One of the best things about the entire Terminator idea is that it’s an open mythology allowing for multiple layers to be built around it. Good or bad, right or wrong, every chapter in the Terminator series whether comics, movies, books or TV fills in the structure that James Cameron originally laid out. One of the newest chapters to that mythology is Terminator 2029 from Dark Horse, which imagines a new angle to the original Kyle Reese story from the first film.
The book is set in the future and has thus far shown us not only Reese’s early life fighting for the resistance but also John Connor’s search for him in order to send him back. Writer Zack Whedon does two things nicely here the first being a well rounded back story for Kyle Reese and the other introducing a bizarre time travel element adding a new layer to the original Terminator. Whedon then combines both elements into an ending that is not only satisfying but also leaves you primed for the next series, Terminator 1984. I’m not usually a big fan of one series leading right to another, it often feels like a shill, but Whedon does it in a way that completes one story before starting another.
In this the third and final issue of Terminator 2029 all of the various storylines intersect into one major event that anybody familiar with Terminator will recognize. I won’t spoil these arcs or how they meld together, I urge you to read the series for yourself, but I will say it not only fleshes out Reese’s story but also adds a brand new character to his original fight to save Sarah Connor. Whedon manages to work in an Arnold cameo and not just any Arnold but the first Arnold. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but nothing in Terminator 2029 is confusing and it doesn’t put cracks into the Terminator mythology the way some companion comics do.
The introduction of this new character to the battle in 1984 opens so many new doors to the mythology and that’s exciting. In the original film Kreese and Sarah Connor got out of several sticky situations by blind luck or extraordinary chance. This new character builds on that and allows you to wonder how much of his unknown contribution led to the survival of Sarah Connor. When Terminator 2029 ends you’re left with a better understanding of Kyle Reese and John Connor as well as a new direction for a 26-year-old storyline. You really can’t ask for more from a comic.
If I had to nitpick anything it would be the art by Andy Macdonald that, while not bad, doesn’t pop off the page the way the story does. The work is just too pedestrian, almost factory like in its execution. Sure, it tells the story and represents what needs to be done but it never finds a style of its own, it just seems like any other artist-for-hire work. Don’t let the lackadaisical art stop you though, if you dig Terminator and solid sci-fi you’ll want to pick up Terminator 2029 immediately.