In this final issue of RoboCop Citizens Arrest, the creators delve into the production surrounding RoboCop and the battle between Old and New. Brian Wood has produced a script that is reminiscent of the original RoboCop movie in almost every way; minus the ED-209, which is a shame.
The story follows Leo Reza from his moments waking up as the next RoboCop through to his confrontation with Alex Murphy. Reza enters the Detroit streets under the command of O.C.P. and proves to be a hit with the populace and those in charge. Once more, a human-esq police office proves to be the reassuring protection that the city wants.
However, there is an aggressive streak within Reza’s actions; an anger that is bubbling just below the surface waiting for a moment to burst through to the surface.
Murphey, meanwhile, is protecting Reza’a family and waiting for the inevitable confrontation to occur. He is ready to fight whatever RoboCops O.C.P. throws at him.
The first half of this issue is all too familiar. The creation and awaking of the man within the machine bares more than a passing resemblance to the first movie. This isn’t just a nod to that story, an Easter egg for the reader, this is a retelling in short form. Reza waking, being sent on a mission and becoming the darling of the right wing news programs is a direct reference to the movie. There are, however, a few subtle differences which the Murphy RoboCop points out later in the issue and is the point that the creators are trying to make.
The original movie was a reaction to the time it was made; over the top, biased new casts; pushy advertising and inappropriate product placement; the rich being above the law. RoboCop was a clever satire of the world around it. Citizens Arrest follows that trend and its main point is ‘not much has changed’. The familiar opening attests to this fact by deliberately reminding the reader of a movie made in the 1980’s. The second act confrontation pits the old against the new but there is so little between them; how far have we come?
Despite the strengths of the narrative, the comic doesn’t pack the same kind of punch as previous incarnations of the character. This is partially down to the artwork. The close ups and a number of establishing shots are wonderful. They do exactly what they need to do. One in particular with Reza’s family hiding in their house is a clever, isolating panel surrounded by panels of action shots. It’s a smart layout and captures the essence of the scene brilliantly.
Unfortunately, not all of the art has this same impact. Sometimes the rendering of the characters is awkward or flat; lacking the impact that the moments deserve. This isn’t always the fault of Jorge Coelho, whose artwork gives the best pages of the comic their strength, but because the colour work by Doug Garbank doesn’t lend itself to some of the emotionally charged scenes. It feels inconsistent across some of the pages which makes the reader question the art and narrative unfavourably.
In one instance there is a scene with two characters running across two panels, the background has been dropped in favour of movement lines and colour only. These two panels work really well, with the starting point of the movement a bright yellow turning to a dark orange as the reader follows the characters. However, on other pages the background colours shift wildly with no discernible reason and on more than one occasion the background and foreground have uncomfortable meetings points.
There are some strong sequences in this comic, especially the lettering work on the sound effects which really stands out. The overall narrative has a point worth making and the referencing of the original film is a clever technique employed to make this point unfortunately some of this is lost in the inconsistent art work. This series overall has had strong and weak moments. I’m not sure if this would still be the case if a different artist worked on it because some of the stronger moments were down to Coelho’s layouts and composition. This is a satisfying conclusion to the story but it might not lend itself to a re-read.
RoboCop Citizens Arrest is published by Boom! Studios
Written by Brian Wood
Illustrated by Jorge Coelho
Coloured by Doug Garbark
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire
Life long comic book reader, collector, and reviewer.