By Brian Wood, Jeff Stokely & Triona Farrell
There’s been so many Terminator comics over the years, it’s hard to find new stories to tell, especially when comics aren’t the only medium the franchise has been adapted into. Brian Wood (The Massive) and Jeff Stokely (The Spire) are returning to the roots of the licensed property, with a “why hasn’t anyone done this before”-type story. At the same time Sarah Conner is being hunted by a Terminator in Los Angeles, a police officer in New York is also being hunted. That is the premise for this series. It’s almost ingenious in its simplicity, but opens the doors to many narrative opportunities down the road.
Lucy Castro, the protagonist, is presented as a woman who can handle herself and is resourceful in the line of duty, but seems to make bad decisions when it comes to her personal life. It’s very comforting to know that the creative team wanted to a have a more capable female character than Sarah is in the original film; it’s a good contrast. It’s easy to lean too heavily into that difference and could have made Lucy one-dimensional. By adding a few scenes about her flaws, Castro becomes more empathetic and engaging. Even her design factors into this. She has a slim, athletic build, more of a gymnast-type figure. Her face, though, is made to allow for a range of exaggerated emotions that seems to have a manga-style influence. It conveys that the creatives felt it was more relevant to have her be emotionally flexible
The book flows at a good, brisk pace that allows for enough character development and exposition to occur and then immediately jump into the chase. Stokely’s use of action lines hasten the speed and heighten the tension. Triona Farrell’s colors are a fantastic component of the work. Her tone blendings for skin colors account for lighting and just give the characters proper depth. There’s also a dose of reality absolutely worth noting and appreciating. The page where Lucy engages the Terminator and realizes it’s no normal person, is simply superb. A perfect symbiosis of pencils, inks and colors. The first page is also stunning and sets the tone and level of quality that this creative team is striving for. Jeff Stokely leads reader’s eyes with his art and characters and also has panels bleed into each other to serve this purpose as well. He has a strong sense for visual storytelling.
This first issue is fairly straightforward, but so is the first Terminator film – strip the story down to the essentials. The ending of the issue is a bit weak, but enough groundwork is laid down that the audience should be invested in Castro’s survival and how this story will impact the grander mythos of the Terminator franchise. The Terminator, itself, is a hulking mass, not unlike Schwarzenegger. It’s an unnatural force, so it will also be interesting to see how Wood uses the cyborg subtextually. There’s also quite a bit of social commentary appearing in this issue as well, but it never overpowers the plot or pulls from the characters, which is what one would expect from a skilled comic book writer like Brian Wood, who’s no stranger to socially conscious works.
Overall, this series is off to a fairly strong start, just like the main character. This creative team is doing its best to honor the source material, but not be beholden to it. Science fiction is a genre meant to allow for the creative freedom to comment on our present world and its issues and, so far, Sector War is accomplishing just that.