Transformers vs Terminator #1 is a crossover comic published by IDW Publishing. Written by David Mariotte and John Barber, with additional story credit given to Tom Waltz. Art by Alex Milne and colours by David Garcia Cruz. Letters and design by Jake M. Wood. The plot starts out in the future, as is the norm for most Terminator comics. This iteration is different because the Terminators/Skynet had their own Judgement Day, this time at the hands of the Decepticons. One of the Terminators is sent into the past to stop the Decepticons before they take over. The structure and speed of the plot is easy to follow in this early stage if you’re a fan of the Terminator franchise or dystopian sci-fi films in general.
After reading my fair share of crossovers involving the Transformers, I have found that writers will almost always place the Cybertronians in the world of the universe they are interacting with. And there have been books where that fusion doesn’t work simply because the two worlds aren’t compatible. But Transformers vs Terminator #1 does start well at merging the two properties. Unfortunately, the second half of the book strays away from the Transformers side of the plot. While that’s not necessarily a negative, I didn’t find the Terminator character fascinating enough on his own to draw the readers in.
Mariotte and Barber combine the two properties well and accomplish the difficult task of setting the right tone for the series. This is not a comic book for young children. The customary scene of the Terminator murdering a jerk for his clothes and cars takes place, and there are dead Transformers from the start. There are some hardcore battles awaiting us.
Sarah Connor is the one main human character used in the comic. Mariotte and Barber immediately make her likeable and interesting, like her movie counterpart. She isn’t the fully realised badass that she is destined to become, but signs of character development are already evident. But she is made to feel like a secondary character in the first issue, with center stage being made available to the Terminator. Even the Transformers are limited in their appearances. The only Decepticon that has dialogue is Starscream, written perfectly in his dialogue. When I read the character, I have that high-pitched, whining tone that’s used in many cartoons in my head.
The Terminator isn’t entirely interesting yet, but I am intrigued into finding out whether there is more than meets the eye with this particular iteration. My major issue with it was that it was too talkative at points. This aspect feeds into my hope that this is a narrative decision made by the writing team, as opposed to being out of character. But there are other cases where other T-800s use emotive language in their dialogue, which is very out of character and damaging to the immersion while reading them. But there are also instances where the Terminator feels like the old character. When it starts having a slugfest with the much bigger robots it calls its enemies, I expect the character to be much more recognizable.
The art by Milne is very fun to look at. When the Transformers do make appearances, they look incredibly imposing and menacing. There are more details on them in Transformers vs Terminator #1 than in other series, making them fit in more in the futuristic landscape beyond Judgement Day. And the endoskeletons of the fleshless Terminators are enriched by Milne’s linework. The colours used on the Cybertronian by Garcia Cruz are dulled, ensuring their transition into this darker context isn’t so jarring to the readers. There are sound effects utilized by Wood, but only sporadically included. This helps the action by not cluttering the panels, especially when Milne has put so much effort into including that much detail on the robots.
Transformers vs Terminator #1 runs on a concept that could be interesting, but not quite interesting enough yet. There are promising examples of an exciting series forming, and there is certainly a promise of action, but there isn’t enough in issue #1 for the comic to stand out by itself. The art does make the pages look beautiful, and I’m particularly interested in how more of the Transformers are designed, but the fight scenes screamed too much of trying to exist as references, full of callbacks and the same one-liners we’ve all seen before. There is potential in this series, it just lacks spark.
Transformers vs. Terminator #1
Transformers vs Terminator #1 runs on a concept that could be interesting, but not quite interesting enough yet. There are promising examples of an exciting series forming, and there is certainly a promise of action, but there isn’t enough in issue #1 for the comic to stand out by itself.