Brisson Takes "RoboCop" Into "Beta"

BOOM! Studios is in the RoboCop business and business is good. In addition to "RoboCop: Last Stand" -- Steven Grant's adaptation of Frank Miller's "RoboCop 3" script -- the company also plans to publish four one-shots set in the world of Jose Padilha's upcoming "RoboCop" remake starring Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earl Haley, Jay Baruchel and Samuel L. Jackson.

To further explore the re-imagined universe set to debut on the big screen Feb. 12, 2014, BOOM! Studios recruited a group of writers and artists to create four one-shots, each fleshing out a different corner of Robo's brave new world. February will see a new issue hit each week starting on Feb. 2 with Ed Brisson and Emilio Laiso's "RoboCop: Beta."

Brisson, who writes "Sheltered" at Image Comics and also letters books like "Prophet," "Peter Panzerfaust" and "Rat Queens," jumped over to BOOM! for the opportunity to write a story starring this new version of a long-time favorite character in "RoboCop: Beta." He's joined by "Hoax Hunters" and "Homecoming" artist Laiso on the issue.

Instead of delving too deeply into the new version of Alex Murphy, though, Brisson and Laiso's "RoboCop: Beta" focuses on the very first RoboCop test subject experimented on by Dr. Norton, as played by Gary Oldman in the film. CBR News spoke with the writer about his history with the character, adjusting to this new version of RoboCop and writing characters based on famous actors.

CBR News: Ed, what was your experience with "RoboCop" coming onto "RoboCop: Beta?"

Ed Brisson: The original "RoboCop" is one of my all-time favorite films. I can't even begin to count how many times I've watched it. So, when I was offered the chance to write the comic, it was an easy yes for me. It was a hell yes!

BOOM! editor Eric Harburn and I have been talking for some time about me doing something over there. RoboCop was something that he'd asked if I would have any interest in writing, which, yeah.

Since you were such a fan of the original, was it difficult working on a different version of the character?

Not really. The version of the RoboCop that I'm using is one entirely of my own invention, so I got to create this dude who will now be part of RoboCop canon, so that was pretty cool.

"RoboCop: Beta" revolves around the first guy Dr. Norton tried to turn into RoboCop. From a story perspective, why is it important to explore this previous effort?

"Beta" primarily focuses on what is the first RoboCop prototype, created during war time in order to prove the technology. For me, I think that there's a lot of exploring to do there. How someone else reacts to waking to find himself half machine and what sort of baggage they bring to the whole experience. They're still in the testing phase, trying to find that balance between man and machine. This process informs a lot of the criteria that comes in to place when they move on later to create the film "RoboCop." It's interesting to me to look at what went wrong in order to perfect the tech.

It sounds like Dr. Norton plays pretty heavily into your story. When you wrote him, did you picture Gary Oldman or hear his voice in your head?

It's hard to get away from that, for sure. Mostly, I was just trying to make sure that the character rang true to the version in the film script.

Do any other characters from the new film come into play in your issue?

The already mentioned Dr. Norton and Raymond Sellars [as played by Michael Keaton], who is basically running OmniCorp. The issue takes place in the middle of an ongoing war in Iran, most of the characters from the film aren't there.

When working on a project like "RoboCop: Beta," what kind of access did you have to the movie? Were you able to look at a script, clips or anything like that?

I've read the script and seen stills from the film, but have not seen the film itself. Looking forward to it though.

If I'm being perfectly honest, I was pretty skeptical when I first heard about the remake. Why mess with a classic? But, after seeing the trailers, and having read the script, I'm really looking forward to it.

Was there any interaction with the writers of the other books to hash out what areas of the world each of you would write about?

I think that we all knew what the others were doing, but there was no real direct interaction beyond that. However, I know Frank [J. Barbiere] and Michael [Moreci] pretty well, so we talked amongst ourselves about what we were doing.

What were the advantages and challenges of working the one-shot format?

I often miss comics that tell an entire story in one issue. As a kid, I could pick up any comic and usually not have to worry that it was part 8 of 12 or some such nonsense. I think that new readers today don't get that -- the ability to just jump in at any point. So, it's cool to do a bit of a return to that. 

As for writing something like that, it's tough. You really have to shave the story down to the essentials and find an interesting story in that zone. It's not easy to invest a reader in only 22 pages. But, I've done a lot of shorter comics in the past, so am hoping that I've been able to pull it off.

What other projects do you currently have in the pipeline?

I'm writing "Sheltered" at Image. It's a "pre-apocalyptic" story that Johnnie Christmas and I created together. That's been going well and taking up a lot of my time. I also have a new Image book that will be coming up in April, but hasn't been announced yet. I also just finished writing an "X-Files/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" one-shot for IDW that should be out in February. On top of that, I've got a lot of plates spinning, including more at BOOM!, but nothing that I can talk about just yet.

"Robocop: Beta" #1 by Ed Brisson, Emilio Laiso and BOOM! Studios hits on Feb. 5. Stay tuned to CBR for interviews with the other "RoboCop" one-shots writers.

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