In Review: The Terminator: Sector War #3

A gangster and his minions assist Officer Castro in trying to stop the Terminator pursuing her.

The covers: Two issues to find as if your future depended on them. The Standard cover hails from Robert Sammelin and teases what lies within this issue. At the bottom, Castro has her pistol out, held in both hands, ready to take down her pursuer. She is flanked on either side by two gang members of Papa Oso’s. They hold automatic rifles, a bazooka, and a flame thrower. They should be able to take a Terminator down with all this firepower, right? The giant flaming upper torso of the machine grins down at its five opponents, knowing this won’t take much time. Great idea for a cover, with the humans looking super, but the Terminator not so much, and the flames seem to be filling space. Better is the Variant cover by Tula Lotay, which is the cover I purchased and chose to accompany this review. Castro holds a massive rifle up to her eye so she can better target her foe. Behind her is a police cruiser, but dominating the background is a massive Terminator head, with it’s red eyes dominating. The colors on this are killer, with violets and oranges working really well with white lines. I love this cover. Overall grades: Standard B- and Variant A

The story: The Terminator that’s pursuing Officer Lucy Castro finds a rifle in the street and picks it up. Using it’s superb hearing it overhears gangster Papa Oso talking to his prey. Castro strikes a deal with Oso: for his, and his men’s, help in stopping the thing after her, she’ll destroy some physical evidence in the precinct house that links him to several recent murders. She’s not happy, but she agrees. This is a necessary opening by writer Brian Wood to show what lengths Castro is willing to go to stop the machine that’s chasing her and once the deal is agreed to the Terminator arrives on the scene and the action begins and does not let up. Pages 9 and 10 have a sequence that shows the power that Oso’s men wield, but also shows how formidable the Terminator remains, even if it’s missing most of its flesh. The dialogue on 11 is great, with Castro speaking what the reader is thinking. I couldn’t help but smile at the last panel on this page as it features a sound that movies employ just as effectively as this book does. Page 15 has something revealed that justifies why the killer robot is after her and leaves the officer dumbstruck. It’s a nice surprise and it’s believable. The way Castro avoids some danger on 17 was a little too much to believe. Granted, this is a science fiction/action tale, but what Castro has had to endure up to this point has been possible. I at least expected a limp. The final words from Oso are great and the state of the Terminator is awesome. The last page has Castro going to a new location where there are several possibilities for danger and salvation in the final installment. This was the most satisfying issue yet. Overall grade: A

The art: The level of action in this issue also has me enjoying what artist Jeff Stokely has created. The book begins with the Terminator’s point of view as it makes its way down a street. Having the animal cross its path in the third panel was fun; seemed like a scene from one of the films. I like the focus of the fourth panel as it finds the gun. The (almost) double-paged splash of 2 and 3 shows the building in the South Bronx that Papa Oso controls and it’s a mess, surrounded by broken fences that are tagged with graffiti and decorated with barbed wire. It’s definitely inhospitable. The panel that ends Page 3 introduces Castro to the reader and it’s not a position one would assume to see the hero of this book: on her knees with her hands on her head. Oso looks fantastic: he has the build of the Kingpin, is shirtless but wears a coat, and has a monstrous ax casually held on his shoulder. The first view of the Terminator is on 8 and it’s a mess, with most of its machinery showing, but it looks fantastic. Battle damaged Terminators always look cool. The action on 9 and 10 is outstanding. I like the close-ups, the long shots, and how the skirmish with this one individual ends. I really like seeing the close-up panels of the elevator floor indicator, which is something everyone would be paying close attention to. The explosion on 13 is great, with Castro’s reaction to it excellent. 15 is an outstanding page for showing the state of the Terminator and the officer’s reaction to some news. Sadly, I was let down by 16, as the characters look rushed and/or too heavily inked. It was also difficult to make out what is occurring in the second panel on 17, though it becomes clearer with the two panels that follow. 18 is an outstanding page, the best of the book. It’s rare to see a Terminator in the position in the final panel and I wish that more time had been devoted to showing that moment. The final page is a full-paged splash teasing a new location. Stokely had the most action to do in this issue and did a good job on it. Overall grade: B+

The colors: Triona Farrell opens this issue using the reds one would expect when viewing a scene from the Terminator’s point of view. The words that pop up on the monster’s eyes are also colored similarly to those of the films. The exteriors and interiors of Papa Oso’s building are dark, but not so much so that the visuals are lost. I really like that Oso is in the shade for his introductory pages, making it seem as if he can’t exist in the light. When all the men are shown in position to await the Terminator the colors go dark, emphasizing that are lights have been extinguished to make it difficult for the antagonist. When bullets are unleashed on the robot the colors go a stark orange, making every shot seem like death. Page 13 uses some slick yellows and oranges for an explosion and I like how yellow dominates the background in the final panel, making the blast seem enormous. Metallic grays take over once the skin has been fried off the Terminator and its piercing red eyes will make fans feel like they’re in familiar territory. The colors are too dark on 17, making the action difficult to see and understand. I do like how Castro’s thought boxes are colored in yellow so that the reader instantly knows what they’re reading. Overall grade: A-

The letters: This issue’s text by Nate Piekos of Blambot consists of Terminator computer text, conversations overheard, scene settings, dialogue, narration, yells, and sounds. The text that the Terminator is seeing through his eyes is a terrific call back to those from the films and sets the reader comfortably into the issue from the get-go. The scene settings look as though they’ve come off a computer of the time. The sounds are outstanding on this issue, given all the violence. I have to say, though, that my favorite sound is that of the elevator arriving on the correct floor: it’s funny and appropriate. Overall grade: A

The final line: A gangster and his minions assist Officer Castro in trying to stop the Terminator pursuing her. There’s a lot of action, a good reveal, and exciting visuals. This was some nice payoff after the build of the previous two issues. I’m looking forward to seeing how this series ends. 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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