Monday, 9 September 2013

FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! #48


This week's FIGHT is written by James Clayton.


Real po-lice? Oh, pur-lease...

Citizens!
Do you really want 'real po-lice'?

Are you happy that your hard-earned and even harder-claimed tax dollars are going to be spent on 'real po-lice'?

Well, friends, I think we can do better and I think you deserve better.

We all know that 'unreal po-lice' are required in these desperate times.
How about techno-techno po-lice?
Now we're talking!
Now we're really fighting crime!
Now we're getting hard on some hard science fiction, son!

You can keep your real po-lice for we have the next generation of law enforcers to serve the public, maintain order, stick up for the greater good and soak up the entire municipal budget.

Well, we could either play with crime statistics figures or play with science. Ask yourselves, what would real po-lice do?

We've got the technology. We've got the dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American Dream.

Oh.

You didn't want your hard-earned and hard-lost tax dollars spent on ludicrous, unnecessarily-expensive law enforcement solutions built on futuristic technology brainstormed by imbecile minds under the heavy influence of ultraviolent pop culture?

Well, fear not citizens! We'll have none of that nonsense on the streets of this fair burg! For we are real po-lice!


*Secretly initiates back-up plan where over-expensive techno-techno po-lice destroy each other before anyone sees the research and development budget...*



FIGHT #48

 ROBOCOP

vs
TIMECOP


WHO THEY THEN? 



RoboCop is a nice title for a late 20th century sci-fi action flick. The character himself is a cyborg law enforcer working in Detroit, Michigan. Once upon a time he was Officer Alex J. Murphy, a full-blooded family man with feelings and emotions, but that all ended when a gang of sick sadistic goons tortured our innocent hero and shot his body to itty-bitty-git-bits.

He was left for dead but (un)fortunately(!) Omni Consumer Products - the corporation proud to privatise and ruin all your public services - picked up his bloody mutilated husk and reappropriated it for their own insidious ends. He's now RoboCop (model name: OCP Crime Prevention Unit 001) and he has four prime directives...

1. Serve the public trust.
2. Protect the innocent.
3. Uphold the law.
4. (Classified).

Altogether, he's a pretty cutting edge piece of technology and he impresses himself as an appealing, awe-inspiring lawmandroid so cool that you can keep his stocky metal form staggering through numerous sequels, comic book spin-offs, TV shows and video games. Say "RoboCop!" and 87% of the crooks in the neighbourhood will crap themselves in fear.

Oddly, absolutely no-one has made a film called Hobocop, but it's only a matter of time.


With the decline of the automobile industry, Motown going out of fashion and The White Stripes splitting up, RoboCop now stands as Motor City's most successful international export. 


Timecop is a nice title for a late 20th century action flick. The character himself is a TEC (Time Enforcement Commission) agent named Max Walker and his job requires him to repeatedly whizz back into the past to apprehend and beat up bad guys who want to reverse engineer history for their own selfish gain. He does this by jumping in a shuttle-shaped time machine that gets shot at a wall in a basement beneath a secret government building in Washington D.C.

In essence, Max is a civil servant in the employ of Uncle Sam but he's got shades of mindblowing science, a certain charismatic aura and a sympathy-guaranteeing personal trauma backstory to make him both interesting and likable.

After his pregnant wife was brutally murdered he responded by growing a mullet and devoting all his energies into his crimefighting career across the space/time continuum. His brooding toughness and timelessness has also been stretched across comics, a videogame and a couple of live-action spin-offs (though to them we say "Damn you if you don't have Van Damme!").


Say "Timecop, man!" and 96% of the chrono-crooks on this cosmic string will start having a panic attack. 

THEY PACKING MUCH HEAT?


RoboCop rocks a 9mm Auto-9 handgun and he's got this neat trick where he whizzes it around like a gunslinger from an old Western movie (He stole it off the TV show T.J. Lazer to impress his kid but, damn it, he made that move his own and no one remembers T.J. Lazer). He's familiar with other types of firearms and is renowned down at the police firing range as the best shot on the force.

He can't possibly miss because he's been built for perfect, 100% accurate shooting and Murphy's new programming has other combat advantages. His bulky armoured body is highly damage resistant so RoboCop can resist heavy blows, bomb blasts, extreme heat and insults from trolls on internet message boards.

