In the past few weeks, two different Terminator #1’s have hit the streets, not surprising as anticipation for the fourth film grows as we get closer to its May 22nd release. What’s strange about it, though, is that these comics are coming from two different companies, one from Dynamite and the other from IDW. It boggles my mind that competitors can both possess the rights to produce comics from a popular franchise at the same time, but since this unique situation has arisen, the only logical thing to do is to seal these 2 books up in a mylar bag and have them go at it, robo y robo, until one book emerges victorious.
It’s Terminator fight night!
Ladieeeees and Gentlemen, in this corner, weighing in at $3.50 for 22 pages of story, is Terminator: Revolution #1 by Simon Furman and Lui Antonio.
Annnnd in this corner, weighing in at $3.99 for 22 pages of story, is Terminator: Salvation #1 from Dara Naraghi and Alan
Okay let’s have a dirty filthy fight, no holds barred annnnnnd…
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Round One: The Introduction
Revolution: This may be a first issue, but we learn from the recap page that this mini continues on from at least one previous series. "Kate Bewster" has died a year previous and John Connor received help from a terminator called "Uncle Bob" in fleeing Crystal Peak, whatever that is. By the way, isn't Kate's name "Brewster"? Nice copyediting. Also, according to the IMDB, Kate is alive and well in film 4, which means these comics represent yet another alternate version of the Terminator storyline, separate from both the movies and the TV show (which already conflict with each other).
Salvation: Billed as an official movie preview, this comic flows directly from the events of Rise of the Machines. As long as you've seen the three movies, or even just the last one, you're golden.
Round Two: The Setting
Revolution: A bunker in New Jersey, plus the blasted environs of its perimeter. Also, in the past, a trailer in 1996 New Orleans.
Salvation: Opens with a globe-spanning montage as John Connor sends out a message of hope and resistance to the remains of humanity. Shots of the Capitol, Forbidden City and Taj Mahal (among others) in smoking ruins bring home how much civilization has lost under the reign of Skynet. The action of the story unfolds on two fronts, a resistance HQ in Detroit and a refugee camp in Arut, Niger. In just a few pages this book does a much better job in establishing just how far the nations of the world have fallen.
Round Three: The Characters
Revolution: John Connor and his new wife Tara are the center of attention, which a short appearance by a young Kyle Reese. The rest of the freedom fighters are basically just cannon fodder. In the past, we're back with Sarah Connor (looking nothing like Linda Hamilton) and young whiny John.
Salvation: With John relegated to a voice on the radio and a brief flashback scene, the main characters here are from a range of ethnicities and cultures, united as one against the common aggressor, the machines. The resistance here come off as real people, not a bunch of rednecks in camoflage.
Round Four: The Action
Revolution: While waiting to kick his latest operation into gear, an attempt to wrest control of a missile command center from Skynet, John Connor sits around his bunker being anxious and fretting about when Terminators are going to try and come wipe out his new wife. And then one does, in the form of the highly advanced T-Infinity model. Meanwhile, in 1996-- well you know the score: Sarah and John are on the run, and Terminators are trying to kill them. Rather than just one, Skynet has sent 8 of them after the Connors this time.
Salvation: Similarly, a plan is afoot to thwart a Skynet uranium mine, but meantime Resistance leader Elena Maric tries to convince an underground survivalist community to stop hiding and take a stand against the enemy. Both Detroit and Arut come under assault by robotic forces.
Winner: It's a draw; both have a healthy dose of gunfire and explosions.
Round Five: The Artwork
Revolution: This is where this book really falls down: in Antonio's vision of the post-apocalypse, everyone is pretty and buff and runs around in tank tops to show off their physiques. Tara Connor is supposed to be a respected resistance leader, yet she runs around with her big boobs barely restrained by her skimpy top and thong straps showing out of her pants. Cause, you know, when you are fighting a losing battle to save humanity from extinction, you wouldn't want your panty lines to show through your cargo pants! Also the T-Infinity looks mighty super-heroey for the dystopian setting, he kinda resembles Mr. Freeze's long lost brother.
Salvation: Robinson's pencils are much more appropriate for the milieu in which the story is taking place. Far from being glamorous and beautiful, the characters have... well, character. They come in different shapes and sizes, look frazzled and dress more in keeping with desperate freedom fighters eking out an existence in a ruined world. The depiction of the shattered world monuments in the opening pages alone are more interesting than anything in Revolution.
And by the unanimous verdict of the judges, the winner and champion is:
IDW's Terminator: Salvation #1 for sure. Revolution is just a very by-the-numbers story with little to set it apart from other Terminator stories, drawn too bright and superheroish. Salvation does a much better job of reflecting the saga as a worldwide event, with dark atmospheric artwork and interesting characters to become invested in. Presumably Naraghi and Robinson were able to get a look at script and artwork from the upcoming film; this comic makes me look forward to its imminent release that much more.
Revolution rating: 6/10
Salvation Rating: 8/10