Love Thy Neighbor…But Verify His Ass – RoboCop: Citizen’s Arrest #1

by Brendan M. Allen

Brian Wood, the visionary writer behind DMZ and Briggs Land, and Jorge Coelho (Venom, Rocket Raccoon) present a provocative vision of a future where justice is crowdsourced… and lethal. It’s been decades since the RoboCop program first began. Corporations have taken over the schools and the government—and law enforcement is the biggest private contract of all. Traditional police forces no longer exist as all citizens are encouraged—and rewarded—to spy on their neighbors. There is only one authority on the streets: ROBOCOP.

Thirty years ago, Detroit made a bold decision to privatize law enforcement. Outsourcing public safety to Omni Consumer Products gave birth to the disastrous ED-209 program and RoboCop, a cyborg fashioned from the remains of fallen police officer Alex Murphy. While he exposed and foiled OCP’s nefarious plans to raze Detroit to the ground, somehow RoboCop was left holding the bag. Three decades later, OCP is somehow back in the power seat with a new set of androids.

Big Brother is alive and well, but instead of having their privacy violated against their will by telescreens, the populace is willingly narcing each other off for fun and profit. The new R/COP mobile app charges citizens a small fee to report crimes as they happen, and allows the civic-minded reporter to receive up to five times their investment if the tip results in arrest. Sounds well and good, but what about false tips? That deposit could be considered a small price to pay to put your bitchy neighbor or that guy who cut you off in traffic through a couple days of pure hell.

Where does Alex Murphy fit into all this? He doesn’t exactly. He’s been permanently “retired.” He sits at home, marginalized, disarmed, and all but forgotten. Meanwhile, OCP’s new toys roam the streets enforcing the new Orwellian status quo that relies on crowd-sourcing and mob rule.

Brian Wood’s script brings many of the themes from the 1987 film to Citizen’s Arrest. Insane levels of commercialization, militarization of police, privatizing public services, and deliberate misrepresentation by the media are all themes that were relevant in the eighties, and have become even more so with the addition of internet and social media.

Jorge Coelho takes a fresh look at dystopian Detroit while nodding at the first film. The visual themes from the film are definitely present in this book. There’s a huge disconnect between the poverty stricken Shore and Ruins and the gentrified affluence of Downtown.

Robocop was the second R rated film I ever snuck into as a kid (Predator was the first). Citizen’s Arrest feels like a natural extension of the source material. I can’t wait to see what happens when RoboCop brings his special brand of futuristic, old fashioned justice to this new scene.

Robocop: Citizen’s Arrest #1, published by Boom! Studios, releases 11 April 2018. Written by Brian Wood, art by Jorge Coelho, letters by Ed Dukeshire, color by Doug Gabark. Covers available by Nimit Malavia, David Rubin, Hal Laren, and Jim Towe.

Brendan M. Allen

Brendan Allen has probably had more jobs than you would reasonably believe. Dog trainer? He’s done it. Flooring contractor? You bet! EMT? Army NBC specialist? Road dog for a Celtic rock band? Yes, yes, and och aye! Now he reads comics and writes about them. It's a rough gig. You can follow Brendan on Twitter @SaintAmish where he mostly tweets about comic books and cystic fibrosis awareness.

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