It's the kind of thing that can only happen in the world of comics.
While Warner Bros. prepares a new rollout for the blockbuster Terminator franchise that includes McG's upcoming "Terminator Salvation" film and the Fox Network's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" TV show, the comic book marketplace has two Terminator projects blooming in tandem in the form of IDW Publishing’s upcoming "Salvation" tie-in comics and Dynamite Entertainment's alternate continuity which began with “Terminator 2: Infinity” and whose next release is early 2009's "Terminator Revolution." The reason the two comics initiatives can peacefully co-exist comes from the fact that the Dynamite series is specifically a license of the film series' second movie, "Terminator 2: Judgement Day.”
However, as Dynamite's l"T2: Infinity" proved, the company's Terminator comics -- under the command of legendary sci-fi scribe Simon Furman ("Transformers")-- carve their own path in story terms from the end of the third movie in the film franchise. And while "Infinity" picked up the ball with fated hero of the Resistance John Connor taking his first steps towards fighting back, "Revolution" will present a time-hopping tale of a Connor fully ready to take the fight to the machines.
"Strangely, by the time we join the story in 'Revolution' (in the year 2015), John is much more comfortable in his role as co-leader of the human Resistance. That’s right, I said co-leader," Furman told CBR while reminding readers that his last series introduced a new military character. "Tara Holden, now Tara Connor, is a hugely integral part of the coordinated moves currently being made by the Resistance against Skynet, which is why she (and not John) is the target this time out. Skynet sees her as the lynchpin holding not simply the Resistance together but John (who’s already lost his mother and Kate) himself. But, of course, this being 'Terminator,' as soon as John’s in any kind of comfort zone it seems only right and proper to take him out of it and into a whole new world of pain. You’re not going to believe what ‘fate’ has in store for him."
Furman’s made it a goal to break the mold of past Terminator stories in ways that the filmed versions can't seem to pull off. Step one in mixing things up involves taking full advantage of the time travel elements in the story in ways that budgets and actors won't allow. "Something happens in issue #1 that throws events in 2015 together with events in 1996, in a strange and hopefully unexpected way,” the writer said. “We’re kind of playing around here with people’s expectations of how, in general structure terms, things happen in Terminator stories. I’m pretty sure what we’ve done has never been done before in any of the various Terminator media, so my feeling is it will really excite readers."
One thing “Terminator: Revolution” will have in common with past iterations is its reliance on big robot action, as the series expands the role of the T-Infinity Terminators from "Infinity" as well as introducing the new Dire Wold model. "There’s just an insane amount of Terminator action packed into this series," Furman said. "Dynamite’s instruction to me when we were kicking ideas for 'Revolution' around was pretty much 'go wild.' So I did. The T-Infinity really gets to strut its stuff, and pretty much is the spur for everything that happens in the series. Then the Dire Wolf (the epitome of a Hunter-Killer in every sense of the phrase) gets into the mix, and takes on all-comers, humans, other Terminators, other Hunter-Killers -- even, ultimately, the T-Infinity. Oh, and then there are the eight T-850s running around in 1996! Eight!"
Furman also confirmed “Terminator: Revolution” would include another watchful eye character similar to the role Arnold Schwarzenegger played in the later Terminator movies, although that's about all he let slip. "Definitely a big twist on the protector/protectee thing this series,” Furman teased. “Love to say more, but I can’t!"
One new element to Dynamite's comics is the inclusion of John Connor's mother Sarah in the four-color version of the franchise. And since the time-traveling take explored in "Revolution" allows the writer to track multiple characters through the Terminator world, Furman will be playing games with both Sarah in '90s and John's father Kyle in the near future.
"In a way, Sarah fulfills the same role she does in the Terminator movies and in 'The Sarah Connor Chronicles,' but then we throw her a curve that really puts her through an emotional mill, like never before. She really has some weird stuff to deal with," the writer said of the first half of the parenting pair, adding, "Kyle is a teenager (there or thereabouts) going through growing pains in ‘Revolution,’ wondering why his ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ keep, in his own words, 'wrapping him in cotton wool.' And like any teenager, he’s going to rebel, in a big way. Of course, if anything happens to Kyle it’s game over — no John, no Resistance, Skynet wins. That’s how big the stakes are in 'Revolution.'"
Rounding out the creative team this time out will be former "Red Sonja" artist Lui Antonio. "The stuff I’ve seen so far from Lui is quite simply breathtaking," Furman said. "I’d already seen and admired his 'Red Sonja' work, but I wasn’t sure how well he’d adapt to the harsher machine-tooled world of Terminator. I needn’t have worried. The stuff is dark and beautiful at the same time. Each new page I see just blows me away."
Simon Furman hopes that in the Terminator-covered landscape that is pop culture in 2009, "Revolution" will blow a its own supply of fans, particularly because he has more ground to cover and more stories to tell. "I didn’t want the ‘Infinity’/’Revolution’ storyline to just amble along, well, infinitely, so 'Revolution' does come to a conclusion of sorts,” he said. “Of course, like another franchise I’ve dipped my toe in from time to time, 'it never ends,' so I’m hoping to do more. Whether Dynamite pick up story threads from this precise arc or go in a new direction, which is always possible with Terminator, remains to be seen. I certainly hope we/I get to do more with the John/Tara/Kyle/T-Infinity thing we’ve got set up."