Review by Ian Keogh
When Dark Horse acquired the licence to produce Terminator comics the original film was the only film, so the four stories combined in this Omnibus only feature variations on the mark one Terminator, the robot wearing a human skin. In fact the collection may well be titled The Terminator, but it’s four other characters who are more consistently featured.
Mary is introduced in John Arcudi and Chris Warner’s spirited opening story as an experienced resistance fighter from 2029 who leads a troop back to the past. Their mission is to kill engineering technologist Dr Bertram Hollister before he can develop what will become the autonomous Skynet computer brain wiping out humanity in the 21st century. Hollister is arrogant and secretive, something that alienates his assistant Astin. That trio and another character best kept concealed feature in three of the four stories, each by a different creative team.
Originally issued separately as Tempest, Secondary Objectives and The Enemy Within, they’re a mixed bunch. Arcudi and Warner follow the template of that first Terminator film closely, but it’s an exciting action thriller. Much the same applies to James Robinson and Paul Gulacy’s work on the middle story, in which a second, female Terminator is sent back through time, with Sarah Connor back on the hit list. Ian Edginton and Vince Giarrano conclude what’s in effect a trilogy, but their work doesn’t match the remainder. Edginton’s characters are inconsistent, and he resorts to melodrama too often, while Giarrano far more obviously sexualises Mary and his layouts aren’t as imaginative. Warner’s action art on the opener still looks great, although his Mary is also problematical, his design very much of its era, but he relishes the remainder of the story, never stinting on detail. Gulacy is equally good, cinematic in a different sense, with moody establishing panels and well presented locations. In Giarrano’s favour is the belting design he presents for the Terminator in his section, a distinctively horned model.
An additional story has no connection with the remaining content, as Robinson and Matt Wagner loose a Terminator in San Francisco hunting a different Sarah Connor, the events running parallel to what Big Arnie’s doing in the film. Robinson, however, cultivates a different atmosphere, helped by Wagner’s distinctively painted art, as this Sarah Connor, owner of an art gallery, may be a victim, but is far from virtuous. Both she and a retired policeman are interesting, and their fates blend around the Terminator’s presence.
That the good considerably outweighs the poor ensures this is a value for money collection even if the colour intended for newsprint is too vivid on better quality paper. An alternative is the first story and the Robinson/Wagner collaboration being offered in a hardcover remastered version with the colours toned down under the unwieldy title of Terminator: The Original Comic Series – Tempest and One-Shot.