Judgment Day has come and gone for John Connor, but that isn't the end of the multimillion dollar Terminator movie franchise by a long shot, and IDW Publishing announced at Comic-Con International that it wouldn't be the end of Terminator comics either.
With "Terminator: Salvation" â€" the fourth installment in the big screen contingent of the action series, starring Christian Bale as Connor and directed by McG â€" set to debut in theaters across America next May, IDW will publish two tie-ins to the new film in the form of a yet-to-be-titled four-issue prelude series by writer Dara Naraghi (IDW's "Igor") and artist Alan Robinson and a four-issue movie adaptation written by Jeff Mariotte ("Presidential Material: Barak Obama") with art by "Transformers" mainstay Don Figueroa, which will ship on a weekly schedule shortly before the "Terminator: Salvation" film is released.
"I think Terminator is great. I thought it was great when it was at Dark Horse, and it lends itself really well to comics," IDW Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall told CBR News. "It set up not only such a huge world but a huge time span of events, too. There's so much story that's never been tapped into, and now with the new movie coming next year, it expands that even further. The new movie really opens up some new areas for us to do all kinds of things."
Like the movie they're set to tie-in to, IDW's "Terminator" comics will push the timeline of the franchise past Judgment Day and into all new territory, allowing for stories and visuals previously only hinted at on film. "With the new movie being set in the future, it's kind of like a whole new playground," Dara Naraghi told CBR. "With the three movies that came up until now, it was more or less the same kind of story with time travel and taking place in the present. So it's pretty exciting that after I read the movie script and what they're planning there, it was wide open. There's so many different things we can do, and it's a whole different landscape. You don't have a lot of the constraints of it being set in the modern world and having to work around the rules of law and modern technology."
Set in 2017 â€" a year before the story of "Terminator: Salvation" â€" the early 2009-debuting prelude series will take the core concept of the "Terminator" films and give them a more global scope according to Naraghi. "The main focus of the book isn't going to be John Connor. He's going to be in it, but I wanted to show the rest of the face of the resistance â€" everyone else who's either trying to survive or actively part of the resistance, and not just in North America. In all the movies, it's all in L.A., or in the future scenes it's just small clips. I wanted to show what's going on around the world or in other places, so it's going to have more of an international flavor to it."
Naraghi added, "At its core, aside from man versus machine thing, I think what made the Terminator movies so appealing was that the humans were going up against this unstoppable force, and for the most part, they were just running from it. It wasn't so much going into battle. It was trying to survive until they could figure out how to defeat this thing. That's something where I can play around with a different story structure where it's not just a battle or war â€" it's a game of survival, and you can figure out how you're going to get out of your situation."
That survivalist bent allows for Naraghi's miniseries to explore a new set of themes as well as new sci-fi locales. "All over the world, people find themselves having to band together regardless of what their previous station in life or prejudices might have been," Naraghi explained. "The other thing that really excites me was that the studio was really keen on us showing different and varied Terminator models, especially this idea of them being produced in other countries as well. And the idea that Chris suggested and I ran with was that in order for Skynet to start mass producing the various Terminator models, it made sense that it would eventually take over existing manufacturing factories. So one of the settings in my stories takes place in Detroit where a lot of automobile stamping plants that have been converted into making parts for Terminators."
And once Naraghi's "Terminator: Salvation" prelude miniseries has laid the road, IDW plans to unleash their movie adaptation on a rapid fire schedule, with new issues of the comic hitting stores weekly with a trade collection to follow close on their heels. "We don't have the exact timing down, but it will happen around a month or four to six weeks before the movie opens," Ryall said. "That way, the comics are done, and the trade paperback's out in stores for everyone. It'll be all wrapped up probably a week or two ahead of the movie."
Writer Jeff Mariotte isn't phased by the deadlines, however, as the year between the convention and the film allows him plenty of time to craft a graphic version of the movie. "It shouldn't have any bearing on how I do the work, since I usually try to stay ahead of deadlines anyway," the writer told CBR. "I think the schedule will generate excitement in the comics themselves, as well as in the movie, because it'll feel more like the roller-coaster ride that a Terminator movie itself isâ€"fast paced and rocketing from beginning to end. Being spread out over months would slow that momentum down."
And while "Terminator: Salvation's" plot remains tightly under wraps, both Ryall and Mariotte noted that a selling point for the series would be artist Don Figueroa's Terminator interpretations. "We were talking about it one night at ten o'clock at night, and the next morning at six, I had these amazing images. He was like, 'Yeah, I started doodling,'" laughed the publisher. "He's never done this stuff before, so it's pretty cool."
"Don is awesome," added Mariotte. "I'm hoping for some new twists on robot vs. robot combat, and some really large scale battles. In the movies, the big epic sweep of the human vs. machine wars has mostly been hidden under darkness and clouds of smoke, in favor of focusing on the more personal battles taking place in the 'present.' I think in this one we'll get to see more of that struggle (which, ultimately, is responsible for everything else that happens in the franchise), and I think Don's talent will really shine in those scenes."
As for any additional benefit to grabbing the license, Ryall could think of a few. "I think the fact that it's going to allow us with [Dynamite Publisher] Nick Barrucci a bit...no, I'm just kidding!" joked Ryall quickly. "They have the 'Terminator 2' license, which is kind of an odd thing because they're each separate licenses. Our stuff is set pretty close to the new movie timeline. It's about 15 years after Judgement Day. There are a lot of things that have gone on already before our story starts. At some point, we may go back and tell some of those stories as well."
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