Thursday, August 28, 2014

CBR:Quickies Terminator (Dynamite)

Robots!! Post-apocalyptic setting!! Time travel! Uncle Bob? Giant robot dogs??

It's yet another Dynamite Entertainment-style silly comic book adaptation, isn't it?

Following the classic run of Terminator books at NOW Comics in the late 1990s and the Dark Horse Comics ones through the 1990s, several other publishing companies were able to secure the rights for a couple of direct "movie adaptations". Marvel Comics first produced a T2 tie-in, but then also followed some more issues from Malibu Comics and Beckett Comics.

Finally in 2007, Dynamite Entertainment bought the Terminator license, along the rights to the RoboCop franchises. No doubt for the sole purpose to release a brand new crossover between these two iconic fan-beloved robotic Hollywood blockbuster series..

What they did first was release a couple of Terminator mini-series, as well as some odd crossovers here and there. Including a strange crossover with Painkiller Jane and their new infamous take on the classic RoboCop Vs. Terminator which they only did much later shortly before losing the rights to both characters in 2011.

For this new batch of Terminator comics, they wanted to ditch all the alternate-reality and time traveling from the Dark Horse series, instead focusing on and trying to recapture the same post-Judgement Day military squadron appeal from the original NOW Comics Terminator series. And instead of following an old grey-haired aged John Connor like in Alex Ross' classic painted book Terminator: The Burning Earth, this series would go back in an earlier point in the timeline, picking up with a much younger John immediately following the beginning of the Rise of the Machines...

Comic title: Terminator Vol.1: Infinity or just Terminator: Infinity originally known as Terminator 2: Infinity
Written by Simon Furman
Art by Nigel Raynor
Format: Trade paperback collecting the mini-series Terminator 2: Infinity #1-5.

Let's start from the beginning with Terminator: Infinity first, originally known as "Terminator 2: Infinity". Despite the original title, the story actually picks up right after the events of Rise of the Machines.

It begins in the year 2033. SkyNet is finally about to be defeated for good. The Resistance was able to overcome the machines thanks to all the times they were able to thwart SkyNet's schemes through time. But the SkyNet core remains still intact somewhere else, hidden from the view, nowhere to be located on Earth. The true coordinates were never found... SkyNet devises a last plan to counteract John Connor's Human Resistance. To help secure a better timeline in which the AI was able to achieve a better balance in its favor, it has been running several simulations around several possible time anomalies. Once located, SkyNet sends a prototype of a machine able to achieve time travel on its own, fully equipped with its own time displacement equipment - the T-Infinity Temporal Terminator.

Then the story jumps back to 2009. Due to all the time disruptions, things are starting to escape John Connor and the future is turning out to be different from how it was supposed to play out. After the death Kate Brewster, who was supposed to become his wife and his second in command (and somehow died too early in this timeline), John finally decided to venture outside the Crystal Peak bunker (where he was left in at the end of T3). It's time to look for the rest of mankind. John decides to go back to Los Angeles in order to form the Human Resistance (although, without Kate to aid him to do so). The first Terminators units have been wiping out the remnants of mankind, sending flying HK drones units to do the hard work.

John meets this Terminator that was sent to look for him... by himself from a later point in time (at this point in the franchise, you just go "because, why not?!"). John dubs him "Uncle Bob". Uncle Bob was sent to help him become the leader he needs to be.

Both of them are able to contact a small number of surviving humans.

When suddenly the T-Infinity appears out of nowhere and locates this young-ysh John Connor on his way to form a Resistance. Bob helps the humans, building futuristic weapons in advance to bring the fight to the machines on equal ground.

They find an abandoned radio station and leave a signal there for other humans.

The soldiers discover Uncle Bob was a machine all along, and a new kind of "Terminator" Infiltrator model! They want to destroy him, but Bob proves himself to be a much needed help.

John gets closer to this ex-marine, named Tara Holden. They meet up with more group of soldiers, as they band together and their number only grows stronger.

T-Infinity sets its sight on the reprogrammed time traveling unit, and finally destroys Uncle Bob. One anomaly down.

John Connor is now left alone, all by himself... He is starting to crack under the pressure... This whole "destiny thing" is just to big for him... But he is not alone. The Resistance lives!

They decide to destroy a key SkyNet factory before it is able to produce the Terminators they might have to deal with soon. They face the newly produced HK-Tanks.

In the end, our human protagonists gather back at the station. Turns out lots people heard John's homing signal.

The timeline is still corrupted. But it can still be fixed. Despite John Connor's best attempts, the T-Infinity was able to get rid of Uncle Bob. It now has sets its sight on a certain "Tara Connor", and jumps to 2015....

Overall: It's okay. The problem with the franchise, is that so much has already been done and explored in the past, in the many films, video games or comics. And this book is no different.

The series is at its best when it follows a young John Connor in this post-apocalyptic setting, having to deal with his destiny to form the Human Resistance. The rest is kinda... meh.

Creator Simon Furman tried his best to come back to some simpler narratives... but kinda lose himself in his best picture.

This 2007 5-issue mini-series was originally titled "Terminator 2: Infinity", after that it was announced it would become a regular on-going series, simply retitled "Terminator 2" in 2008 (despite not having a thing to do with T2), when it crossed over with Painkiller Jane. But that didn't last long. Some earlier signs they would be soon losing the rights to the franchise, they decided instead to just produce one more book, a direct sequel to this Infinity series (see the title below).

The book featured some great gorgeous covers by Stjepan Sejic. Always a huge fan of his work. There also was some other alternate covers by other guest artists, also included in this book's cover gallery.

