As a big fan of Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop, I have to say I'm really, really happy with the work writer Joshua Williamson and artist Carlos Magno are doing with the franchise. Not only does Magno's style make it feel like a proper return to the 1987 film's world, but Williamson's story is also implementing a topical subject which feels appropriate for Alex Murphy's violent city.
This issue may not deliver any big jaw-droppers or significant substance, but it does focus on moving the story forward and concludes on a note that has me very anxious to see the preview for the fourth chapter. Killian's plan is proceeding basically as expected (there's a small surprise or two in there) and the tension, both in Detroit's streets and in RoboCop's mind, is high. We've yet to see Williamson truly dive deep into how Alex Murphy feels about enforcing this new law, but responding to the new threat certainly hasn't been easy and this allows for a focus on Murphy's detective work instead of just pointing and shooting. It may not be the most thrilling chapter, but when all is said and done, the narrative has moved forward and it ends on a note that promises an action-heavy follow-up. And in case you missed out on the first two issues but still want to jump on, Williamson successfully gives us a recap via some cheesy TV anchors (you know, the kind of anchors that'll read a dark and/or foreboding story yet still smile and make a lame remark about it).
For the most part, artist Carlos Magno and colorist Marissa Louise do a sufficient job bringing us right into this corrupt, tense, and dirty city. The pages consistently ooze the appropriate atmosphere and the heavy emphasis on strong shading and darker tones feels right at home. There's a panel or two where RoboCop feels a tad clunky and some faces are a bit off, but overall, the character work is suitable and there's always an impressive amount of attention dedicated to bringing these different settings to life. It's also commendable how many characters and/or objects they pack into some of these pages.
The visuals often do a solid job immersing us in this dirty and corrupt world, but sometimes the coloring undergoes drastic changes which just don't feel fitting. For example, the opening scene is full of darker shades, but when the police bust in, suddenly we're hit with vibrant colors and they're used to present big displays of motion and light flooding into the room. It's a drastic contrast and doesn't really feel appropriate, especially when other action scenes are still flooding with darker shades. I don't mind when backgrounds are filled with shades of red or green to up the intensity, but there's a few smaller moments where the coloring just doesn't seem to compliment the rest of the artwork. Also, the facial work occasionally has too much line work around the mouth and it looks a tad awkward.
As for the issue itself, it isn't necessary a "bad" thing, but this definitely feels like a buildup issue. We've had a look at the world and the villain, and now we're seeing the villain take big steps with his plans. It's one of those issues that'll likely read better in a collection, but for now, it's not going to do anything to really blow you away. If you've been enjoying the series, odds are you'll remain hooked and satisfied with these developments, but it isn't quite as engrossing as the other chapters. It's not enough to warrant a bump down to a 3, but it's worth noting.
Minor gripe: that's a very long tunnel RoboCop was looking down and he didn't spot anything. Then, the massive truck abruptly hits him head-on. It's a good cliffhanger and has me anxious to see what'll happen next, but, based on the panels, it feels like the truck just magically appeared.
This latest chapter feels slightly weaker than the previous two, but, as a fan of the franchise and what BOOM! Studios is doing with this character so far, it still had me totally immersed in this gritty story and left me feeling very optimistic about what's to come. This one doesn't have big action or a significant focus on character, but it gets all of the pieces moving forward and builds plenty of potential. Now that Killian's plan is moving full speed ahead, we can hopefully get a stronger focus on character and excitement in the next issue. Still, this RoboCop fan is very pleased.