In addition to thick skin (or rather, thick titanium-laced-with-Kevlar exoskeleton), OCP Crime Prevention Unit 001 has superhuman strength and, as a cyborg, a whole shock of artificial enhancements to make him even more effective as a soldier. And in spite of the fact that he's more machine than man now, he's got a sense of humour and some wicked put-downs to put down on the creeps he puts down.

Our friendly neighbourhood Timecop is packing futuristic firearms from the future (2004). Those are back-up weapons though because Walker excels in close combat in which he gets to utilise his whole stack of wham-bam-thank-you-Van-Damme martial arts moves. The kickboxing chrononaut will leave your reeling after striking you with swift feet and fists and then he'll execute a perfect split in mid-air and hold it for 10 hours.


Max Walker dances with all the beautifully brutal grace and lethal agility of Jean-Claude Van Damme to kick on in this contest.

THEIR BACK: WHO HAS IT?


In Murphy's corner is partner Officer Anne Lewis. She's an old-school tough cop whose relationship with RoboCop is one of compassionate empathy. Though he can rely on Anne, the rest of Detroit's police force leaves much to be desired and they're usually on strike so, yeah, so much for back up. Likewise, RoboCop can't trust the scientists and suits in the employ of OCP because they're all greedy rapacious capitalists who only want to exploit our hero for their own evil agendas.


When you remember that Murphy's family abandoned him when he died and was resurrected as a robot you realise that RoboCop is a lonely, vulnerable figure indeed. Still, the public loves him so much that they funded a Kickstarter campaign to get a bronze statue of him erected in Detroit. And each and every single one of 'em hollered "I'd buy that for a dollar!" as they clicked the 'Back this project' icon.

We get a feeling that the folks in the TEC are pretty indifferent to Max. His superior, Commander Eugene Mutazak, claims to be his best mate but friendship is a pretty fluid and irrelevant concept when you work for the U.S. Government.

Max's past partners have all turned out to be stooges taking pay from corrupt third parties and every time the Timecop returns to the present he finds that the dynamics of the office - even his colleagues' entire personalities and personal histories in some cases - have been altered. In total, Max can only really rely on himself and his past self though if they should touch each other both would physically merge into a gloopy mass and then melt away out of existence. Such are the hazards of time travel.

RoboCop comes top in this round because he has a reliable partner and more fan power propping him up.

NUANCES AND WHATNOT

Max Walker uses technology. Alex Murphy is technology. That's nuance.

Still, both figures are similar in that they are decent, good, hard-working men. It just so happens that the institutions they work for may not have their or the public's best interests at heart. This makes these paragons of justice slightly tragic in a way. Wouldn't it be cool if they turned in their badges, went vigilante or formed their own private detective agency? Maybe once they've had this fight they can join forces and lead a buddy cop movie or something...

They also have something else in common: a sad family situation. Both are lonely men who miss the wives and children that were cruelly taken from them in a moment of pointless, shocking violence.

Both men stand on top of subtexts about the corruption inherent in the capitalist system and the abuse of technology and institutions by those with wealth and power but you can overlook all that if you just want to get high on rollicking robo-boogie and Western martial arts. There's a reason subtext is subtext.

On to more personal details - RoboCop survives off a diet of baby food that is spoonfed to him by an underpaid underling in a white lab coat. We don't know what Max Walker likes to eat but we can guarantee that he doesn't need someone to force it down his throat. He's a grown man, not a grown mandroid infant.

Speaking of nourishment, we do know that Max likes to chew on Black Black chewing gum which is a Japanese brand. This is product placement and it's written into his lucrative contract. 



RoboCop also fronts a number of TV adverts in the Asian market and has promoted Korean fried chicken and Japanese instant noodles, among other consumer goods.


If this were a battle of commercial interests, RoboCop would win without any contest thanks to the number of times he's been replicated in action figure or commemorative model form. No one has a statue of Max Walker on their mantelpiece, a Timecop Pez dispenser or a coffee mug shaped like Jean-Claude Van Damme's head in their kitchen cupboard.

Both men are also doomed to be victims subjected to full reboot treatment. As we anticipate a future where they each come to battle their own upstart doppelganger, for now we'll let 'em clobber each other...


