In Review: Terminator: Sector War #1

A new Terminator target is revealed in this issue which has plenty of action drawn in an unexpected style.

The covers: Two different covers to hunt down before they are lost to the future. The Regular cover is by Robert Sammelin and has Officer Lucy Castro running down a street with a rifle in one hand and her bulletproof vest in the other. She looks worried after leaving her police cruiser, which is parked on the curb outside a mini mart. The skyline of New York at night contains a monstrous image of a Terminator unit pointing a pistol at the left of the cover, his right eye revealed to be a glowing red orb. Nicely done, though typical looking comic book cover. The Variant cover by Grzegorz Domaradzki is the one I picked up. This features a fantastic image of Castro in violet holding her gun ready at her waist. Within her the Terminator is shown, wearing a three piece suit and sporting a massive rifle. He’s walking in a back alley and disturbing some pigeons, which are flying out of his way. Behind Castro is the top half of a Terminator unit without its flesh in red. This is sensational and would be poster, print, or tee shirt worthy. Overall grades: Regular B and Variant A+

The story: Scripted by Brian Wood, this story opens in alley off of Times Square in 1984. The large Terminator walks over to a man in a phone booth and demands his clothes. The man gives him his shirt and pants. With the man’s clothes over his arm, the robot says it doesn’t know how to use the White Pages, so the man asks, “What’s the name you’re looking for?” The Terminator says, “Castro.” This semi-familiar scene comes off a little odd since the New Yorker obliges the strange, buff, and naked man so easily. I’m not buying this. The story moves to the South Bronx’s 39th Precinct where Officer Lucy Castro has just finished a ten hour shift. Before she leaves she’s notified by a fellow officer that there’s a domestic disturbance call at her address. She takes a police cruiser to get her place as quickly as possible, cursing aloud as she makes her way, wanting only to go home, take a shower, and fall asleep. I thought I knew whom she would encounter at her home, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it was someone else. The dialogue between her and this individual is good, though is cut short by a scream from the hallway. She finds a scene outside she wasn’t expecting and this is when the action begins and quickly moves into overdrive. I’m expecting a Terminator to be chasing a female protagonist, but there’s also a mystery as to why it’s doing so that’s teased but not revealed. This will keep the interest high as momentary pauses in the action occur. Castro is a good protagonist because as a police officer she’s obviously got knowledge of weapons and knows her way around the city, giving her an edge over Sarah Connor. What’s extra neat about this story is that it coincides with the action of the first film, as the carnage in Los Angeles is shown on a television. Page 18 has a terrific moment where Castro’s plight takes on some added stress. I want to see where this story is headed. Overall grade: A 

The art: The visuals on this book are unlike anything I’ve seen before on any Terminator comic book. Jeff Stokely’s style is very manga inspired, especially when the characters open their mouths in shock. The opening two pages have a terrific rendering of Times Square with it peopled with a good variety of characters and some good movement of the point of view. The police station is also well done, with its exterior and interiors looking realistic. I really like the first panel that shows Castro walking robotically after her long shift. She’s emotionally dead after her day, showing that she has elements of a Terminator before she even meets the one that’s out to get her. The walk up the stairs at her apartment complex is a good build of tension, as fans of this franchise know who should be there. The character that appears in the fifth panel on Page 5 is great, as is Castro’s reaction in the sixth panel. I really like how Stokely showed how the Terminator was able to identify Castro on 6: very cool! The panel’s action that follows, however, doesn’t work — it’s just too blurry. The action on 7 is perfect, though; it’s absolutely cinematic with the action that occurs on a character and the reaction to it. I absolutely love the fifth panel on that page. Seriously, cinematic perfection. Page 9 has the reveal of a cache that would seem odd if it were any other character, but it works for Castro. I like that the visuals told what she was doing on this page, rather than explaining to another character what she’s getting. The manga inspired art appears with the action on 10. It’s okay, but it is taking me a little out of the story only because I’ve not seen this style with this franchise before. I did find myself wondering what the location was of the last panel of this page because it’s not clearly shown. Page 12 has some loose artwork compared to what was shown earlier, with the characters and the setting more suggested than fully realized, such as on the opening two pages. I did like the effect for the top of 14 — that’s neat! The progression of panels on 17 is well done, with the settings detailed and moving the reader to the protagonist. There’s a two panel sequence on 18 that has no text, but clearly communicate to the reader what’s learned. The book ends on the expected visual cliffhanger, but it works. Stokely’s style is interesting and has me looking forward to what he’ll do in the next three chapters. Overall grade: B+

The colors: Triona Farrell does a solid job on this book which is set entirely at night in NYC. She has every right to make this a really dark book because of this, but she’s able to use quite a wide array of colors to spotlight the characters and their actions while keeping things set late at night. The green used for the vehicles in the opening panel give them a very alien feel. The famous lights of Times Square have an orange tint, given it’s only started to recover from the slum it was in the 1970’s. The Terminator’s arrival is the familiar blues from the films and then the colors return to browns of a beaten block. The first strong colors of the book are the red lights of the police cruiser as Castro speeds to her apartment. The lighting in the fifth panel on 5 is great for focusing the reader onto this individual, but check out how well Farrell does the shading on Castro in the next panel. It’s just as good! Terminator vision gets a familiar, welcome red hue, as does the information readout the robot sees within his eyes. The sound effects in this issue are orange and yellow, blending in well with the city at this point in time. The final panel has got some nice work in reds, for eyes and the path the character is taking, promising violence to come. Overall grade: A

The letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot is responsible for the opening mechanical font, dialogue, scene settings, narration, yells, sounds, and Terminator font. The narration from Castro is a different font from the characters’ dialogue, which is always a good thing for letters to do, as they are two different forms of communication to the reader. The yells are varied, with some being louder than others, which is how they should be heard by one reading this book. The sounds are also in different sizes, with a majority of them being in a thin font. This is something found in most translated manga books, so Piekos may be taking his cue from the artwork or Stokely is inserting the sounds himself. Regardless, it looks good. I do have to give a good amount of applause to the scene settings which resemble futuristic font as seen from the 1980’s Nicely done! Overall grade: A

The final line: A new Terminator target is revealed in this issue which has plenty of action drawn in an unexpected style. I’m enjoying the story, which features some solid action and a decent mystery. The style of art has me wondering if it will grow on me in the next three issues, but I’m willing to go along just to see how the story plays out. This should be a solid purchase for fans of the Terminator. Overall grade: A-

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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