Terminator


The fifth and final story in the second omnibus.

Script: Alan Grant
Art: Mel Ruby
Original publication: apparently a four part limited series in 1999.
Terminator Omnibus vol. 2 publication year: 2008
Publisher: Dark Horse

In 2030 in ruined Los Angeles, a Resistance cell is trying to survive. One of the members is Jon Norden who is an ecologist and owns a dog named Jez. The leader of the cell is Walker who doesn’t like Norden at all. Terminators attack and the cell is forced to blow out their current hideout. When they flee in the sewers towards the next safe place, the dog Jez finds a rat which has mechanical innards. Walker decides to take the mechanical rat to Connor himself. He wants to take the dog with him and so he has to take Norden as well. Together, they rescue a girl whom they take with them to Connor.

It’s 1999 and New Year’s Eve. Sarah and John Connor are in the middle of a celebrating crowd in Los Angeles. Suddenly, a Terminator appears from the future and promptly kills a cop and takes his clothing and gun. He finds Sarah and starts shooting. The Connors try to flee but the machine is relentless.

The story alternates quickly between 2030 and 1999 especially in running or fighting scenes which makes it a bit hard to follow. Often there’s only one or two pages until the scene shifts to the past or the future. There’s some character development but like most of the other Terminator comics, it’s centered on action. However, the body count isn’t as high as in the other comics and this time we even get to see John Connor in action in addition to seeing the 1999 Sarah and John Connor.

However, I was pretty surprised that the cell has only one dog which is trained to smell machines. Surely, they are so useful that there should be more of them. Also, the comic’s name seems a bit inappropriate to me and set different expectations; it cover only a few hours in both the past and the future.

The Terminator in the past is very persistent and hard to kill. He also kills other people indiscriminately in order to get the Connors. However, the Terminators in the future seem to be pretty easy to kill with either a single bomb or some gun fire. Of course, the Resistance probably has better guns.

The artist Mel Ruby has two different inkers. Ruby has a somewhat exaggerated style but it’s not a problem at first with Andrew Pepoy. However, the latter inker Christopher Ivy exaggerates it even more so that it looks comical and cartoony to my eyes. Unfortunately, this style wasn’t really compatible with the grim Terminator world and the dramatic events in the latter half of the story.

For me, this second omnibus was better because it has a wider range of stories than the first omnibus. However, I’d still recommend them only to Terminator fans.

The fourth story in the second omnibus.

Script: Alan Grant
Art: Guy Davis, Steve Pugh
Original publication: apparently a two-part limited series in 1998
Terminator Omnibus vol. 2 publication year: 2008
Publisher: Dark Horse

The story starts in 2029 when a small Resistance group ambushes a moving comm tower. However, a Terminator kills all but one of them. The survivor is interrogated and he reveals enough information that Skynet is able to send two Terminators, a man and a woman, to the past, to the Death Valley in 1998.

In 1998, a one-eyed ex-cop is on the trail of a group of Satan worshipers whose camp is in an abandoned mine in the Death Valley. The ex-cop had been hired to find a girl that the group has supposedly kidnapped. He finds the group but the girl seems the be there willingly. That point becomes moot, however, when two naked people assault the group. They ask about Sarah and John Connor and the group’s leader, called Killerman, claims to know them. The Terminators consider the rest irrelevant and start to shoot them. However, Killerman manages to blow up the mine and escape. The Terminators follow him again killing everyone who gets in their way. Later, the ex-cop (whose name we get to know much later) manages to dig himself out of the rubble. Then he starts after the Terminators.

Nearby, ecological scientist Ken Norden is trying to teach his son Jon about the nature surrounding them. Unfortunately, Jon is more interested in his GameBoy. When they get home, Ken’s wife Sara confronts him. She’s tired of the isolation and wants to get back to San Francisco. Unfortunately for Ken, his day is about to get much worse.

This is perhaps the most complex of the Terminator comics I’ve read so far. The Terminators, the Nordens, Killerman, and the ex-cop all have their own story lines even though they intersect. We also get to see Sarah Connor working as a maid in one of the Death Valley hotels. There’s also an additional storyline about a man who is working on defense robots for the military.

