Welcome back to Kabooooom’s weekly comic review round-up! We’ve got the first of J. Michael Straczynksi’s new Terminator series, Terminator: Salvation: The Final Battle up first, plus a the third issue of Unlikely Heroes Studios’ Super! and the finale to Marvel and Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity!
TERMINATOR: SALVATION: THE FINAL BATTLE #1/ Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNKSI/ Art by PETE WOODS/ Colors by MATTHEW WILSON/ Published by DARK HORSE COMICS.
In the year 2018, the life of John Connor – the prophesied savior of humanity in their war against sentient machines – was saved by the cyborg meant to kill him. Eleven years later, John Connor is the leader of The Resistance. More, he is ready to launch a final assault on the Skynet facility where construction of a time machine nears completion – an assault that must succeed if John Connor is to ever be born!
In 2003, one of John Connor’s followers – Simon – appears in Houston, Texas. He begins hunting an escaped serial killer named Thomas Parnell, who is secretly an advanced Terminator unit sent back in time for some nefarious but unexplained purpose. At the same time, three obsolete T-800 units arrive in Dallas seeking Dr. Serena Koogan – an engineer whose work will lead to the development of the first Terminator robots.
J. Michael Straczynski has written some great science fiction and many fine books in general. Sadly, this is not one of them. The film Terminator: Salvation was slammed by critics and enthusiasts of the franchise alike for containing numerous logical plot holes and even a writer of Straczynski’s caliber cannot fight the inertia of the original film to create something wonderful based on it.
Straczynski gamely tries to explain away the series’ problems, such as why the Grandfather Paradox wouldn’t apply in this circumstance. This occurs when Simon asks John why Skynet bothers sending Terminators to the past to kill him when it must logically know it doesn’t work since he’s still alive in 2029. More, how would Skynet know it needed to send the Terminators in the first place if they were successful? The explanation Straczynski offers holds less water than a fishnet.
The usually excellent Pete Woods is similarly off-form. Many of the panels seemed rushed, with figures in the middle and far distances incredibly dirty and indistinct. Woods’ inks are also heavier than usual – perhaps in an effort to visually evoke the darkness of the dire future awaiting humanity? Regardless of the reason, most of the book’s art is muddy and muddled.
Don’t bother picking this book up unless you’ve already seen Terminator: Salvation. Although a timeline of events is included at the start of the book, it explains surprisingly little. Devout fans of the franchise may be better served by waiting for the inevitable trade paperback collection.
SUPER! #3/ Written by ZACHARY DOLAN & JUSTIN PIATT/ Art by ZACHARY DOLAN/ Inks by LAURIE FOSTER/ Ink & Pencil Assistance by TARA KAPPEL/ Colors by EVERARDO OROZCO/ Coloring Assistance by LUDWIG OLIMBA/ Chief Henchman Work by EDWIN REYES/ Lettering by JUSTIN PIATT/ Published by UNLIKELY HEROES STUDIOS
What’s not to love about Super! #3? Last month issue was terrific aside from its brief problems with uncomfortable and in-character sexism, which is thankfully absent from this month’s issue. Instead of any of that, we get a fantastic conclusion to last month’s story, great character moments, and what is, as always, a really fun comic.
Dolan, et al.’s art team is as good as it always is, with particularly great work on page 16, and excellent coloring at the top of page 25. Dolan does a great job with lettering, particularly with Pygram’s dialogue. What is most impressive about Super! this issue is, as always, the writing. Issue #3 has some real laugh out loud moments, the largest probably on page 13 with the Deadly Deer Tick (yes, really) celebrating committing the ultimate, original crime and then mocking a kid about it. He is stopped by yet another band of heroes, the Guild of Guardians, which brings Cosmopolis’s hero league count up to at least three.
One of the consistently cool things about Super! is its worldbuilding: a city overrun by superheroes is of course going to have three leagues at minimum, one of which can take the time to help a small child with petty crimes. And when a giant monster ravages the city, of course there are shelters and evacuation procedures that everyone follows – which is why Black Atom and his gang have a tough time robbing that bank, because no one’s going to be there in a monster crisis. Dolan and Piatt go to town on playing with and building on this nutty world, and their comic is fantastic because of it.
It’s only been three issues, but Super!’s main cast is well-written and likeable enough to get emotionally invested and connected. Max Archer’s stand and call-out against Pygram is fantastic, and Fire-Ant’s concern for Blitz is a real “aww ” moment and it’s so great to see that this group of people aren’t just teammates, they’re friends and they genuinely care about and support each other and flee the cops together. It’s great storytelling in a great comic.
INFINITY #6/ Written by JONATHAN HICKMAN/ Art by JIM CHEUNG & DUSTIN WEAVER/ Inks by MARK MORALES, DUSTIN WEAVER, GUILLERMO ORTEGO, DAVE MEIKIS, JIM CHEUNG, & JOHN LIVESAY/ Colors by JUSTIN PONSOR & IVE SVORCINA/ Letters by CHRIS ELIOPOULOS/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
Under the guidance of Captain America, the Avengers have rallied against the Builder armada and have freed hundreds planets from their oppressive rule. After the battle, the Avengers return home to find a broken and beaten planet at the hands of Thanos and the Cull Obsidian. Jonathan Hickman proves, in Infinity #6, that a Marvel crossover event can have a satisfying ending that is intriguing without being overly confusing.
If there was any question that Hickman is adept at constructing complex, challenging storylines that leave the reader feeling rewarded and intrigued for the future, Infinity #6 has answered that question. The final conflict between Thanos, the Cull Obsidian, and the heroes of Earth is expertly paced and is filled with jaw dropping moments. Only Hickman would see fit to make one of the Marvel Universe’s most powerful heroes, the Hulk, seem utterly defenseless against Thanos.
Hickman also did a great job off tying together all the small threads that started in Avengers #1 to bring Infinity to a satisfying resolution. Everything from the role of Ex Nihilo and Starbrand to Black Bolt’s plans for the Attilians is brought full circle and makes the future of the Marvel Universe look a lot more exciting than crossovers like Fear Itself and Age of Ultron did.
The art throughout the book is amazing. Cheung and Weaver’s sketches convey the massive impact that the conflict on Earth has had along with the downright exhaustion each hero feels as they stand against the Cull Obsidian and Thanos. One noticeable aspect to the art is the attention to detail that is taken to create shifts in light and shadow between the different scenarios. While Cheung and Weaver’s portrayal of Thanos is massive, the use of color and shadow help him to stand out as one of the most formidable foes ever faced in the Marvel Universe.
Overall, Infinity #6 proves that with Hickman’s guidance and excellent art, the Marvel crossover event is still a powerful story telling tool.