IT'S CLOBBERING TIME


We decided to abandon the sophisticated computer system that used to decide the outcome of fights. In a world where everything is controlled by algorithms, where everything is synced to social media and where everything is wired 24/7 we decided the truly radical thing would be to kill the computer. We killed the computer. We killed it with fire and now we feel so free. Oh, sweet Jesus we feel so, so free...




Welcome to Detroit. To be precise, welcome to an abandoned steel mill on a dilapidated industrial site/forgotten shitheap in Detroit.

In comes our hero - a hero too good for a place this bad. He is Officer Alex Murphy and he is the top cop in this dystopian disaster pisshole of a city. He's on duty and he's dropped in on this dump in response to a call from up on high. Reports say that a collection of the nastiest hoodlums in town are knocking around these parts and Murphy and Lewis have, thus, arrived in their patrol car to investigate further.

He moves stealthily with cautious poise through wreckage and rust, nimbly making his way towards the mill buildings. While Officer Anne Lewis approaches around the back, Murphy is coming at the target from the front. (She's definitely around there but you're not going to encounter her in this fight. We decided we couldn't spare the funds for Nancy Allen's appearance fee and have saved the cash for a special cameo from Kurtwood Smith as Clarence Boddicker later in this battle.)

We thus get a clear glimpse of the pair's teamwork, strategic planning and courage - all characteristics of 'real po-lice'. That said, as Murphy stalks in closer towards the hidey hole of the dirty crims he gets a weird feeling. All at once, there's an odd reverberation in the air.

A breeze breezes and strange ripples ripple right before his eyes. The effect is like the pounding of a transparent speaker and this invisible beating booms like a horizontal puddle-splash in mid-air before spitting out something.

The something is Max Walker. He flies out of the vague portal and rolls across the dirty ground, luckily enough missing any discarded lumps of scrap metal or junked machinery.

It's a pretty hard landing and he gets a few mud stains on his TEC uniform. He sighs an unimpressed sigh then swiftly pulls himself together and hops up onto his feet.

Close enough to touch, eyeball to eyeball, the pair face each other.

"Ah," utters Walker. "Alex J. Murphy, I presume?"

Murphy is quite taken aback, and that's perfectly reasonable considering that a man with a mullet has just appeared out of nowhere and addressed him by his full name.

"What?" he asks, uncertain and on edge. "Who? What is this?"

Streaks of uncertainty shoot through his nervous system and his training and self-preservation instincts kick in. He reaches for his gun but before he has chance to draw and do that trademark twirly-fingers thing, Walker has struck.

Several left sidekicks and a swift footstomp to his femur stop Murphy in his tracks. "Ah ah ah," tuts the Timecop. "Do not try it. Now, please listen to me..."

But the local police officer doesn't want to listen to men who won't let him draw his weapon so he starts up and attempts to fight back. Murphy, here, makes a terrible mistake.

Walker blocks all the punches and grabs that assail him and responds with a series of punishing blows to Murphy's torso. As the confused cop reels the chrononaut leaps up and executes a perfect set of splits across two broken steel beams.

Murphy is agog but goes again to tackle the new arrival. "Oh, Murphy, please sit down," remarks Walker coolly, and with an agile leap he takes to the air and comes down on his opponent with a footslap to the face. Murphy drops to the floor, knocked out unconscious.

***

When he wakes he sees a blurry shape standing over him. It's the same guy - that inexplicable martial artist who appeared out of nowhere and gave him a helluva beating.

"Ah, Murphy! Welcome back," the figure cries out cheerily. As Murphy's hazy vision comes back into focus he sees that the stranger is smiling widely.

"Whu? Wha? Who?" struggles the battered cop, his senses woozy and his jaw sore after the thunder footslap.

"Don't worry," interrupts the mysterious mullet of mirth. "Everything will be absolutely fine. I apologise for the rough treatment but it was for your own good. Now, look at this..."

Walker reaches down and yanks up a body. It is the body of twisted über-villain Clarence Boddicker and it has been beaten to a pulp and is dripping with blood.

(It's actually a prosthetic likeness. We decided we couldn't afford to pay Kurtwood Smith's appearance fee either and spent a smaller sum on some make-up and handcrafted special effects.)

