Terrible ideas that actually turned into awesome comics

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Ever since the Justice Society first gathered around their oversized table back in 1940, comics have played host to countless crossovers, and once they got around to licensing movies and TV shows, the possibilities became endless. It is, after all, a lot easier (and way more cost-effective) to just draw two of your favorite characters hanging out together than to lure in a couple of actors to do the job. Unfortunately, that also means that the market was absolutely overflowing with crossovers in the ’90s, and while the creators behind them were usually trying their best and wound up making some pretty fun moments, most of the results were, at best, just okay.

RoboCop vs. Terminator, on the other hand, rules harder than any other crossover, with the possible exception of Archie vs. Predator. That book, though, at least has the wild shock-value of its premise to carry it to readers who have to see how that works. RoboCop and Terminator, on the other hand, are just close enough that they shouldn’t work. They’re two different kinds of sci-fi, a time-travel action story set against a near-future satire. It’s easy to put the two characters against each other, but creating a world where that action makes any kind of sense? That’s a lot harder.

This one pulls it off in a way that makes it seem effortless, mostly because it’s from two of the all-time greatest comics creators working at the top of their game: Frank Miller and Walt Simonson. Released in 1992, it might actually be the last truly great Frank Miller comic, and while Simonson is still great, he’s hitting the same kind of virtuosic art that made his run on Thor the most definitive take on the character, and one of the greatest runs of all time.

Not only do they manage to create a premise that blends the two series—Alex Murphy’s digitized brain and the work done to give him his part man, part machine, all-cop body provides the spark of sentience that allows Skynet to awaken and take over the world and start terminating humanity—it also goes far enough over the top to give you everything you want to see. We see the price of humanity’s failure, in that Terminators take to the stars in massive Warhammer 40,000-lookin’ spaceships capped off with gigantic silver skulls, and we see that future averted in the most fist-pumpingly awesome way possible. Seriously, this is a book that climaxes with an army of RoboCops, created when Murphy hides his consciousness in Skynet’s programming and then takes over a Terminator factory once he wakes up to make soldiers in his own image, taking on an army of Terminators in the battlefields of the future. It’s rad as hell, with the expert storytelling to back up its own premise.

It should not possibly be this good, but it absolutely is.

Each week, comic book writer Chris Sims answers the burning questions you have about the world of comics and pop culture: what’s up with that? If you’d like to ask Chris a question, please send it to @theisb on Twitter with the hashtag #WhatsUpChris, or email it to staff@looper.com with the subject line “That’s What’s Up.”

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