NYCC Exclusive: Terminator Returns to the 1980s – With No Kyle Reese To Stop Him!

Art from Terminator: Enemy of my Enemy by Jamal Igle
Credit: Dark Horse Comics

In 1984, a cyborg assassin known as the Terminator came back in time from 2029 with one mission: kill Sarah Connor. If it wasn’t for a human resistance fighter from the future named Kyle Reese, he would have succeeded. But in a new comic miniseries just announced at New York Comic-Con, the Terminator is return to the 1980s – and humanity doesn’t have Kyle Reese, or any back-up, to stop him.

Launching this February from Dark Horse, the six issue series Terminator: Enemy Of My Enemy sees the original T-800 return one year after the events of the original Terminator with a deadly mission. But unlike that original movie, there’s no savior from the future to stop him – or even tell the people of 1985 who or what this gun-toting killer is. Series writer Dan Jolley explains that this series will “recapture some of that fear of the unknown” from the original film, keying in the horror aspects of the science fiction franchise. Joining Jolley to create this series is his Firestorm collaborator Jamal Igle. Fresh off stints on G.I. Joe and DC’s Smallville: Season 11 cartoon series, Igle has already designed several new characters for the series – including a new model of Terminator.

For more, Newsarama spoke with Jolley about all-things Terminator, returning to the 1980s, and how the Terminator would fair against his and Igle’s last superhero, Firestorm. Igle sent some exclusive art along for the ride.

Art from Terminator: Enemy of my Enemy by Jamal Igle
Art from Terminator: Enemy of my Enemy by Jamal Igle
Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Newsarama: Dan, what can you tell us about Terminator: Enemy of My Enemy?

Dan Jolley: Terminator: Enemy of My Enemyis a six-issue mini-series that puts the spotlight on three different aspects of the Terminator franchise. First, it's an action story. We get the ball rolling early on, and it just gets faster and faster--each issue I'm trying hard to top myself with how intense the action can get. Second, it revisits one aspect of the original film that I think gets relegated to the background in the sequels: we're playing up the horror element. Y'know, going back and watching the first movie, especially after all the follow-ups, it's easy to forget that initially, Sarah Connor had no idea who or what this juggernaut was that was coming after her. She was terrified, and we're trying to recapture some of that fear of the unknown. Which leads to the third aspect: Terminator: Enemy of My Enemy is a story in which a Terminator gets sent back to achieve an objective, but this time the Resistance can't send anyone after it. So 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.

Nrama: The Terminator franchise is known to jump around in time, and this one goes all the way back to the beginning; the time of the first movie. Can you tell us about this setting?

Jolley: The entire story takes place in 1985, one year after the events of The Terminator. That goes along with the absence of the Kyle Reese analog; there's no one from the future, no one who understands what the Terminator truly is. Everything takes place in the "present." I was fourteen in 1985, and I remember it pretty damn vividly, but we want to be sure to be accurate, so there's a lot of research going on. It's less research, actually, and more verification: "Did that exist in 1985? Let me check...yes! Okay, we're good." A lot of the tech featured in the story was available back then, but at the time was so expensive that it hadn't entered the mainstream. So for example we've got a character using a bag phone, this big-ass handset with a cord leading into a bag where the actual cell unit is, and that was more James Bond-type spy gear than consumer electronics at that point. Plus the art team is having a lot of fun with the hair and clothes and cars from the late 70's and early to mid-80's.

Nrama: The title refers to “enemy of my enemy;” who are the enemies here?

Jolley: One of the main characters--the catalyst for the whole story, really--is a research scientist named Elise Fong. She's been working on a new treatment for melanoma, and it's led her to a discovery that would let her grow human skin in a lab, cheaply and efficiently (once the technology catches up to her theoretical work, at least). Well, her breakthrough has profound implications, and it attracts the attention of a pharmaceutical company that's been getting rich on cancer treatment drugs--not the kind of attention she wants. It also sets off alarms within Skynet, because what Fong is doing could cause huge amounts of problems with the kind of skin that ends up cultivated on Terminator battle chassis after Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Art from Terminator: Enemy of my Enemy by Jamal Igle
Art from Terminator: Enemy of my Enemy by Jamal Igle
Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Nrama: And to clarify, the skin science Fong is developing – Skynet wants to stop it, or they want her to continue it because it’ll lead to the skin they use for Terminators?

