One of my longstanding complaints with the greater portion of sci-fi fandom is that the Terminator as a franchise has never really been given the treatment it deserves. Now, to be fair, some of this may be part of the age old argument surrounding the ‘rights’ to a franchise (at least, I’ve read in some parts how the argument of who owned the rights kinda/sorta derailed the motion picture possibilities for a time). Still, even when rights issues appear to have been reconciled, it would seem that the Terminator comes up more often than not as an afterthought and not necessarily the kind of property anyone wants to take a swing at artistically. Creatively, maybe there are those that feel a commodity built around the whole time travel premise may not translate well to greater or grander stories, but I’ve always believed that ingenuity can make anything work.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
John Connor is gone. No, he’s not dead. He’s just gone. As in not here. In fact, he quite literally hasn’t yet been born, I suspect, as the events here unfold very nearly after the conclusion of the first TERMINATOR film. Another T-800 cybernetic killer emerges from a time bubble with its sights set on Dr. Elise Fong. But disgraced intelligence operative turned private eye Farrow Greene is also looking for Dr. Fong, and when these two forces collide they’re likely to leave a trail of bodies and destruction in their wake!
THE TERMINATOR: ENEMY OF MY ENEMY is a throwback to a time when comic book stories were, say, a little kinder, a little gentler. What scribe Dan Jolley has done is picked up the franchise at a point when theatre audiences were only just familiar with them, setting his tale not long after the end of the story that took place in the first film. It’s 1985, and the local theatre in playing BACK TO THE FUTURE and THE GOONIES according to the marquee. For those of us familiar with that time and place, there’s definitely a welcome sense of nostalgia to those first few panels.
But – like I said in the outset – that’s pretty much all we learn. As a first issue, there’s also a certain sense of obligation around much of this – Greene is established with a mysterious past, but then again so does this Terminator (with hippie-length hair) and so does Dr. Fong. This introduction poses more questions than it can possibly answer, so rather than belabor any narrative points (much of which would just be speculation) I’ll instead say that this looks like more of the same, meaning it may not be any grand addition to the franchise. Too soon to tell?
Dark Horse has taken a respectable number of stabs at infusing the Terminator franchise with some life, though I’d have to honestly admit that I’ve yet to be suitably ‘wowed’ by anything they’ve turned out. THE TERMINATOR: ENEMY OF MY ENEMY at first blush looks like more of the same – fairly nebulous storytelling, fairly routine artwork, fairly obligatory action sequences and panel layout – but I’ll happily cut them some slack as this is only a first issue. Sure, maybe I hoped for more – especially with the benchmarks they’ve been reaching and exceeding on STAR WARS and CONAN – but, alas, it is what it is. I’ll admit that Dan Jolley’s story has an inspirational twist, setting this one hot-on-the-heels of events that ended after the first film in the property, so maybe that’ll help send this one to greater heights as it all unfolds.
THE TERMINATOR: ENEMY OF MY ENEMY is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is written by Dan Jolley; the pencils are by Jamal Igle; the inks are by Ray Snyder; the colors are by Moose Baumann; and the lettering is by Nate Piekos of Blambot. Also, there’s a great little afterward from Brendan Wright, and I strongly encourage everyone read it to better understand some of the particulars surrounding this particular tale and its place in Dark Horse’s history. It all comes with a respectable cover price of $3.99.
RECOMMENDED. No, it isn’t perhaps as grand as I expected, but there’s still something to Dan Jolley’s THE TERMINATOR: ENEMY OF MY ENEMY that feels comfortable, feels ‘at home’ in this story of yet one more T-800 showing up to spell certain doom for some unfortunate soul. It doesn’t appear to be John Connor this time out – thank you, story gods! – but it might somehow tie back into the existing mythology before all is said and done. Tonally, it’s very similar (maybe too much so) to that first film. I’ll withhold some judgment until I see how our mysterious lead heroine develops in thirty days.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with a digital reading copy of THE TERMINATOR: ENEMY OF MY ENEMY #1 by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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