The male Terminator arrived a little later than the female one, and he starts show quite unTerminator like behavior, such as asking if the Terminators are live, like humans are. He also tries to stop the female from killing a wounded human.

Killerman has the most straight forward story; he’s just trying to survive. Unfortunately, he thinks that he can reason with the machines even after he saw the way that they slaughtered his followers.

The ex-cop has the most flimsy excuse for staying in the story. After he just barely survived the shooting, he really should have gone away and thanked his lucky stars. But in the middle of the fight, he accidentally shot the girl he was supposed to get away from the Satan worshipers. He blamed the Terminators and wants to make them pay. He also has horrible nightmares about being caged.

There are also secondary characters, such as the fat woman sheriff, who round out the cast in way that’s not typical to (mainstream US) comics.

One of the best ones so far.

Davis is the first artist and he’s style is somewhat sketchy but I felt that is suited the scenes at the start: the fight in the future, the interrogation, and the shoot-out with the Terminators. The machines were also naked during that time but Davis didn’t make that detailed at all, which was great. Pugh has far more detailed style.

The third story in the second omnibus.

Script: Alan Grant
Art: Frank Teran
Original publication: Dark Horse Presents issue 138.
Terminator Omnibus vol. 2 publication year: 2008
Publisher: Dark Horse

This one is short, only about ten pages, but good. It shows the desperate things humans are forced to do in order to survive.

Skynet has built a data control tower which is turning out to be very efficient in pinpointing Resistance fighters. A small group of humans have been sent to put it out of business. The closer they get to the tower, the more of the people die from various automated guns, traps, and a Terminator.

The narrator is a young girl who is carried by one of the men. She’s really scared and has earphones that play music to her so she doesn’t have the hear how men who are childhood friends are dying. The men wear gas masks so they are even more faceless than usual.

Short and poignant.

The second story in the second omnibus. It concludes the stories in the first omnibus: Tempest, Secondary objectives, and the Enemy Within.

Script: James Robinson
Art: Jackson Guice
Original publication year: 1999 as a limited series. Terminator Omnibus vol. 2 publication year: 2008
Publisher: Dark Horse

At the end of Enemy Within, Lockhurst got his greedy little paws on a disk full of Terminator data and he’s still determined to make money off it, the future be damned. Detective Sloane is trying to get Lockhurst to see reason, but doesn’t succeed. So, Sloane just shoots him. And just to be sure, Colonel Mary Randall blows up the building where the disk and the Terminator bits are. Then Sloane says that he doesn’t want to see Mary ever again and walks away.

Unfortunately, things aren’t that easy. A couple of months later, Sloane is on the trail of a serial killer called Catfish. He murders young women brutally and the police don’t have a clue. Also, Sloane is seeing a therapist because he’s haunted by what he knows about the future. The therapist doesn’t believe him, of course, but doesn’t say anything to the detective.

Meanwhile Mary is trying to survive in the modern world. It’s pretty hard because she doesn’t have papers or social security number, and apparently don’t have enough money to get fake ones. She’s starting to resent her life. Then, the Terminator/human cyborg Dudley contacts her. She’s been trying to contact him for months and it turns out that Dudley is losing his battle against the Terminator circuitry. However, Dudley knows that another Terminator has arrived from the past because he contacted Dudley’s Terminator half. Apparently, their efforts so far have change the time line but Skynet was able to send one more Terminator to kill Sarah Connor while she’s giving birth. Dudley begs Mary to help Connor. He can’t trust himself anymore. Randall agrees. She contacts Sloane and they head to the Texas hospital where Connor is supposed to be.

This story is again quite violent. The Terminator kills a lot of people first on his way to Texas and then at the hospital. There’s also a secondary storyline with the Catfish and I’m not certain what that’s supposed to do. Perhaps it mirrors human evil (or rather insanity) against computer programming? Or that maybe all humans aren’t worth saving for? It felt very weird and disconnected to me despite the ending.

