Terminator : Burning Earth
So, this is an interesting gem. Set in the Terminator universe, after the first film, and with little to no knowledge of a sequel film in the works, it is a tale that blazes forth with the ambition of wrapping up the post-apocalyptic world in one foul swoop.
First and foremost among the charm is this body of work is the opening foray in what was destined to be a legendary career mapped out by one Alex Ross. It is amazing to see such a marked and well-honed style being developed and fleshed out. Many of the monikers of Ross’ career exist in this trade, but his ability to maintain consistency is something that apparently developed further down the road. Characters fluctuate in appearance and build, often going from photo-realistic, back to a more generic and rushed appearance.
His color-work bounces back and forth from the bleak to the vibrant, and though he does an amazing job of crafting a bleak aesthetic, in the midst of action he loses composure. The chaos of war is clearly intended to be invoked, but it comes at a loss to the reader, when I simply cannot connect the dots and, in spite of my best efforts, find myself utterly lost. Half the time I cannot tell who just died. It was one of the rare instances where I found myself skimming back several pages just to identify the body and the character. I almost needed dental records.
The narrative, however, does seem to come along with a bit more strength. Ron Fortier’s work has less of that sophomoric charm and does seem to ring with the voice of a veteran. If anything, I feel the tale might have been a bit brief, and given another issue or two to flesh out characters, and establish connections, might have made the pile of bodies lining the pages have a bit of potency and meaning.
The tale of futuristic John Conner (who sometimes goes by “Bear” I think? I don’t know, like I said, the art often left me a bit muddled) is one set on a breakneck pace. Action dominates, and, in classic 80’s action fashion, we get a ton of explosions with very little setting or plot. To be honest, without seeing the movies beforehand, anyone who attempts this book is mostly going to be confused, or simply not care.
Given the limited page space this story was granted, it honestly is not a bad read. It would be something I would LOVE to see re-mastered with writer and artist giving this juvenile work a once over. There is a lot of potential here, but it does not manage to reach it. It tries so hard to fill blockbuster shoes, without being granted the blockbuster budget or screen time, and for all its efforts, it is admirable, if stunted.
In summation, it’s like looking at an Alex Ross time machine, and, if nothing else, that makes it worth a glimpse. The story is fast and aggressive, but a bit skeletal, and could benefit a bit from some meaty character development and plotting. It’s basically a fun read, but not a great deal more.
2 ½ out of 5