Jolley: A certain aspect of Fong's research, involving a kind of genetic failsafe, poses a massive problem for Skynet. Basically, if Fong is allowed to continue her work, Terminators--at least, Terminators as we know them--would cease to exist.

Nrama: Elise Fong is one of several main characters. Who are the others?

Jolley: Enter the second main character: Farrow Greene, a former CIA assassin. Greene is one of the most dangerous humans on the planet, but thanks to some mental and emotional trauma from her past, she ended up botching a CIA op so thoroughly that not only has she been burned with the Agency, but there's also a price on her head. Her one chance to escape with her skin intact is to collect on the massive bounty that the pharmaceutical company has placed on Elise Fong.

But Greene has competition for Fong in the form of the Terminator that Skynet sends back to kill Fong...as well as a company of private mercenaries who think they know what the Terminator is all about.

One formidable opponent needs Fong alive, the other wants her dead, and when the mercenary company gets involved, it creates an unprecedented kind of alliance.

Nrama: Terminator is a storied franchise; can you tell us about your own experience as a fan with the Terminator movies/shows, and how you came to be doing this series?

Jolley: I must have seen Terminator and Terminator 2 fifty or sixty times each over the years since they came out. I saw Terminator 3 and Terminator: Salvation both, but while I enjoyed them, the first two movies in particular hold a really special place for me. That being said, I had never really given much thought to writing any Terminator stuff until Dark Horse editor Brendan Wright called me up and invited me to pitch for this mini-series. I had gotten my creator-owned property, Bloodhound, firmly established at Dark Horse not long before that, and had turned in all the scripts for the new Bloodhound mini-series, Crowbar Medicine (which hits stands October 16). Well, for those readers who don't know about Bloodhound, it features a main character who, aside from being really intelligent, is also huge and brutal and nasty and basically tears shit apart with his bare hands on a regular basis. The impression I got from Brendan is that the guys at Dark Horse said, "Okay--new Terminator mini, not directly connected to any of the movies...who do we have who can write a big scary guy that destroys stuff? ...Dan Jolley." So by the time I got the invitation to pitch, I had already been approved by both Dark Horse and the Terminator licensors. All I needed to do was come up with a story they liked, which I did in short order.

Art from Terminator: Enemy of my Enemy by Jamal Igle
Art from Terminator: Enemy of my Enemy by Jamal Igle
Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Nrama: This new series is a bit of a reunion, as you’re reuniting with your Firestorm collaborator Jamal Igle. What’s it like getting back with him on this?

Jolley: It's not just Jamal on this mini--the brilliant Ray Snyder will be providing inks! And it's fantastic. After my pitch was approved, Brendan and I started talking about who we'd like to see on art, and the first two names I threw out there were Jamal and Ray. Ray and I worked together on multiple projects at DC and Top Cow, many moons ago, and we're old friends, so that was great; Jamal and I have only done the one project together, Firestorm, and I've been trying to figure out how to work with him on something else ever since then, so that was great, too. (Buy Jamal's creator-owned book, Molly Danger, if you haven't already!) But the icing on the cake was that Jamal and Ray, who have never worked together before, turned out to be huge fans of each other's work, and totally thrilled to be collaborating for the first time. I couldn't be more pleased with the way that came together.

Nrama: And since you two are so familiar with Firestorm; how would that DC hero match up against the Terminator and Skynet?

Jolley: And Firestorm is really only limited by his humanity. When I was writing him, Firestorm was essentially a scared kid; he had the power of a god thrust upon him, and was terrified of what he was becoming and what he could do. So if it were a question of Jason Rusch as Firestorm versus Skynet, I'm pretty sure sooner or later a Terminator would find a weak spot of one kind or another and blow his head off.

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