"For you, Murphy. This is for you." And then Walker punches the half-dead crook's face repeatedly until it looks like the inside of a pomegranate. With a glint in his eye he finishes up with a euphoric howl of "Can you fly, Bobby?" and lobs Boddicker into a stream of waste that winds its way out from the mill. In all the flowing shit, acid and toxic atrocity the body (prosthetic lump) corrodes and quickly melts away into nothingness.

Walker turns back to Murphy, clapping his hands off at a job well done. "Well, my friend Murphy. It's all over. You're safe. Now please, go home to your family. Cherish them. Live a good life. Be happy and count your blessings..."

In a flash he's kicked out and has his right foot hovering an inch from Murphy's face. He is just doing this because he can and because he wants to show off. He chuckles to himself, smiles amiably at the dumbstruck Detroit lawman and relaxes back to a resting stance.

The enigmatic stranger who appeared out of nowhere then pulls a clunky console out of his jacket and pounds an oversized red button. He vanishes and Murphy is left alone.

The cop blinks, totally clueless as to what the hell just happened. He struggles to his feet and takes few deep breaths. He goes to radio Lewis to arrange a rendezvous while simultaneously deciding that what he wants to most of all is get home to his wife and son ASAP.

He feels like he's having some kind of epiphany. He doesn't know what it means but he's got a sense that he's had a lucky escape today.

The bewilderment staggers him but he knows one thing for sure. It's good to be alive...

***

A short while later in the far future Walker sweeps through the corridors of TEC headquarters beneath Washington D.C. There's a spring in his step and a contented grin on his usually glum visage.

He walks into the main office and encounters his boss-cum-best-buddy Commander Mutazak. Mutazak is looking a little morose and stressed today.

"Ah, Max." he pipes up upon seeing the man who is probably his best agent "Successful assignment?"

Walker lights up and responds, "Yes, successful. I think it's fair to say I won."

Mutazak frowns. "You won? Won what?"

"RoboCop vs. Timecop," Max replies with affected grandeur, drawing out an imaginary marquee billboard in mid-air as he spells it out for the perplexed Commander. "I saved Alex Murphy's life. He didn't get killed by thugs. RoboCop never existed so I guess that means that in pitched clash between RoboCop and Timecop, I come out as the winner."

He places his fists on his hips and adopts the power stance of a victorious champion.

It means nothing to Mutazak. He chuckles and shrugs. "Y'know Max, you're an odd guy. Now, hey back to work..."

Walker sighs and drops the pose, returning to his standard look of brooding world-weariness.

"C'mon, work to do, 'cause there's a Senator coming to visit later. We gotta prove we're worth the funds they pump into us before they shut us down." continues the Commander. "Let's get at it, and I don't wanna hear any crazy talk of 'RoboCop vs Timecop' or 'Superman vs Batman' or whatever..."

Mutazak pulls a sudden disgusted face, winces and in a flurry paces out of the room muttering "Goddam Batfleck!" under his breath.

Deflated, Max Walker moves towards his cubicle and takes a seat. He pulls open his desk drawer - a drawer where he keeps a secret stash of vintage action figures he would have given to his son had he not been blown up on that awful night of tragedy a long time ago...

Where once there was a RoboCop figurine there is now only empty space. Bittersweet, thinks Walker as his eyes rove across an array of colourful plastic miniatures.

Then he sees the iconic shape of a certain caped crusader. Walker meditates on the action figure a moment. He hears the echoing grumbles of his boss in his inner ear. He thinks about origin stories, muses on the way that lives are shaped by devastating events and starts to imagine, "Hurm, what if?"


Soon vague ideas coalesce and he comes to a determined plan. Without hesitation he heads out of the offices straight for the time-shuttle. His destination: the back alley behind a theatre in Gotham City, on an ominous evening a long, long time ago...

AND THE WINNER IS...

  

TIMECOP


FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! will return in:

"I'D FIGHT THAT FOR A DOLLAR

If you have any suggestions for who you'd like to see square go each other in future FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! articles, please mention them below.

If you wish to take issue with our verdict, please post a well-informed and reasoned explanation as to why below, as is the style of the internet.

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