Friday, 30 April 2010

The Terminator 2029, Dark Horse Comics (Issue 1)

"The Future Fights Back!" That's the tag line from Dark Horse Comics' latest romp into the world of the machines, The Terminator 2029. But with the marked decline in the franchise over the years the question is does 2029 pack the metallic punch of it's namesake or is the lovable killing machine at the end of it's shelf life?

When it comes to re-makes and sequels friends have told me I play the "wounded fan" card pretty well and in many ways they'd be right. For a start, I hated the Transformers live action films, Command and Conquer is more or less dead to me and if I could travel back in time to stop the Alien Vs Predator films I would. So you can only imagine my reaction to Terminator: Rise of the Machines and 'Salvation.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I dislike sequels and off-shoots simply because they aren't the same as the original, far from it, but I do feel a certain amount of  trepidation when approaching a new chapter in my favorite franchises. Heck, who doesn't? It detracts from the immersion when you have to pick out which bits you like and which you don't. Sometimes a good idea is best left well alone.

With this all in mind I'll finally get round to the subject of this post, which is the review of Dark Horse Comics' first issue of The Terminator 2029, written by Zack Whendon. Given everything I've said there was a lot that could have put me off this comic but I was actually rather surprised. Right off the bat the comic harnessed the gritty, dark atmosphere of the films. Set during the future war before Kyle Reece is sent back in time, the visuals really reflect the post nuclear world and Andy Macdonald has done a wonderful job of capturing the imagery of the war that I felt 'rise and 'salvation missed. Macdonald delivers a clean and crisp art style that some readers may at first feel is a little removed from the "dirty" nature of the future war, however coupled with Dan Jackson's coloring the comic is brought to life with a potent contrast between grimy backdrops and neon action sequences. At times there is an honest brutality to the art which, to it's credit, never seems childish or over the top.

When it comes to the writing of the comic Zack Whendon doesn't disappoint. While the first issue can't give too much away it feels that there won't be too many surprises for the fan of Terminator law, however, the characters are likeable and share mixed relationships that quickly entice the reader to connect with the protagonists. Where Whendon excels is in delivering charisma and compassion between characters, which goes along way to inspire a sense of hope and resilience in a universe where it would be easy to become trapped in it's depressing nature. This is a slight deviation from the Reese monologues in the films which painted an entirely bleak outlook but I feel the additional energy works well in the comic format. There is also a fair balance between story telling and action which is something occasionally missing from comics so it never feels like a struggle to get through. if this pace is continued throughout the series this will be a welcome addition to the franchise.

"I'm Back"

All in all, this is a fair effort from Dark Horse, it's a shame that they decided to lend their name to the horrible Terminator game to coincide with the series but at least the comic is leagues ahead and won't see you ripping your own eyes out. It won't win any awards but I'd give it a solid seven out of ten dinosaurs (that's right, I said dinosours) and go on to make it an 8 for fans of the francise. The Terminator 2029 is well worth checking out, just make sure you
leave 'rise and 'salvation at the door.


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