Both Sloane and Randall are very much human here, with their own doubts and fears but soon enough they are caught in the middle of fighting.

The end is quite interesting. It establishes this story as an alternate time line and also manages to violate pretty much every time travel logic I’ve encountered (disclaimer: if time travel exists for real it doesn’t have to obey any puny human logic ;)).

The story ends appropriately enough with “Never the end”.

The first story in the Terminator Omnibus vol. 2. It has five stories and I’ll review them individually.

Script: Toren Smith, Adam Warren, Chris Warner
Art: Bill Jaaska
Original publication year: 1992 as a limited series
Terminator Omnibus vol. 2 publication year: 2008
Publisher: Dark Horse

Eastern Siberia, 2029. A small group of humans have managed to escape from the labor camps and are escorted to the local refugee camp. The three escapees are a family and one of the refugees knew them. Unfortunately, as soon as the group gets into the hiding place and pets the dogs, they start shooting. Only the lucky intervention of a Russian elite commandos, the Spetznaz, saves the survivors. MIR has developed a new form of Terminator: one that has so sophisticated human skin and muscles that even the dogs can’t differentiate them from humans. They also seem to have the memories of the humans they are mimicking. The humans don’t know anymore who they can trust.

After Skynet became self aware and launched missiles against humanity, it turned towards another supercomputer. This was the Russian MIR. Skynet gave it, too, awareness and it joined Skynet in the fight against humanity. However, Skynet doesn’t trust MIR and has built in fail safes and is monitoring the Russian AI. MIR resents that and has plans of its own. MIR is nine months late in the development of the new Terminator and Skynet has sent its own troops to check in on the progress. MIR has no intention of giving Skynet the best Terminator it has developed so far: the copy of the Spetznaz captain.

Meanwhile, one of the commandos notices that the Terminators left one human alive. The human turns out to be Anatoly Golytsyn, a former KGB agent. The commandos realize that he could have important information and lead him to their base. There, the leaders reveal that they have a plan to destroy MIR but it will need Golystyn’s expertise.

Only two of the commandos have any personality and names: the leader of the group Captain Sergey Pavlichenko and Sargent Larisa Bandera, who seems to be the only woman in the group. Bandera is very hostile towards Golytsyn whom she suspects is partly responsible for killing her parents before the machine war started. After the team sees the improved Terminators, she also strongly suspects that Golytsyn is a Terminator. She says so repeatedly to the Captain who disagrees.

The Captain seems to be a pretty straight forward good guy: cares for his team and mission, and hates Terminators. Later, he does worry that a new world, after the victory from the machines, wouldn’t have any place for a soldier like him. He was captured sometime earlier and was tortured in the camps.

Golytsyn complains about his treatment and about everything else, too. He’s snarky towards Bandera and even goads her to kill him.

When we first see the commando team, its objective is to find the refugee cell and train the people to fight for themselves. This is actually the first time I’ve seen this done but its a really good and necessary idea. How else are they going to get more soldiers?

This story is also pretty bloody but this time the characters are pretty good. Bandera can’t give up on her old hate of Golytsyn and he verbally bates her. She’s also worried about the whole mission and even about her Captain. After all, who can they trust anymore? The Captain was her lover but when she starts to wonder if he’s a Terminator, too, she’s willing to kill him. (Take note, Terminator Salvation writers!)

The Terminators talk to each other again through a computer interface without a need to speak out aloud. The Skynet machines make some pointed comments about how MIR has let them down repeatedly and how MIR technology is inferior. Clearly, Skynet’s programmers gave the AI some of their prejudices.

The best Terminator comic so far!

The fourth and final story in the Terminator Omnibus vol. 1.

Script: Ian Edginton
Art: Vince Giarrano
Original publication year: 1992 (I think) as a limited series
Terminator Omnibus vol. 1 publication year: 2008
Publisher: Dark Horse

This story continues the story lines from Tempest and Secondary Objectives.

