SICK!!! That's the best word to describe what is going on at the beginning of Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle Issue #5. The machines as a part of their master plan of defeating the humans, have enlisted serial killer Thomas Parnell to do their dirty work. Parnell is a transplant from the past and has been imported because the machines recognize that humans will always overcome the machines due to desire, heart, and determination. So what better way to fight them, than with one of their own who thinks like them (kind of) and has that same heart and desire (albeit, a little more twisted in his delivery). Parnell has been wired into the mainframe of the machines and he feels everything the machines feel, to include the death blows to the humans. Needless to say, Parnell is in his version of heaven and he renders cold sadism that simply has to be seen to be believed. Yet another master stroke on a very good miniseries written by J. Michael Straczynski and illustrated to perfection by Pete Woods. These comics are really beginning to add up to be some pretty impressive offerings into the Terminator continuum. The creative team is really doing it right.
We are now also getting to the point of the story that we kind of know. That is, we are to where the original T-800 and Kyle Reese are entering into the time portal. This issue covers the build up to that event. Of course, there have been several terminators that have entered since as well as another human that we have absolutely no idea as to how they crossed over. This is just one tantalizing issue to find out how it all plays out in the many chapters to come.
Straczynski has been blowing up the writing duties. But I believe that this issue has been his best effort to date. Watching the way he fiendishly crafts Parnell in this issue is something to behold. The guy is creepy and Straczynski plays it to maximum effect as the sheer nirvana felt by Parnell as he indulges in his talents at killing and destroying is put to use. Likewise, the sheer repulsion and confusion by the humans as they encounter some of Parnell's handiwork is on display too. But that’s not all. Moments like those are covered wonderfully and then the gears switch as Kyle Reese and John Connor share a moment before the time portal jump. It is touching and heartfelt, yet done in a grunt-like way that speaks true to the characters.
Like Thomas Parnell, Pete Woods seems to really enjoy portraying the carnage through his art. I am not quite sure how he does it, but he draws the machines like they do have a little piece of Parnell within them (which they do). It is something about their smirk that works as a pretty sweet effect in a really great issue. He and Straczynski are bringing it and I can't wait to see what more surprises are in store for us.
If this pace keeps up, Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle might just be a crowning jewel in a fantastic mythos. It is blending all the best elements of everything that has preceded it and it just quite simply entertains to a grade “A” level. Here's hoping that the remaining issues continue to deliver a powerful metallic punch as it crosses over the halfway mark.
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski Artist: Pete Woods Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/2/14 Format: Mini-Series – Print/Digital