Thank you for your cooperation. Good night. – Robocop #16
Robocop is a touchstone character with material of a somewhat checkered quality. His uber-violently entertaining cinematic debut was followed by sequels of rapidly plummeting quality, and his comic book output was mostly unremarkable. His most resonant graphic depiction was the organic (as it were) pairing with that other cybernetic franchise, the Terminator mythos. Frank Miller and Walt Simonson’s Robocop vs. The Terminator series was a bit of an event, but for me it ranks second to the greatest of all of Alex Murphy’s crossovers, the time HE SHOWED UP AT AN HONEST TO GOD PRO WRESTLING MATCH.
I may not be the biggest fan of the guy, but there’s something charming about his relentlessly goofy stiffness. I seem to remember a scene in one of the films — perhaps the first sequel — where he snuck up on a Detroit drug operation, his gears whizzing loudly, his feet stamping like jackhammers all the while, and no one heard him. It’s hard not to smile at that sort of chicanery. So what the hell — I’ll give one of his comics a go around.
Simon Furman, Andrew Wildman and Danny Bulanadi bring us “TV Crimes.” There’s been a rash of odd crimes in the already ravaged Detroit of the future (a future, judging by the date on the cover’s tombstone, that’s only days away), to wit:
Average, law-abiding citizens have been committing violent acts under insane delusional fantasies, which are as divergent as Wild West gunslingers, Freddy Krueger and Superman:
I can’t wait for the time when a dead man is a source of evening news levity. Maybe we’re already there.
Robocop, racked with guilt over having to take the “gunslinger’s” life, resolves to get to the bottom of this. He has some help from his fetching once and current partner:
Brain TV. How about it, science?
The two near-future crimefighters head out to do a little good cop/bad cop with the local purveyors of implant broadcasts. On the way they’re assaulted by a gauntlet of deranged folks, and Robocop’s circuitry is besieged by images of a lost life:
Murphy shakes off this happy dream in short order, and when he does he’s confronted by the man behind the deadly nonsense, a fired TV station employee who’s literally lost his head:
How does Robocop deal with this boob-tube clown? With what one might call “the direct approach”:
Arnim Zola, beware.
B-level Marvel books from this era (ca.1991) all looked alike to me. I could never get into them because of that. This one has that going against it, plus the dubious moral equilibrium of having Robocop tortured by his taking of a life and then putting a nice bow on the case by caving in a dude’s head. But in the up and down history of Robocop, I’d put this tale on the “up” side of the ledger. It has a cyborg cop punching a guy with a TV for a face. That’s almost — almost — as good as the pro wrestling appearance.