Saturday, May 5, 2012
Terminator: 2029-1984 (comics)
Artist: Andy MacDonald
Collects: Terminator 2029 #1-3, Terminator 1984 #1-3
I may have mentioned before that Dark Horse are pretty much the kings of the licensed comic. Well, here's more proof. Dancing in the raindrops of the films - hell, the second half takes place directly after the first one - we get another winner from a company that knows what's up with this kind of thing. Other entertainment mediums may struggle with the licensed product, but Dark Horse makes it look simple.
What we get here is a two part story spanning the advertised time periods. We follow Ben, a new character to the franchise, as he struggles to survive in the hellish future alongside the woman he loves and Kyle Reese. Things get wonky when they rescue an old man who claims he is also Kyle Reese; only thing is, he claims to be Kyle after he'd been sent back in time. But that couldn't be true; Kyle died in the first film, didn't he? Sure, Ben wouldn't know that, but we would. Things turn out to be more complicated than we thought and it isn't long before Ben himself travels to the past to save Kyle, Sarah Conner and the future.
The best compliment I can give is that Zack Whedon immediately sets about making us care about Ben - a character we have no pre-existing attachment to like we do Reese or the Connors - and succeeds quite handily. It's easy to buy into Bens life and struggles, not to mention his ultimate reason for going back in time. By the end of the book, I'm ready to continue on with whatever awaits him in the future, which is, of course, a win, I'd say.
The cherry on top is that the first half of the book allows us to stay in the future for a while. One thing I always wanted from the franchise is more of the future we only glimpsed in the first two films; Salvation, of course, doesn't count because that movie was a colossal failure. Only on occasion would we get a real glimpse into the lives of the resistance; one of the few times I can recall offhand happened in another winner from Dark Horse, Robocop vs Terminator*.
The book admittedly plays fast and loose with the aspects of time travel, which I imagine will be a turn-off for some. By the end of the book, we seem to have steered clear of the road that would take us into the events of T2. But to be fair, the franchise has always played along these lines; "no fate but what we make" and all that. Hell, most of Robocop vs Terminator was about the guy with top billing changing the future. If you don't think about it a great deal, it works fine. But if you're a stickler for it "making sense", well... you probably should just stick with the first film, but regardless, this probably won't work for you.
If there's a downside to this book, it's that I don't really understand the thought process behind a move late in the book. This comic spends a fair amount of time putting a particular toy back into play, only to shove it right back in the toybox by the end. I suppose it's possible Whedon is merely moving the pieces into place in case he doesn't want to contradict the second film, but I'd rather he just gone full bore with it, or at least kept this piece in play for now.
Other than that, the only thing particularly wrong with this book is that there's no more available right now and no word on a continuation.
The Score: 8.5 out of 10
I really enjoyed this one. Easily the best Terminator comic I've read thus far that wasn't a crossover. I hope more Terminator from Whedon is in our future, but for now this is a rock solid entry in the franchise. Well worth owning if you're a Terminator fan; if you're not, then yeah, don't buy it, but in that case what are you doing reading a Terminator review in the first place?
* I don't really get what is stopping a trade paperback of the original Robocop vs Terminator miniseries from happening. It seems Dark Horse has the rights to both again. Hell, they just did a new RvsT crossover which has its own trade coming. I'm pretty sure a collection of a Robocop and Terminator crossover by Frank Miller and Walt Simonson would sell more than enough to make the endeavor worth it. Am I missing something here?