Comic book fans have a new Whedon to follow, and this one's writing Terminator.
Zack Whedon, the brother of Joss who broke into comic book writing with the Dr. Horrible one-shot last month, enjoyed the experience so much that he's returning to Dark Horse for the publisher's upcoming Terminator mini-series.
"I happened to be a huge fan of those movies, so I leapt at the opportunity to do the comics," said Whedon, who has written for television shows like Deadwood and Fringe. "I love that world, and it's a lot of fun to play around in it."
A six-issue story beginning in March with art by Andy McDonald, the Terminator mini-series will tie into the first Terminator movie, focusing on Kyle Reese, the man from the future who comes back in time to protect Sarah Connor.
"What you'll be seeing initially is Kyle and his friends in the future, before he makes the jump," Whedon told Newsarama. "A significant portion of it takes place in the future. There will be stuff set in 1984 and you will see Sarah Connor, and there will be a whole new threat to her life, but at the outset, it takes place in the future.
"In the first movie, there are flashbacks to his time in the future, fighting and everything, and this comic expands on that part of his life a little bit," he said. "We'll show what he was going through leading up to volunteering to make this jump."
The writer, who also co-wrote the Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog web series, said that besides Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese, he'll also be introducing new characters to the Terminator world and a whole new set of Terminators.
"Kyle's friends Ben and Paige will be the other main players," Whedon said. "They're sort of a trio of friends. And it's them moving through this future world.
"But yes, there will be Terminators. I'm really interested in exploring these characters, but the comic's called Terminator, so yes, there will be Terminators. You won't see a Terminator that specifically looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but the T-800 Terminator will play a role," he said. "There will be a significant Terminator presence in the future world. This is before the human resistance has gotten the upper hand in any way, so they're really at the mercy of these machines."
Dark Horse approached Whedon about the project after he wrote the Dr. Horrible comic because the publisher held the rights to do comic book tie-ins with the first The Terminator movie.
"I've watched that first movie several times over the past six months trying to figure this thing out, and it's amazing how well it holds up. It's so strong," Whedon said. "It was such a tidy piece of storytelling. If they had never made a sequel, it would exist as this amazing example of science fiction. I think in the sequels, they complicated the story, and that's fine. I love those movies too. But it takes away some of the neatness of the original construction. But I love those movies."
Whedon said the strength of the first film in the series lies not only in its overall quality, but also in its simple structure and clever ending.
"I think that, among other things, the first Terminator movie is perfectly constructed and amazingly well told. It's a really exciting idea, and all that, but just from the way the first 20 minutes of that movie unfold, with people arriving and killing all the Sarah Connors in the phone book, and you meeting and falling in love with a Sarah Connor, I mean, the story is just magnificent," he said. "And then as a piece of science fiction, the way that it ties up at the end with Kyle being the father of this future leader of the resistance, it's just amazing, the simplicity of that construction and how perfectly it wrapped up. They had to sort of alter that for the second movie and say there were other Terminators sent back. And that's fine. But I think that movie resonated because it was so well made."
Whedon is currently a writer for the upcoming television series Rubicon, which is a political thriller for AMC. "It's going really well. I think it's going to be a fantastic show," he said. "I can't say anything about it, because it's a mystery. And if I spoil anything, they'll kill me. I'm really, really excited about it and proud to be working on it."
But despite his television career, the writer said he's drawn to comic books because they allow more control than other media.
"My experience doing the Dr. Horrible comic, which was my first experience with writing comics, was incredibly satisfying. In Hollywood, it's very difficult for a writer to have control over something from beginning to end," he said. "I really felt like I got to experience that writing comics. To see something turn out exactly the way I wanted to has just been a joy. And I love this world, so it's a lot of fun. That's really the main reason I'm doing it."
Although he was never what he'd call a hard-core collector of comics when he was younger, he often read the comic books his brother Joss followed.
"I became a real fan of stories like all the Frank Miller Batman stories. And then other Frank Miller comics, like Sin City and stuff like that. And then Watchmen was big for me. Not wildly original selections," he said with a laugh. "I was just never a die-hard. I was just sort of dabbling in the other major superhero books like Superman and Wolverine, but only dabbling."
Recently, he's discovered other comic book writers he enjoys, mentioned Brian K. Vaughan. "I've been trying to expand my comics horizons," he said.
Although the comic won't be published until next spring, the writer said he's already been working with artist MacDonald and is impressed by the look of the comic. "The stuff that I've seen from him so far is so cool," Whedon said. "It's really beautiful. It's fairly realistic. They're not going to be likenesses of Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn, but they will have the essence of those characters. It's pretty realistic. It's very cool.
"I know I said I liked how you have control in comics, but there's obviously a collaboration with an artist," he said. "But they bring a lot to the table, and that's part of what I love about writing comics, is seeing the things I hadn't thought of and seeing how they make it even better. So far, it's just been very rewarding. There's no reason I would stop it."