The Terminator Printed Media




NOW COMICS (1988-1990) 17 issues

(Stories: Fred Schiller, Ron Fortier, Jack Herman,  Art: Tony Atkins, Thomas Tenney, Robin Ator )

The first Terminator comic book saw the light of the day in 1988. Released by NOW Comics, the debut Terminator series had nothing to do with the movie's dark tone or terminator's portrayal. The series was targeted for very young audience of 10-12 with very bright, colorful and cartoon-like artwork. It followed the adventures of people fighting with machines in 2031 (notably a group of fighters called Sarah's Slammers), although the future war is nothing like what we've seen in the movie. It's bright, shiny, with grass and blue sky. Gone are tanks, darkness and ruins. The whole theme and feel makes it very apparent of who the target audience is, with very few exceptions.

Terminators, often referred to here as 'Nators, look and act nothing like the movie's endoskeletons (with the exception of two issues in which the endos look like the movie one). They also have very human-like characteristics and are depicted as cliché cartoon robots who want to wear people's skin, argue and have Bond-villan like monologues. There's also a Terminator Town, showing how light natured the series was. All the Terminators were bodybuilding types with rocker clothes and sunglasses, some even having long blonde hair and wearing 80s hair band t shirts

Even the logo was changed, underlining the fact that the series was only based on the concept of the movie and didn't have much to do with it thematically or visually, it was more of a GI Joe type of a cartoon. The main characters were sometimes switched around and the action was taking place in various places on Earth, from Tropical Jungle to the Oceans, but mostly in Florida. The series also featured 'Nator babies and wolves. The closest to a recurring villain that the series had was DIX-190 (also referred to as Terminator 101), later nicknamed Goliath after receiving an upgrade, an exceptionally sadistic (!) Terminator with personal vendetta (!) against Konrad, a human friendly android created by people on the moon colony. Konrad's best friend happens to be Tim Reese, Kyle Reese's little brother

Skynet appears in one issue as a shape changing hologram, taking the form of Benjamin Franklin and a circus entertainer, and is also a mustache twirling, cartoon villain. The NOW series is an interesting look at how an 80's Saturday Morning cartoon Terminator series would be

'The Terminator' survived as it was for 17 issues until experiencing a big revolution 





(Story: Ron Fortier, Art: Alex Ross) 5 issues

After receiving some continuous criticism from the fans in the letter columns, NOW Comics decided to completely revamp 'The Terminator' comic book and had a 'reboot' of sort.

Starting with #1, "The Burning Earth" was a 5 part story published between March-July 1990. This time, the mini-series was heavily tied to the movie with an incredible attention to visual detail and fantastic recreation of the war and world seen in the movie.

The previous incarnation of the series was almost completely disregarded (however the continuity is somewhat intact, the story takes place 10 years later and still features Tim Reese as the only returning character) and the story was now very gloom, dark and gritty with very mature writing targeted for much older audience. The entire series was painted by the famous Alex Ross, who did every cover and every panel and recreated in great detail the ruins, landscape, Ground and flying HKs and terminator endoskeletons, as well as Resistance's uniforms and accessories. The 'back to roots' approach was signaled by the inclusion of the movie logo and lettering for the first time. Terminators are portrayed as emotionless silent cold killers in a very spooky way.

The Burning Earth tells a grim and depressing story of the final battle between the resistance and Skynet (here shown as an emotionless giant operating computer), with a great, chilling , open ended horror ending. It also features a new addition to the terminator lore, which are heavily armored field terminators who somehow resemble the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica

It's a very accurate representation and a great companionship to the movie, and possibly the best Terminator comic book based off the original movie



(Story: Chuck Dixon, Art: Diego and Desol) 2 issues

"All My Futures Past" tells the story of the time travel. Two teenage boys, somewhere far away in the valley untouched by the war, witness a fighter being shot down and talk to the dying pilot who gives them important data to deliver to John Connor. The data of course is about Skynet's plans to sent it's newest infiltration unit terminator, back to 1984. Brave boys make it to LA and witness Reese being sent back after the killer.

Fully painted, although in a very different style and tone from Ross'. This 2 issue mini series goes back to the greens and blue skies and the story isn't much more than one liners and shooting. Also, in here it's John who orders Kyle Reese to follow the terminator in the time machine, instead of Reese volunteering. Although not named, the story features the 600 series terminators, seen in the panel below on the right

DARK HORSE COMICS (1990 - 2015)

TERMINATOR: TEMPEST (1990) 4 issues

(Story: John Arcudi, Art: Chris Warner)

Dark Horse Comics took over the license and started their own series in August 1990. Unlike NOW, which continued on after the events from the movie and didn't touch the movie's story, DH decided to fiddle with canonicity and set the story in the present. DH was also a return to the typical 80's comic book style, although still with more mature scripts. To be fair, in the letter columns, Dark Horse explained with the techniques used at the time they couldn't get the dark tone a painted comic would have

While a good and well written comic book, it lacked the tone.  Also, there was just too much tweaking with the story, with numerous time travels, revisions and all that, eventually ending with Connor being born a girl!

