Comic Books That Time Forgot - RoboCop vs. The Terminator (1992)
ROBOCOP VS. THE TERMINATOR - Dark Horse Comics, 1992
Author's Note: I'm a retired comic book geek. After about fifteen years of avid collecting, I sold off the bulk of my comics in the early 1990s. At one time my collection was somewhere in the neighborhood of 5000 books, but after The Great Purge I boiled everything down to one long box (approx. 400 books) of "keepers" that I plan on hanging onto forever and ever. These may not be issues that are particularly valuable, but they're personal favorites that I have always enjoyed reading and re-reading. This is part of a series of entries in which I simply reach into the "keepers" box every once in a while, pull out a random book, and post about it.
I was inspired to pull this 4-issue mini series out of the archives way back in 2011 after some news bits about both of these classic sci-fi franchises came across the pop-cultural radar. First was the announcement that the fresh-from-bankruptcy MGM Studios had, at long last, greenlighted the "reboot" of " RoboCop" that had been languishing in Development Hell for the better part of a decade. MGM stated at the time that they were intent on "courting" a big-name star to play the title role, with Tom Cruise (!), Johnny Depp (!!) and Keanu Reeves (!!!) as possibilities, but as a long-time Robo-Geek I called B.S. on all three of those "candidates." It would seem that my crystal ball was accurate because as we all know by now, after numerous delays and production difficulties, the RoboCop remake - starring Joel Kinnaman in the title role - was finally released to a round of general indifference in early 2014.
As for "The Terminator," numerous movie websites gleefully pointed out in April 2011 that according to the timeline/mythology of that film series, Tuesday, April 19 of that year was the date that the evil SkyNet computer network first became self aware, and two days later (April 21st) was the day that it declared an all-out war on humanity. This, of course, became known as (cue Ah-nuld voice) "JUDGMENT DAY." Thankfully, I didn't see any armies of mechanical exo-skeletons marching down my block that week, but if I had, I would've known who to call for help. Thanks to this 1992 mini-series from Dark Horse Comics, I knew that RoboCop had already whooped the Terminator's metallic behinds once before!
"RoboCop" 1987 trailer:
Written by the legendary Frank Miller (who'd previously had a hand in the scripting of the 2nd and 3rd RoboCop films, in addition to his ridiculously long resume of critically acclaimed, award winning comics work) and drawn by longtime fan favorite Walter Simonson (best known for his long run on Marvel's "Thor"), "RoboCop Vs. The Terminator" cleverly combined the universes of both film franchises (in a way that actually made sense) and though the comic may not have spent much time on plot or character development, it certainly delivered the metal-on-metal mechanical violence and action in spades!!
It seems that in the post-apocalyptic future of the Terminator films, the human cause is all but lost and SkyNet is on the verge of wiping out the last few fleshy survivors. However, a band of human resistance fighters manages to battle its way into a Terminator "Time Displacement" facility and send one of their warriors back to present-day Old Detroit, home of RoboCop. It seems that the same human/cyborg integration technology that made RoboCop possible was also instrumental in the creation of the dreaded SkyNet computer network. The humans believe that if they can kill Officer Alex Murphy before he becomes RoboCop, there will never be a SkyNet, and therefore no Judgment Day. (Got all that? Good.)
Unfortunately, the warrior woman miscalculates the time frame in which she should arrive in the past, so that when she materializes in Old Detroit, RoboCop is already in existence and is busily patrolling the streets. ("Tricky business, time travel.") That's actually a good thing, because naturally SkyNet recognizes the threat and quickly sends a squadron of Terminators through the time stream to eliminate her before she can harm Murphy/Robo (who the Terminators refer to as "The Creator"). Needless to say, all hell quickly breaks loose in Old Detroit, leading Robo/Murphy into an uneasy alliance with the woman sent to kill him, in order to fight for Humanity's future.
"RoboCop Vs. Terminator" video game:
Who would you root for in this throwdown?
Over the course of this 4 issue series, RoboCop managed to travel through time to join up with the human resistance, got a face-to-face showdown with SkyNet's master control, and got in touch with his human side in a way that we hadn't seen since the first "RoboCop" film. In addition, a couple of those clunky, stupid ED-209 units became unlikely heroes, and naturally, lots of stuff blew up. I mean A LOT of stuff. If only Orion Pictures (the now-defunct film studio that, at one time, owned both the RoboCop and Terminator franchises) had turned this story into a movie! Not only would they have beaten the "Alien Vs. Predator" flicks to the punch by nearly a decade, but we might have been spared the pain of "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" or that godawful "RoboCop" syndicated TV series from the mid-90s. Alas, the only other media inspired by this mash-up was a "RoboCop Vs. The Terminator" video game cartridge for the then-current Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis systems, which I'm ashamed to say I've never played. Weep for what might have been!
This mini-series was collected in a special hardcover edition in 1992 (according to Amazon, anyway; I've never seen a copy personally) which of course is now a long out of print, pricey collectible. Thankfully, the individual issues are still widely available via your local comic book dealer or the Internet and the set of four will only set you back a couple of bucks. Fans of either franchise are encouraged to check out this underrated crossover.
...and on a final note, whilst doing some Net research in preparation for writing this Hub, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Dynamite Comics (the then-current holders of the comic license for "RoboCop") let these two metallic titans go toe-to-toe once again, in 2011 series called "Terminator/RoboCop: Kill Human.". Cool! I haven't set foot inside a comic book store in years but I may be tempted to visit one to track down some back issues of that series. Once a Robo-fanboy, always a Robo-fanboy!