Avatar Comics, Avatar Press, big box of comics, frank miller, indie box, Indie Comics, Juan Jose Ryp, robocop, robocop 2
Welcome back to another installment of the Big Box of Comics, where I share the treasures I’ve acquired thanks to this blog’s readers. Today we’ll look at a series of comics I picked up just for the covers—but oh, what covers they are!
In the summer of 1990, just before my final year of high school, Robocop 2 hit the big screen. A huge fan of the original movie, I had to see the sequel. This was before we had year-long lead-ups to summer blockbusters with so many trailers and leaks and hundreds of YouTubers making videos about the damn trailers and everything being over-hyped online until there’s no way any movie can live up to all that.
No, I just walked into the theater without knowing much of anything other than “Robocop is awesome,” and I took an unexpected journey. It was one of the first—if not the first—movie with an R rating I got to see on my own since I had turned seventeen that year, and my teenage mind was blown away. But what really caught me by surprise was when the end credits announced the movie was written by a comic-book creator whose work I knew: Frank Miller.
The stunning revelation made instant sense to me. Movies based on comic books are a dime a dozen now, but Robocop 2 was one of the first live-action films that really captured the essence of the over-the-top action, humorous parody, pointed social commentary, insane violence, and grim-and-gritty protagonists that characterized the tonal shift in many mainstream comics in the mid-to-late 1980s. Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns was a big part of that change, and his Robocop film had a lot in common with it.
But while the movie was so much fun in a “Rule of Cool” way, the comics adaptation based on Miller’s original script is a mean-spirited mess that lacks the movie’s focus and hilarity, and it will probably make you grateful for all the changes made for the film. Its best feature is the artwork by Juan Jose Ryp, a non-stop visual feast of intricately detailed hyper-violence that is gloriously exemplified by Ryp’s covers for the series—especially the wraparound covers.
Ryp drew my all-time favorite covers, and he is in fine form on Robocop where he renders cyborgs, cops, and criminals in chaotic combat scenes that completely destroy their urban environments. Although the series itself isn’t so great, I indulged in these works of art for my small collection of Ryp’s work for Avatar Press. Along the way, I also picked up some ripping Ryp wraps that were missing from my Anna Mercury and Wolfskin collections.
You could probably stuff a short box full of nothing but Ryp’s prolific output for Avatar. And who knows? Maybe one day I will. As Robocop says at the end of the movie version, “Patience, Lewis. We’re only human.”
Collector’s Guide: These covers appear on the original single issues of Frank Miller Robocop by Avatar Press (2003). If you lack the patience to track them all down in print, you can get the entire digital collection for about $20.
Ryp also did covers for Robocop: Wild Child and Robocop: Killing Machine, though he did not do the interior art and they are only sixteen pages each.