The cover: Standing among the fallen remains of several Terminators, John Connor shakes hands with Marcus Wright. The time bubble of energy expands behind them, foreshadowing that one of them is going to go back in time, but which one is going? Below this image is the subtitle, “Hope For the Future…Means Sacrifice In the Past!” Who’s going to be sacrificed? Great text tease and great image to get readers into this issue from artist Pete Woods and colorist Matthew Wilson. I love how one machine’s hand in the bottom right corner seems to be striving to strike out even in death. Great use of color, with the white highlighting objects in blue. Overall grade: A
The story: The beauty, and curse, of the Terminator franchise is the timing of events. This issue, written by J. Michael Straczynski, is a great example questioning time being fluid or locked. The issue opens in the future with John Connor telling Marcus Wright that he’s been prepared for death his entire life. He knows, according to what he’s been told of the future, that he saves the human race in the final battle against the machines but dies doing so. Now he feels as if he has a reprieve from death. He is planning to go into the past and kill serial killer Thomas Parnell so he can never be reawakened in the future as a Terminator, thus saving humanity from its fate. What could possibly go wrong? Parnell is speaking with Skynet’s mind, telling it that he will be in charge from now on, and he connects himself into its system so that he can read the AI’s mind. He then discovers that in his past when he was being chased by one man that individual was actually sent from the future (his current present) to go back and kill him. This infuriates him, saying, “Well, I’m going to deal with this…I’m going to finish them–And then I’m coming for you…and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.” The story then goes back to the future (sorry, couldn’t resist saying that) and things get tense. There is a great chase ending with a great iconic image at the bottom of 13. In the future things take an unexpected turn, but that’s the way it should be. This films have shown time to be unchangeable and what makes this comic interesting is that small chance that it can be swerved in a new direction. Will that happen ultimately? Only time will tell in four more issues. Overall grade: A+
The art: Always impressing is Pete Woods art. For this tale he’s got to be able to illustrate the future and the past successfully. If one looks better or worse than the other this entire project crumbles. There’s no chance of that happening because this book is solid in any setting. The future is an industrial complex, but just different enough to seem to be a possible future and not the over-shaping of Hollywood. It’s the little details that make this future so believable, such as Skynet’s face or the way in which Parnell interfaces with the synthetic mind. The present is also amazing. Again in this series Woods has to draw a car chase. This is comic book poison for most artists, but Woods makes it seem easy. There is more than one vehicle involved in this sequence and the stunts would cost a hefty fee to put on film. It is truly impressive to see this much motion carried out so seamlessly on paper. Pages 16 – 18 are also impressive for the minimal amount of text needed to tell the story; they rely on Woods’s ability to show the reader what’s going on and he does so amazingly. This book looks great. Overall grade: A+
The colors: The scenes in the future are set within industrial buildings with little lighting and the scenes in 2003 are set at night. Matthew Wilson has every reason to put this book in darkness. But he doesn’t do so and the book is all the better for it. The first two pages are dark in grey and black, but not so much that the art becomes a blobbed mess. In fact, at the bottom of Page 2 a door is open and the light is extremely bright, and when the dialogue is spoken readers will understand there’s a change because a new possibility has appeared. The reds used for Skynet and the Terminators’ eyes are terrific hallmarks of danger that electrify any scene they appear in. The car chase is dim, but every vehicle and character is clearly seen, and when color does appear it lights up the night. This is a perfectly colored book. Overall grade: A+
The letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot provides dialogue, Skynet speech, and several key sound effects in this issue. There are no missteps in his labors. Overall grade: A+
The final line: This should be a guidebook on how to write an original story while preserving all that’s gone before. It wraps and winds it way around readers as if it were liquid metal. The visuals expertly show a horrific future and a finely detailed past where battles are fought. This is must reading. Overall grade: A+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.