Tuesday, March 20, 2012

He said there's a storm coming in.

It can't be bargained with.
It can't be reasoned with.
It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear.
The machines rose from the ashes of the nuclear fire. Their war to exterminate mankind had raged for decades, but the final battle would not be fought in the future. It would be fought here, in our present. Tonight...

... I review The Terminator Omnibus Volume 1. It's not an omnibus like you expect from Marvel or DC. It's a paperback from Darkhorse and runs for 352 pages. Amazon want a laughable $35 USD (I picked up this copy for about $5 on Things From another World's Black Friday sales last year). I'll be up front that I wasn't expecting a lot despite it getting a good wrap from my wife. Also keep in mind that this started being produced just before Terminator 2 came out.

So to the book. There are four different story arcs included, three of which deal with one running set of characters, the other being a singular tale. Here's a tip: don't get too attached to the characters early in the first story. That said, by the end of the first story we've more or less ironed out the unnecessary characters. In essence this volume focuses on trying to protect Sarah Conner, and prevent future tech from being used to create the future. Whether there was someone from the production team for T2 feeding people the idea that the future tech is as big an issue as the Connor family, I don't know. I do know that a team of future soldiers come back to try and protect Sarah, destroy future tech, and then party off into the sunset. Until the machines also send back a team of Terminators. The story from this point is admittedly light on. There's a lot of violence and blood. The art is very late 80s and not influenced by anyone I can identify. And the Terminators seem to lose. Almost. The story does give us two things that we've since seen in movies: Lady Terminators, and man-machine hybrid Terminators. Hrm.
Second story is a tale of another Sarah Conner and what happens when the machines target the wrong lady for termination. Not that it would bother them. This one has a lot more human drama interspersed with the main "robot hunting people" plot, and it helps make it feel more like a complete story. Terminators still lose.

Good thing Johnny Blaze isn't the
son of Scott Summers and
Madelyne Pryor
Third and fourth story pick up the character from the first story... and one of the humans is turning traitor! Oh, and more terminators come back. These two tales start giving more depth to these characters in terms of granting them the gift of guile. So I enjoyed the third story (despite that it really resolved nothing) quite a bit. The fourth story introduces a repaired "Vengance" Terminator (seriously check out this robots head) whose primary mission is now to terminate our friends from the future. The interesting part in this idea is that the Terminators are truly showing their ability to approach their overall mission by changing their immediate mission. It's something we've never really seen in the movies, but that must obviously happen. From an engineering point of view (and a management point of view) that's something many people can't seem to cope with, trust a machine to do it right. The fourth story is also the betrayal story, where human greed gives the machines a chance to get exactly what they wanted in a way that their programming could never comprehend.

Overall, it's a fairly good book. It's not stellar, but it's not trashcan fodder. Without having read volume 2, I'd hope that the story continues to evolve. The core concept of The Terminator (be it comics, books, or movies) is a solid and enjoyable one, but it's one that needs breathing space. In other words, by the time I was finished reading this book, I'd had my fill of Terminator for the time being.

I wouldn't recommend this book to people that don't like the Terminator movies, that's just a wasted effort. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone that doesn't like anything but spandex comics, again it's a waste. However, I believe that the remainder of society have a good shot at enjoying this. The comic book readers will be able to use this as a short and enjoyable break from superheroes. The non-comics fans will view this as further Terminator stories. What i will say about this book is that it's a good gateway book to get people reading comics. It didn't have to be brilliant comics, it had to be solid, and it had to present familiar material. It does both those things, and considering my comics ambivalent wife enjoyed it, I call that a success.

Next time out, I go to the movies again.
Now pay attention 007!

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