Tempest tells a story of a group of five resistance fighters who come back in time to 1990 to prevent Skynet's creation, and they're followed by three terminators and a human-machine hybrid 1825M. In this continuity, the minds behind Skynet is Dr Hollister who owns Cyberdyne and is being protected by the terminators and Dr. Astin. Both heavily resemble the two actors from the deleted scene in the movie who find the chip in the factory. The series develops a new strong female character, Mary, who leads the resistance team back in time. The 1825 Hybrid, who is mostly human, switches sides thanks to the lack of influence of Skynet

It is also the first time the terminators are referred to as the 800 series in the comic book world. Also interesting to note is that this series begun its run after the sequel had been announced.



TERMINATOR: ONE SHOT (1991) 1 issue

(Story: James Robinson, Art: Matt Wagner)

Taking a break from the ongoing story of Mary and the failed attempt to erase Skynet, Dark Horse released a large one issue story darkly illustrated by Matt Wagner. Here, DH fiddles with continuity even more. This story tells us that there were actually two terminators sent to kill Sarah, but this one, fleshed out as a female, got her hands on the newest edition of the phone book and goes after Sarah Connor that isn't listed in the editions available in the phone booths. This "wrong" Sarah is on her honeymoon in San Francisco and this is where the action takes place. We also find out there were two more resistance fighters sent back in time to await terminators' arrival, one was sent to the 50's , one to the 60's.

We also get to see briefly the resistance capturing TDE and seeing the first terminator being sent back in time



(Story: James Robinson, Art: Paul Gulacy)

Secondary Objectives takes us back to the whereabouts of the last survivor from the time traveling team, Colonel Mary Randall who teamed up with Dr Astin and Dudley (the human name of 1825M). One of the three 800s that went back after them, C890.L, also survived and becomes Dark Horse series' recurring villain. The C890.L , now a naked endoskeleton, switches to secondary objectives which is to find Sarah Connor who is presumably hiding somewhere in Mexico. The human trio heads there first to find and warn her, but they cant locate her. Meanwhile, the time travel revolving doors swing again and yet another 800 model, in female flesh designated Z000.M, is sent back through time to aid C890.L in his mission. Dudley and Mary are able to catch and temporarily reprogram C890.L to defeat Z000.M (an apparent influence of the sequel), which he does, but unbeknown to them, survives, albeit heavily damaged.

This is also the last miniseries that was written and released before the sequel hit theaters, as it started its run in July, although continued after its release.




(Story: Ian Edginton, Art: Vince Giarrano)

This series picks up where the last one left off. The time travel revolving doors swing yet again, and four more (!) resistance fighters go back through time to aid Mary, but this time they successfully blow up the TDE. C890.L repairs itself and updates his look with horns and spikes to have extra protection and close range weaponry, as explained in the letter columns. After two issues however, the horns are gone due to heavy criticism from the letter columns where the fans deemed them over the top

Mary and Dudley fall for each other while Dudley continues to fight internally with his machine side trying to regain control, and Dr Astin betrays them both, jealous of their relationship. Interesting character subplots, and the endoskeleton by Giarrano is very accurate as oppose to the previous DH mini series' where it was very stylized. The colors are also nice, with the endoskeleton getting a blue hue akin to the cinematography of the sequel.

The C890.L, who had been the villain since the beginning of the Dark Horse run is destroyed for good. The backup resistance team dies, along with Hollister and Astin. Mary and Dudley remain, joined by detective Sloan who first appeared in Secondary Objectives





(Story: Toren Smith, Adam Warren, Chris Warner, Art: Bill Jaaska)

This is the first Dark Horse mini series that takes place entirely in the future and does not include time travel. It's a  story taking place in Russia with a paranoia of Body Snatchers thrown in. The story tells us that Russia has their Skynet counterpart, Mir, which is Skynet's servant but secretly wishes to turn against him and gather all the power for itself. Mir unleashes new type of Terminators, TS-300 which not only undetectable by humans due to their new lightweight materials and full organs, but also can perfectly replicate personalities of those who they imitate, as their appearance is modeled after real people. The TS-300 dispatches Skynet's 800s but is prevented from destroying Skynet and transferring the control to Mir



TERMINATOR: ENDGAME (1992) 3 issues

(Story: James Robinson, Art: Jackson Guice)

Endgame brings us back to the whereabouts of Mary, Dudley and Det. Sloan, and is the final chapter in their story. Dudley commits suicide fearing that he will lose the mental struggle with his computer part, and Mary and Sloan go to Texas where Sarah Connor is in labor to protect her from, yes, yet another 800 sent back in time. The end of the story shows the outcome of various time travels - Sarah gives birth to a girl, Jane Connor.

This series is the end of Dark Horse's license and is full of sequel's imagery. For example, the terminator melts a circle around him when he arrives, his termovision is full of labels such as "threat assessment", "search mode", and Mary is drawn exactly like Sarah in issue #3

Endgame also retcons the year in which its events happen. It was mentioned three times that the first series and the arrival of Mary and her team took place in 1990, while here its consciously retconned to late 1984. The reason behind it given was that the terminators shouldnt be targeted for Sarah Connor while John is already bron, so to fix the goof a new date was given.




