‘Terminator: Sector War #1:’ Advanced Comic Book Review (East Coast, Represent!)

Both Dark Horse Comics and Brian Wood have proved themselves worthy caretakers of the Alien franchise, so one can imagine that more than a few fans welcomed the news that Wood was moving on to another beloved geek franchise with Terminator: Sector War. Set in 1984 and running parallel to the original iconic film in the series, Sector War trades the highways and back alleys of Los Angeles for the mean, gritty, and claustrophobic streets of New York City, and almost, at times, seems like an attempt to analyze Sarah Connor’s plight throughout James Cameron’s 1984 film and then craft an even more difficult scenario for our protagonist to endure and, hopefully, overcome.

MINOR SPOILERS BELOW

Terminator: Sector War #1 introduces readers to Lucy Castro, a NYPD rookie cop working in the South Bronx who suddenly finds herself hunted by a literal killing machine that absolutely will not stop, ever, until she is dead. (Where have we heard that before?)  As one might expect given the franchise, the Terminator is on a similar mission to its counterpart in L.A., seeking to eliminate Castro due to the importance of her future progeny. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the human resistance lead by John Connor was able (or *gulp* willing) to send a human protector back through time to warn or help Castro, and she is left to her own skills and resourcefulness when it comes to defeating her assassin from the future. And, without spoiling anything further, let’s just say Castro’s problems don’t end there.

In an incredibly positive way, Terminator: Sector War feels like Wood tackling the Terminator franchise in very similar ways to what he did with his truly fantastic Aliens: Defiance series. Much like Defiance, Sector War moves a woman of color into the lead role, honoring the feminist tradition of the franchise while also providing us with a complex character who appears (at least in this first issue) to be far more than just a paint-by-numbers Sarah Connor clone.
Furthermore, Wood excelled at making Defiance feel tonally and atmospherically like the Alien films, and Sector War, so far, feels just as genuine and true to Cameron’s first Terminator film.

Of course, one cannot ignore the huge impact of artist Jeff Stokely’s contributions. His interiors and exteriors feel sweaty, smelly, and lived in. His character design is unique and organic in a grounded, real-world sense, and his anime-influenced style adds some legitimate intensity and weight to Lucy’s one-on-one encounter with the Terminator.


FINAL VERDICT: While it will take another issue or two to know for certain, Terminator: Sector War is off to a very promising start, introducing engaging characters and surprising circumstances and obstacles, and delivering a premiere issue with all of the grittiness, brutality, and heart that the Terminator franchise deserves.


Creative Team: Brian Wood (writer), Jeff Stokely (artist), Triona Farrell (colors), Nate Piekos (lettering), Robert Sammelin (cover), Grzegorz Domaradzki (variant cover)

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

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