How do you craft a good Terminator story without series centerpiece Sarah Connor in the mix? And no Kyle Reese/Ahnuld “bodyguard sent back in time” analogue either?
Writer Dan Jolley seeks to answer those questions, as well as “recapture that fear of the unknown” from the original Terminator films in Terminator: Enemy of My Enemy. Is it good?
Terminator: Enemy of My Enemy TPB (Dark Horse Comics)
We’ve heard the bad news already: the Resistance couldn’t send anyone back in time to help. Our condolences to the poor bastard facing down a Terminator unawares, right?
The good news? Farrow Greene. Ex-CIA assassin, one of the most dangerous people on the planet, all-around bad-ass, and one-hundred seventy pounds of pure muscle. Oh yeah, all woman:
One Jolley has described in interviews as “half Gina Torres, half Gina Carano.”
Farrow’s mission? Protect Elise Fong, a scientist whose melanoma research will ultimately produce an integral weapon in the battle against Skynet. There’s only one enormous, implacable problem: A T-800 wants Elise too. Wants her ass dead, that is.
That was my first thought after finishing Terminator: Enemy of My Enemy. From the very first page the narrative takes hold of you in its powerful, servo mechanical metal grip and doesn’t let go. Jolley takes us back to 1985, one year after the events from the original Terminator film: it’s nostalgic; you swear you’ve been here before; a time before cell phones, omnipresent internet and Justin Bieber. Best of all? Our heroes don’t know what they’re up against, which makes the Terminator a foe that much more formidable. As Jolley put it in a Newsarama interview: “…the humans who encounter the Terminator don’t have anyone to provide any exposition; even the people who think they know what’s going on don’t really know what’s going on. I wanted to dig into that dynamic, treating the Terminator like the kind of monster that regular people would see it as.”
Jolley reaches his goal on nearly every level; throughout the book he delivers an overarching sense of dread comparable to the first two films; the feeling that the enigmatic, unfeeling foe our protagonists face is inescapable; that whatever they do to try to stop it isn’t enough. In other words: exactly how you want to feel during a good Terminator story.
It’s not all cat and mouse, though. The knock-down drag-out battles between Farrow and the Terminator are enjoyable as hell, but they’re matched by verbal ones equally as tight — we’re talking on a John Connor/Sarah Connor/Arnold from Terminator 2 level. It’s clear that a lot of thought went into each bit of dialogue, every riposte and Jolley has the perfunctory-sounding speech mode of the Terminator down cold. The fact he’s a true fan and “[has] seen Terminator and Terminator 2 fifty or sixty times each over the years since they came out,” could have something to do with that. Well played, Daniel.
Not enough can be said for Jolley’s impressive characterization. My first impression of Greene was, “Writer’s pushing her harder than a Mary Sue version of Hulk Hogan,” on account of her insane fighting ability and the fact that she holds her own against the Terminator in hand-to-hand combat, complete with Judo flips and ninja kicks but you can’t help but have her back soon enough. Never will you find yourself thinking “Why didn’t she just do this?” or “Would’ve been easier if she had just…” because you won’t have time to; Farrow’s a quick thinker and her mental acuity brings the story hurtling along at a thrilling pace.
You can’t help but love every Terminator panel as well. Like the Energizer Bunny of Death that he is, he takes a licking, keeps on ticking and codifies his actions and own reasons for taking out Fong in a way that’ll have you narrowing your eyes with reluctant admiration. Or looking real funny at your mechanical devices.
Artist Jamal Ingle and inker combine to give the series a formidable visual punch. The action/fight scenes rumble, full of energy, and nuances like bodies contorting before the fate-sealing neck snap, glints of Terminator metal jutting from battle-damaged flesh, blood spattering during full-blown gunfights or the gradual disfigurement of the Terminator from Fabio/Arnold lovechild into full-blown, walking endoskeleton provide a visual feast.
Is It Good?
Old school fan of Terminator that became disenchanted? This is just the series you need. Pick it up and fall in love again.
New fans looking for a cunning, action-packed story with bad-ass characters can’t go wrong either.