Monday, December 2, 2013

Review - Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle #1

"Why the hell couldn't I have come through twenty-four hours earlier."

Terminators are Skynet's answer to humanity. Their main purpose is the extinction of the human race, as they are a perceived threat to the safety of their existence. It's a whole delicate, circle of life type ecosystem that pits one group against the other. It all makes for fascinating entertainment and the franchise is poised for a reboot in the near future. That reboot starts with Dark Horse and Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle #1. The issue is written by J. Michael Straczynski, illustrated by Pete Woods, colored by Matthew Wilson and lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot.

Fast forward eleven years from 2018 in the life of John Connor and you're faced with a situation where Connor leads The Resistance. He's ready to launch his final assault on the Skynet facility where the construction of the time machine nears completion and Connor's life is at stake. Going back nearly three decades to 2003, Simon has ventured into Houston, TX, seeking Thomas Parnell, an escaped serial killer. At the same time, three T-800 units arrive in Dallas seeking Dr. Serena Koogan, an engineer who has a hand in developing the first Terminator robots.

The Terminator franchise has generally gone a little downhill since it burst onto the scene twenty years ago. Despite that, Terminator: Salvation was a decent movie, despite having some paradoxical plotholes. Straczynski does his best to explain away some of these inconsistencies, but the fact that the book jumps around in time only seems to create more problems. John Connor is there and acts as a time anchor for the characters and events; although, Connor's motivations are a little murky. Simon asks John the reason for Skynet sending Terminators to the past to kill him, even though it's mentioned in the same issue that the machines don't have the continuous memory. It's not necessarily a blatant hole, but it speaks to the difficulty of working with a property such as Terminator when there's so much time travel involved.

Woods' art is a little spotty as well. There are some panels where it looks as if Woods put in more detail and other panels where the work seems a little rushed. Some of the facial expressions look a little unnecessarily forced and unnatural, which doesn't really help the reader to understand the gravity of the situation in the book. Panel layouts are pretty bland as well, with a reliance on standard layouts with little in the way of insets or overlays. The inking is somewhat varied, as some characters are rendered with strong, bold outlines and others with thinner lines. The art is ok overall, but looks as if it could have used a little more polish.

Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle #1 is a book that looks poised to help reset a lot of the Terminator universe in anticipation of the upcoming reboot. The problem is that there are some many irregularities in the continuity of the timeline that even someone as good as Straczynski has trouble explaining some of them away. The story feels convoluted and even multiple readings still don't do a whole lot and in making things clearer. This is the first in a massive, twelve issue series and there's obviously room to do even more explaining, but it may be that no matter how much is said, things will just get even more difficult to follow.

Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle #1 is in stores December 4 with interiors below.


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