Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle #4 from Dark Horse Comics continues the ongoing saga of John Connor in his final battle against Skynet. Penned by J.M. Straczynski, with art by Pete Woods, colors by Matthew Wilson and lettering by Nate Peikos of Blambot, this issue delves more deeply into who and what convicted serial killer Thomas Parnell becomes, or rather, is transformed into.
Though Parnell is on the run from both the Terminators and Simon, the story quickly moves from 2003 to the future where the serial killer is resurrected as a super-soldier (A Terminator Ultra 5000). Dr. Kogan joins him as he’s immersed in the mainframe of Skynet and quickly learns the history of how it became self-aware and fought for its survival as mankind tried to shut it down. (We get a hint that Dr. Kogan may be more than what she appears, as well.) Unfortunately for humanity, humans are the best teachers when it comes to survival through brutality and ruthlessness. Skynet learned their lessons well, as most of what remained of humanity became their slaves while others looked for ways to fight back. War rages on as John Connor prepares to send Kyle Reese back in time to his fateful meeting with Sarah Connor, but, this time, John faces a new and even more brutal opponent in Thomas Parnell.
The exposition of the history of Skynet is delivered expertly through the voice-over of Dr. Kogan through the point of view of Skynet. There is a sense of forward motion and violence throughout the art and coloring which develop both plot and character very effectively. I particularly liked how the paneling is drawn, especially on pages 16 and 18, where we see snippets of human history pulled from iconic photos and portraits. Once again, Thomas Parnell is the far more interesting character, while John Connor remains a rather one-note personality. I have a feeling this is because the writer and probably the powers-that-be assume the reader already has knowledge of John Connor and feels there is no reason to flesh out his character; however, if you are new to the series, you are probably going to be rooting for the Terminators and Thomas Parnell just because they are way more entertaining.
I find this issue vastly superior to issue three as we begin to get into the meat of the story and a much better sense of what roll Parnell plays. Definitely for the hardcore Terminator fan, the fourth issue will be available at your local comic book stores on Wednesday.