After fighting the future in “Terminator: 2029,” which wraps this week with issue #3, writer Zack Whedon and artist Andy MacDonald team up once again to take Kyle Reese back to where it all began – Los Angeles, 1984, the setting of James Cameron’s original “Terminator” feature film. “Terminator: 1984” debuts in September from Dark Horse, and will find Reese and his friend Ben, who debuted in the “2029” arc, struggling to stay one step ahead of the T-800s sent back in time to murder Sarah Connor, mother of resistance leader John Connor. Many readers (and anyone who may have encountered the merest trappings of pop culture over the last 25 years) will know the broad strokes of what’s destined to go down, but Whedon’s story is poised to build something new – the introduction of a new time-traveling companion whose mere existence suggests that neither the past nor the future is set in stone. Following our chat with the writer earlier this week about his work on “Dr. Horrible,” CBR News spoke with Whedon about the new series, in which he shared some candid opinions about cinematic sequels and his own humility, as well as an exclusive first look at the debut issue’s cover.
“Terminator: 1984” builds from events in the final issue of “Terminator: 2029,” as well as drawing directly from James Cameron’s original “Terminator.” “The first issue intertwines with the film, so much so that I suggest you watch the movie again so you’ve got it fresh in your head,” Whedon told CBR. “We see scenes from the film and new perspectives on those scenes. I think it is cool and not too ‘Back to the Futurey,’ not that there is anything wrong with ‘Back to the Future,’ because there isn’t. Except, of course, those sequels. But here at Terminator Incorporated, we don’t begrudge people a few bad sequels. Speaking of bad sequels, what the fuck happened to the ‘Matrix?’ I was more excited for those sequels than anything in my life. Can you imagine if they had been good? Would it have been the biggest movie franchise of all time? I think maybe.”
Returning from his tangent, Whedon addressed the fact that Kyle Reese’s comrade-in-arms Ben also returns in “1984” for the journey to the past, which might suggest a few things about how “2029” #3 plays out. As to the nature of this new mission, Whedon said that they are still in it together. “Ben’s mission is Kyle, at the outset,” he told CBR. “[‘Terminator: 1984’] will follow on from the first series fairly directly, but when you’ve got time travel involved, nothing is that direct,” Whedon said. “You could call the second series a sequel or a prequel to the first. Crazy. Time. Sheesh.”
Beyond that, Whedon said, “I can’t tell you much except that you get to finally spend some quality time with Sarah Connor. I’m very excited to bring her in. She really is the center of the franchise to me and I can’t wait to explore her character and to bridge somewhat the gap between who Sarah is at the end of the first movie and who she is at the start of the second.”
With the shift back in time to Sarah Connor’s era, Whedon said that the future would have to wait. “Sadly, I’m done playing with 2029 for the time being,” he said. “I would love to explore the more day-to-day aspects of living in that time. I couldn’t do much of that in the first arc because it was so short and I had to get the Terminators and the fighting and the plot in there. I would have loved to spread the story out over many, many issues to take the time to really paint a picture of what it is like to live in 2029 and specifically in Pasadena One, the colony where we find Ben and Paige in issue one. Oh, well. If anyone thinks there’s a market for Terminator comics with little or no action in them, I’m happy to author them.”
Now that he’s got one “Terminator” series under his belt and another on the way, Whedon told CBR that he’s become quite acclimated to this particular universe of robot devastation. “I definitely understand it better than I did before. I have put so many hours of thought into it at this point that I really feel like I know the world and could write a history of it,” he said. “It’s enormously fun. I think I’ve watched the first movie a half dozen times over the past twelve months, and it still gets better with every viewing. Every person who has had the privilege of playing in this universe probably imagines aspects of it differently, but I have arrived at my personal comprehensive view.”
Some might wonder whether contributing his personal comprehensive view to the “Terminator” universe might also be giving Whedon a big head. “Huge! Enormous head!” he admitted. “I now watch ‘Terminator’ and pretend that they made a movie sequel to my three-comic arc. I then stand in front of the mirror and talk to an imaginary interviewer about what a good job they did honoring my vision.”