It’s a Trap! Robocop Versus The Terminator #1-4

Let us here at PoP! guide you through a minefield of books that seem full of win from the word go, but which once you crack them open have you shouting… It’s a Trap!

Dead or alive, you're... wait. You're a robot. You're neither dead NOR alive! NOW WHAT DO I DO!?Written by Frank Miller
Illustrated by Walter Simonson
Published by Dark Horse

How can you go wrong with two of the biggest names in comics working with two of the biggest names in science fiction? Terminator dogs, for starters, but I’m getting way ahead of myself.

The premise of this crossover is fairly simple – it was Robocop’s hybrid brain which gave Skynet sentience and unleashed the Terminator army on the world. A single human in the future then travels back in time to kill Robo before this can happen, and of course, Skynet sends some Terminators back to stop her. Murphy must then defend his would be assassin against the killer androids, and in so doing possibly earn her respect. At its core, it’s a fairly decent premise. In execution, it delivers some seriously balls to the wall fight scenes and really cranks up the creativity on how a battle between these two cybernetic constructs might unfold. So what’s so bad about it?

The biggest problem is one that repeats throughout the four issue series. The human comes back in time to kill Robocop. She succeeds. But as the future is changing, Skynet notices the changes and has just enough time to send a contingent back in time to “save the future” for the machines. The idea that a temporal change would happen gradually like that is simply laughable. If Robocop was killed in time and Skynet never became sentient, there would NEVER HAVE BEEN Terminators. Instead, the creative team posits that they still exist and can monitor the event horizon of the temporal shift as its coming to erase them. So, before their demise, they send operatives back in time to “make things right.” It’s ridiculous and clearly only exists out of necessity for the story to unfold correctly. Of course, this happens a few more times, as the book constantly writes and rewrites new paths for the future to follow.

The choices to utilize first a family of Terminators and later a Terminator dog also seem odd. While at the time some may have considered this clever and innovative, it now just reads as hokey and hackneyed. It’s too bad, too. Simonsons’s art is fairly gorgeous, I just hate seeing him have to draw such ridiculous things as he did here.

I probably shouldnt’ have had high hopes for a book selling itself on the gimmick that it’s “Robocop vs The Terminator,” but I still can’t help but feel let down by two masters of their craft. Robocop vs. the Terminator gets 3 out of 5 plasma rifles somehow assembled from spare parts. And I didn’t even touch upon the Murpy-nator…

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Filed Under: ColumnsIt's a Trap!

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Jason Kerouac is a co-founder of Panelsonpages.com. He spends roughly half of his waking life in servitude to the Giraffe. Raised in a town in New Hampshire you've never heard of, he now lives in Indianapolis, IN and is pretty sure that's a step in the right direction.

Comments (8)

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  1. Ben Gilbert says:

    I remember picking up the first two issues at my LCBS back when it first came out, and it just didn’t interest me that much. After reading how the series ended, I’m glad I didn’t bother to finish it.

  2. Robert Eddleman says:

    “But as the future is changing, Skynet notices the changes and has just enough time to send a contingent back in time to “save the future” for the machines. The idea that a temporal change would happen gradually like that is simply laughable.”

    Reminds me of Cable & the ’90s X-Men animated series.

    • Jason Kerouac says:

      Actually, I always thought that was cool! Cable was still in the process of time traveling, so you could make the argument that he was outside the effects of his own retcon. He’d get back to the future and be all “I cured the virus” and Forge would be like “What virus, you jackass! We need you to stop an assassination!” Unless I’m remembering it incorrectly.

      In Robocop versus Terminator, you literally see the world changing across panels, and it’s as though – perhaps because they are artificial – Skynet is always the last thing to feel the effects of the change. It actually sort of make me think of the Langoliers movie. Never read the book, so I don’t know if that’s relevant as well, but its as though Skynet could register the approach of this temporal wave, which is to me a far more absurd idea than the possibility that a sentient super computer can send robots back through time as long as they’re wearing skin suits.

      I guess the biggest disappointment of this book, and I’m sorry I didn’t touch on it in the main article, is that the first two Terminator movies (can’t speak for the others) take the stance that history is written. Even if you invent a time machine and send someone back to alter history, they’re just going to bring about the same damned future you’re trying to prevent. It’s like I always say… I can’t go back in time and save Lincoln from being assassinated because we’re in the future and we know what happened. If I went back in time and saved him, we’d a;ready know he had been saved, because THAT would be our past. The only other option is divergent timelines, where time travel to the past to fix things is a completely selfless act, because you’re in no way altering YOUR timeline, you’re just doing it to make sure a better one exists somewhere. This book lived in neither of those realities, but instead dealt with time travel as a panacea to promise a perfect future, and that does the source material a grave disservice.

  3. ELI says:

    I think the apsect of the terminators monitoring the timeline was pretty interesting at the time, and like the dog and family is pretty hokey by modern standards. When these came out there weren’t as many solid time travel stories. The whole mini series is one big gnarly paradox that doesn’t make any sense by modern standards. That does not take away from the fucking kick ass idea that Murphy’s mind is loose in the skynet network and at one point takes over a terminator factory to crank out thousands of robocops.

    I still this this was one of the better Versus books to try and jump on the awesome coat tails of Aliens Vs Predator and with a little shoulder shrugging as to the silly time travel stuff is a great read.

  4. Robert Eddleman says:

    Regarding the animated X-Men, at some point didn’t something change in the past and Cable had to avoid temporal tornados that were changing things? I think I remember his son disappearing.

    • Jason Kerouac says:

      Eli: I’ll give you that Murphy making Robocops was awesome. Still… meh.

      Rob: Maybe. But I think that was when Apocalypse got to the center of time or some shit, so that story was already fucked.

  5. Heytherejeffro says:

    Robin vs. Terminator. Make it happen.

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