(Story: Alan Grant, Art: Guy Davis, Steve Pugh)

Dark Horse reacquired the rights to the original movie 6 years after their last series ended, and decided to clean the slate and discard their previous continuity. However, they still decided to go against canonicity and set the story in the present, opening up the revolving time travel doors yet again.

This story in particular, very well written by Alan Grant, tells a story of a mother and young song who, unfortunately for them, share their names with Sarah and John Connor and become a target for two terminators, D800-L and D810-X, sent back to 1998 to track them in the Death Valley area. As usual with Mr Grant, the story has a great pacing, narrative and character development. Also, an influence of the sequel is felt when one of the two terminators, D-800-L, is starting to gain consciousness and curiosity after an unexplained mysterious event. He wonders about life and at the end makes his own choice.

Death Valley also features the real Sarah and John Connor, living in California, with Sarah getting through minimum wage jobs to support her and John off the grid. In this continuity and for , perhaps, licensing issues, she isn't shown as a training, hardened woman, and John is just a regular kid playing with toys and rabbits around the house.

The series actually started with an unnumbered issue simply called "Special" and then proceeded with issues number #1-#4



(Story: Alan Grant, Art: Mel Rubi)

The Dark Years tells two stories simultaneously, one in the future, one during the New Years Eve in 1999, in which yes, another Terminator is sent back to trace Sarah and John. Adult John Connor is featured for the first time in the Dark Horse universe, not counting a very brief shadowy cameo in One Shot prologue. The future story shows Connor destroying Skynet's lab in which machines brainwash humans. The 1999 story shows how little John handles the terminator in New York during the New Years Eve festivities.

This story also confirms that young John had no training whatsoever in this continuity - he mentions that he'd never held a gun and only saw one in the movies





TERMINATOR: 2029 (2010) 3 issues

(Story: Zack Wheedon, Art: Andy Macdonald)

Over a decade after their last mini-series, Dark horse brought back their Terminator title in 2010. Touted as a back to the roots approach, the story - also another reboot of DH continuity - takes place in 2029 and introduces the readers to Kyle Reese's best friend Ben. Reese goes back in time and Ben follows him because in one of Skynet's bases he discovers and old, still living Reese who urges him to follow his young self to 1984.

Even thought Dark Horse's license is again based on the original movie only, there is plenty of T2 material slipped through as well. John Connor makes appearance, this time looking like T2's Connor completed with facial scars. For the first time (at Dark Horse), terminator's chip is acknowledged and shown, and for the first time the 800 series is referred to as T-800

Reese's personality for some reason is written as that of a wisecracking teenager

2029 was written by Zack Wheedon, Josh Wheedon's brother.



TERMINATOR: 1984 (2010) 3 issues

(Story: Zack Wheedon, Art: Andy Macdonald)

This is a continuation of the 2029 storyline. 1984 series is like Elseworld - it shows that Reese wasn't really dead by the end of the original movie and was instead taken into government facility. Ben finds Sarah to help him break Reese out which they do. Unfortunately for them, another 101 Terminator that arrived from the future (also in Griffith Park) found them and mortally wounded Reese, but not before Reese was able to blow him up with a grenade launcher. The story also presents an explanation to why only a hand and a chip was at the Cyberdyne vault in T2





(Story: Dan Jolley, Art: Jamal Igle)

Enemy of my Enemy takes place in 1985. A T-800 terminator has been sent back to kill Dr Elise Fong who in the future will develop both lab created skin and a virus that can destroy it. Through circumstances, former top notch CIA agent Farrow Greene is protecting her life. The twist of the story is that at some point for some time Greene and the Terminator must work together up until certain point.




Dark Horse crossovers:

RoboCop vs Terminator

Superman vs Terminator

Aliens vs Predator vs Terminator





Randall Frakes and William Wisher

Published by Bantam Spectra

Randall Frakes is a film and science fiction writer primarily known for his work with long-time friends, Bill Wisher, and James Cameron. His first film work was as a special effects cameraman for Roger Corman, and a number of unproduced screenplays, before his collaborations with Wisher and Cameron, kicked of his professional film-writing career. Because of his personal friendship with Cameron, he had his input in it and approval. Based on that fact, This novelization is as canon as novelization could be.





Shaun Hutson

Published by Star Books

A very different novelization from Frakes and Wisher's version based on the third draft of the script. Van Ling : "Note that there is another, unofficial novelization of the first film that was written by British horror novelist Shaun Hutson for the UK market back when the first film came out. Although it was based on the Cameron/Hurd screenplay and was licensed by the UK rightsholder for the film, it was kind of a knockoff and was in no way sanctioned by the filmmakers or done with any input from Jim. " Hutson admitted that he isn't a big fan





Sean French

Published by British Film Institute

Part of the BFI's "Modern Classics" series; a very bizarre critique and opinion of the film. One which has upset some fans of the movie