Artist Nigel Raynor did a serviceable enough work. The art is okay-sh, nothing much to it really. But it works. I kinda wish they could have gotten someone better suited to translate the Terminator's post-apocaliptic setting, the series' always been known for its rich detailed future scenes. I just wish they could have better translated those scenes to honor the films though...

All in all, it's an interesting enough plot. Showing the T-800 being activated way too early.

As a sidenote, the older Terminator model helping John Connor in this book was nicknamed Uncle Bob as a reference to a line from the young John in James Cameron's T2.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Terminator Vol.2: Revolution or just Terminator: Revolution 
Written by Simon Furman
Art by Lui Antonio 
Format: Trade paperback collecting the mini-series Terminator: Revolution #1-5.

Following a pretty silly Painkiller Jane crossover, Dynamite decided to let the Terminator comic book return to the main on-going story in this proper follow-up titled Terminator: Revolution.

The story picks up after the previous volume.

The T-Infinity was now sent to 2015 to ensure a second historical key moment in SkyNet's domination over the world. The objective now? To kill Tara Connor.

We find a now older John Connor. Connor and the Resistance battle the T-Infinity back after Tara this time. John and Tara have adopted the young Kyle Reese. Our hero is able to partially disable it with an EMP... but he's also sent through time accidentally... to Alabama, 1996!!

Resulting from all the time traveling around, the very fabric of time has reached a "zero point" if you will.

SkyNet can't locate the T-Infinity anymore... So it sends a whole new machine, the only one specifically designed to counter the T-I. In what I like to call the most over-the-top overkill upgrade I've ever seen from the franchise yet... SkyNet creates a gigantic mechanical hellhound after the T-Infinity! The "Dire Wolf" Terminator.

Back in 1996, we get to meet a younger John Connor in a time in his life during a previously unseen point in which he was again attacked by T-850 at a new School, when Sarah Connor was still around after T2. Using these time discrepancies, the T-850 is able to use this closed time loop to gather a huge group of time traveling-copies. This anomaly helps set a ton of these 850 Series after John at his school... Sarah is called to the school and is stuck in front of this army of Terminators.

Meanwhile the older John Connor is able to find and secure his younger self, who thinkgs he's just another reprogrammed Terminator from the future.

The T-Infinity was heavily damaged and now has reset his highest priority to kill Sarah Connor... despite John being already born by that time!

Back in 2015, the Wolf!Terminator tracks back the T-I's last steps and finds both the Human Resistance and Terminator units. It's being attacked on all sides, but this "Wolf" was prepared to face any possibility in its path. It even destroys a couple of huge HKs flying in the sky! Finally it concludes the best outcome is to return to the SkyNet Facility, go back to 1996 and destroy the Infinity model there and then. Destroying some more T-800 along the way to the time displacement  unit. It activates the time machine on his own, almost going rogue against any SkyNet machine on his way!

And so the series end on an epic fight, machines fighting one another over their respective objectives.. but who hitched a ride along the way? It's the young Kyle Reese again! He is able to distract the mechanical monsters, and Connor is finally able to put an end to both machines for good!

They make one last trip, ensuring several timelines... One in which mankind is left free from the machines! And another where Judgment Day still happened somehow...

Overall: Okay, this was bad. Really bad.

This Terminator: Revolution was published through 2009 as 5 issues originally. Furman came back to write this second act. With a new artist, the very talented Lui Antonio.

But the problem is it just feels so silly... The story loses its true focus, and can't decide either it wants to be considered part of the main canon of any of the films.. or a giant alternate story (like some of the Dark Horse comics), or simply part of a much bigger alternate universes-thing. Plus everything just feels so ridiculous.

Overdoing it, they added way too many things, time travel aside. SkyNet fearing the Infinity model was capture by the Resistance, their best response was to dispatch... this gigantic killer robotic dog to destroy the T-I!?! (Complete with unnecessary stupid Xenomorph-style tongue-mouth inside its mouth-thing, because?) The T-Infinity was already an overkill bad idea back then, but here this robot dog is just plain ridiculous....

Strangely this second arc just feels "off". It has the same write, but manages to get a lot annoying inconsistencies with the movies, time travel or not, adding this random attack by a T-850 that was never alluded to in the films/contradicting things John Connor said in Terminator 3. Or are we taking into account the Dark Horse comics now? There's a lot of details like that will annoy the fans, to which this book was probably meant for. Lots of issues regarding SkyNet, Terminators, ages and dates.. But even if you decide to ignore all that, it just doesn't make much sense!

At least there's a lot of references to all the Terminator films released by that time (even if those aren't entirely correct). And they apparently decided to drawm some slight inspiration from The Sarah Connor Chronicles series, how John and Sarah looked like in the scenes in the "past".

While the first volume wants itself to be a "war comic" following the war in the future like the classic NOW Comics Terminator series, all bets are off in this second volume. They were probably thinking anything goes since they would soon be losing the license. The story goes crazy off-rails, lots of time travel around...

Antonio's art is well detailed, really gorgeous in some panels, but also kinda pinup-ysh. It almost takes you out of the story in my eyes, the way he draws all these women with apparently fake boob jobs.

This time the main regular covers were done by Richard Isanove. (With Stjepan Sejic back as a guest cover artist)

I give this one a: 1.5 / 3 Score!

And that is it for Dynamite's Terminator series!

They would follow both this book and RoboCop's with Terminator/RoboCop: Kill Human in 2011.

Since then, IDW Publishing acquired the rights in 2009, right around the production of Salvation to publish a movie adaptation. But then they finally decided to focus on a prequel story instead.

They would finally lose the rights themselves, which then reverted back to Dark Horse. DHC took this occasion to reprint all their previous stories in these Omnibuses I reviewed along some new material. Terminator: 2029, what I consider to be the best Terminator comic/story ever made to this day easily!

That's all for this time's Quickies!

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