The small resistance cell is in trouble. It now has only three people in it: Colonel Mary Randall from the future, Dudley a man who has been rebuilt as a cyborg, and modern day scientist Ed Astin. Unfortunately, things don’t look good for our heroes. Astin has developed a crush on Mary who is trying to be supportive of Dudley’s mental fight against Skynet’s orders. So, Astin in jealous. When Dudley decided that the only thing that’s going to help him is brain surgery, Astin volunteers to do it (by the way, Astin seems to have a doctorate on mechanics, not medicine but a doctor’s a doctor, right?). However, Astin has bigger plans for the information in Dudley’s brain.

Meanwhile, L. A. D. P. detective Sloane start to investigate the head of Cyberdyne, Hollister. Then he gets a phone call from the FBI who are apparently also interested in Hollister. Sloane starts to shadow him.

The surviving Terminator makes repairs and heads for Hollister, too.

In 2029, Mary’s back-up team arrives to Skynet’s installation and realizes that the time machine is still operational. They think that Mary’s team failed to do their jobs and another four soldiers are sent back in time after they rig up explosives on a timer to destroy the platform.

This time the story has a lot of plot line which come together well. While there are several pages of the Terminator just shooting people, lots of other things happen, as well. However, there’s something weird going on with the Terminator’s artwork. When he gets his spare parts, he also get horns. First they are shown in brown color as if they are made of wood but they, too, get the metal shine very quickly. Then, near the end, when the Terminator puts on a disguise, the horns just disappear. Like I said, weird.

Both Dudley and Mary are shown in more human light, so the speak, and not just almost-faceless soldiers. Although, I have a hard time in believing that Mary made it to colonel and hasn’t even once encountered infighting or jealousy, romantic or professional or hell, even hording food, among her soldiers. Clearly, she has no training to spot that. Even after Astin betrays them, she has no idea that he was jealous of her.

Almost all of the storylines are wrapped up this time but the final story is apparently in the next omnibus.

The third story out of four in the Terminator Omnibus vol. 1.

Script: James Robinson
Art: Paul Gulacy
Original publication year: 1991 (I think.) as a limited series
Terminator Omnibus vol. 1 publication year: 2008
Publisher: Dark Horse

This story continues the Terminator: Tempest story. 47 hours after the four Terminators and the scientist travel back in time, another Terminator is put on-line and sent after them. This one has also a female body. However, she emerges in the middle of the sea and has to walk to US soil which takes a while.

The one Terminator which survived the previous story continues his mission. He takes out a gang to get their weapons and when the police get involved, he slaughters them as well. This gets televised and the the small, surviving human group from the past (plus a modern day scientist) realizes that the Terminator is going to go after Sarah Connor. Therefore, the soldiers have to get to her first. Apparently, they know that she’s hiding in a desert near Mexico and they travel to Mexico City.

Meanwhile, L.A detective Mark Sloane sees the metal skeleton on the Terminator. He can’t stop the machine but later he’s determined to find out where it came from. Also, the director of Cyberdyne has gotten his hands on a Terminator skull.

Much like in the Tempest, this story focuses on Terminators bringing bloody death to humans. The whole storyline with the female Terminator is pretty pointless, though. It just seemed like an excuse to show nude and semi-nude women.

The fight between the Terminator and the police near the start was very bloody. Most of it focuses on a reporter on the scene who concentrates on getting good photos of the dying cops. This highlighted how merciless humans can be, too. We also got a little bit of background for Colonel Mary Randall but it didn’t contain any surprises. Unfortunately it also seems that a romance (triangle?) is rearing up it’s ugly head. Perhaps the most interesting character in the story was the human who was made Terminator and who now has to fight against his programming.

The plot lines with the detective and the head of Cyberdyne weren’t resolved.

I can’t help but to compare this one to Sarah Connor Chronicles and I have to wonder if the series writers have read the comic. After all, Sarah and her crew went to Mexico and fought a Terminator there. The detective almost seems like a proto-Ellison.

Still heavy on the fighting and pretty light on anything else.

Next Page »