peek at the images he recorded, including his dreams; he's been dreaming of the family he lost when he was killed. Later, while patrolling, he drives past his old house and stares at his former wife and son.

At OCP, they're trying to create RoboCop 2, but the robots tear their own heads off as soon as they're activated. Dr. Faxx, a psychologist, suggests that using former policemen is not a good idea; she starts to re-screen candidates for conversion. Elsewhere, at the Ground Zero video game parlor, RoboCop and his partner Lewis overhear Hob Mills talking with Officer Duffy. They burst in and capture Duffy, who reveals Cain's whereabouts: an old abandoned sludge plant. RoboCop immediately goes to the plant. He easily walks through the small-arms fire of Cain's men and walks past the unarmed Angie, but when he confronts Cain, Hob shoots him with a heavy gun, and Angie electrocutes him. Thereafter, Cain and his men disassemble the helpless android. Later, they dump him out in front of the striking cops and torture Duffy to death.

RoboCop's technicians desperately try to keep him alive long enough to put him back together. Elsewhere, Dr. Faxx reveals that she wants to use a psychopathic brain in the new RoboCop 2, which disgusts her immediate superiors but not the CEO of OCP, who is her lover. OCP has also been dragging its feet about saving the original RoboCop, but Dr. Faxx finally gets down to it--by incorporating every single suggestion made by a panel of experts into RoboCop's new command program. When he wakes, he calls himself "Alex Murphy," but some adjustments by Dr. Faxx bring him back to normal--or so everyone thinks. When he and Lewis confront thugs and juveniles robbing a store and are fired upon, rather than fire back, he spouts nonsense about talking things out, tries to read a dead thug his rights, lectures the juveniles rather than captures them so that they escape, and nearly throttles the store owner when he complains about the kids getting away. As the day goes on he exhibits increasingly erratic behavior. Back at the station, the techs discover the hundreds of trivial directives that Dr. Faxx had uploaded into his command program. They're afraid to try to remove them, so RoboCop does it himself by giving himself a massive electrical jolt that erases all the directives. He and a lot of other cops stage a massive raid on Cain's plant, killing most of the people there. Cain is not killed outright, but is dying--and he's got the perfect brain for RoboCop 2, according to Dr. Faxx.

An adequate movie adaptation, so far as I can judge (I haven't seen the movie). The story is about as predictable as you can imagine, but I'll say this much for it: it doesn't drag. Grant did a decent job of communicating the essentials of the story, though I'm left wondering whether he simply forgot to include anything about Angie's function in the story, or whether she really didn't have a defined role in the movie.

Some plot idiocies: Why doesn't RoboCop blow Cain away the moment he sees him, like he does with practically every other baddie he confronts? (Answer: because the screenwriter needed him to stand still long enough for Hob to get the drop on him. Oh, how often this contrivance is used.) For that matter, knowing that a thing like RoboCop could attack them at any time, why aren't Cain's thugs armed with heavier weapons? Or knowing RoboCop's capabilities, why would Duffy dare to speak with Hob in public? These problems are not Grant's fault, of course. (I was surprised to see his name on this book; he must have been slumming.)

The art is standard superhero stuff of minimal competence and zero originality. I guess I should be charitable toward Bagley and DeZuniga; with its uncritical built-in audience, this was either the kind of project foisted off on rank beginners, or such a rush job that no one had time to do more than was necessary to depict the action. The faces are terrible, as you can see in the sample below:

RoboCop 2 image
 Copyright 1990, Marvel Comics

RoboCop 2 is not horrible, but it never rises above ordinary, and the art drags it down a few notches. Fans of the movie will like the book. SF fans with superhero tastes might also like it. Given the kind of violence and gore we see regularly in manga these days, this book is pretty tame; I'm mentioning it mostly for those who collect for ultra-sensitive audiences.


Copyright 2000, D. Aviva Rothschild


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