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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

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Terminator: Fragmented (Part 1) "Fragmented" Part 1
Terminator 3 #5 (Beckett Comics)
Story: Jeff Amano
Writer: Miles Gunter
Artist: Kieron Dwyer
Cover: Jeff Amano


Skynet continues to disrupt the timeline in its quest to destroy John Connor.


Story Summary


A damaged T-950 Terminator of unspecified male model comes to awareness in a burning cabin. A human body holding a gun is burning nearby. Suddenly a SWAT tank crashes through a wall and a squad of SWAT members follows, firing guns at the Terminator. He takes down several of the SWAT team and as he prepares to flee the burning cabin, he spots a note pinned to the wall, "Gone to shoot some stick. See you manana--John." The Terminator escapes and finds a nearby bar advertising pool. He goes in, looking for his programmed target, John Connor. After an altercation involving the destruction of the bar's mechanical bull, the Terminator spots his quarry and catches up to him. The Terminator's damaged memory can't decide if it's programmed for assassination or protection of the target, but decides on protection. John and the Terminator talk over food at a bowling alley. Then a female T-950 shows up and the two Terminators begin battling. The female temporarily halts the male and grabs up John, but doesn't kill him, taking him with her in a truck instead.




Notes from the Terminator chronology


This story must take place in an alternate timeline than that of Rise of the Machines since it depicts John Connor meeting an assassin Terminator and a protector Terminator T-950 while human civilization still flourishes. Yet, the inside front cover of this issue features an excerpt from the diary of John Connor in which he states that even after the rise of the machines, Skynet continued to disrupt the timeline with its attempts to kill him, implying the two-part story of Fragmented tells of one of these attempts. And he also states in the diary entry that, meeting these Terminators, he was "without the relative comfort of the familiar robots that had become my friend..." implying that he had met at least two of the "friend" model (the 101 Model, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger as the protector Terminators in Judgment Day and Rise of the Machines). This makes figuring where this story takes place difficult; it has to be before Rise of the Machines, yet he seems to have met the second protector Terminator from the movie already! We can only assume that this story is part of a timeline in which the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day took place as depicted in that film, but an alternate version of Rise of the Machines followed, one in which Skynet attempted to rise, but was thwarted by our heroes...possibly based on the alleged alternate ending of the film that was shot, one in which another T-850 arrives at Crystal Peak and destroys the Skynet core (instead of the nuclear holocaust seen in the released version).


Didja Know?


Terminator 3 was a 6-part mini-series published by Beckett Comics in 2003, coinciding with the release of the theatrical film, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Due to the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Judgment Day itself has been delayed from its "original" date in 1997. The first two issues of this mini-series are titled "Before the Rise" and cover the events in 2032 leading up to Skynet sending the T-X series Terminator back in time to 2004 to kill John Connor's future officers before Judgment Day. Issues 3 and 4 are titled "Eyes of the Rise" and tell the Rise of the Machines story from the perspective of the T-X. Issues 5 and 6 are titled "Fragmented" and tell of events taking place some time after an alternate version of Rise of the Machines in which Judgment Day did not occur.


No date or locale is given for the events of this 2-part story.


The two Terminators in this story are both T-950 Series. They seem to be a cross between the T-900 endoskeletons seen in Before the Rise and "Heralds of the Rise" and the T-X seen in Rise of the Machines. The two T-950 Terminators seen here seem to have flesh-covered bodies like a standard Terminator, but also have liquid metal forearms that can allow the emergence of various sophisticated weapons, just like the T-X. The T-950s are unable to alter their facial, or general physical, appearance. (Although the bullet hits on each T-950 often seem to have the liquid metal impact effect on their bodies!). The story, action, and art here are actually pretty interesting, but very jumbled in terms of anything resembling the Terminator 3 continuity it allegedly follows.


Didja Notice?


The inside front cover of this issue features an excerpt from the diary of John Connor. In it, he states that even after the rise of the machines, Skynet continued to disrupt the timeline with its attempts to kill him, implying the two-part story of Fragmented tells of one of these attempts. But it clearly takes place before the "rise of the machines" since human civilization is till going strong.


On page 5, a SWAT tank smashes through the wall of a house. SWAT is a police special ops force (Special Weapons And Tactics).


On page 6, a SWAT member accuses the large man they face (who turns out to be a Terminator) of being on PCP. PCP is Phencyclidine, a powerful hallucinogenic, dissociative drug used by some people illegally for recreational purposes and which can have an analgesic effect on the body as well, deadening pain receptors for a time.


Notice pages 1-12 are cleverly drawn so the reader never sees the full left side of the Terminator's head, delaying the revelation that there is a railroad spike imbedded halfway in.


The big cat being held in a pen outside the cabin on page 15 appears to be a cheetah, judging by the simple black spots on its fur, as opposed to the rosette-type spots on similar big cats such as the leopard and jaguar.


On page 16, the SWAT sergeant refers to the Terminator, still thinking it's a man, as a "piece of amphetamine trash." Amphetamines are a type of stimulant.


Only part of the word is visible, but the bar the Terminator enters appears to be called the Longhorn.


On page 19, a member of the bar crowd is saying, "She's a Capricorn, he's a Libra!" Capricorn and Libra are astrological signs of the modern zodiac.


On page 23, panel 5, one of the bar patrons is drinking what appears to be Star Beer. There is a real world beer brand by that name brewed in Ghana, but this is probably not the intended brand in the story. Since the scene involves a mechanical bull, the beer is probably a generic reference to Lone Star Beer, which was prominently featured in the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy, which is also known for some scenes of mechanical bull riding.


On page 26, the Terminator tosses a man into a fenced cactus patch. Apparently this bar has a cactus patch inside the bar!


On page 27, panel 1, a neon sign for "Loti on tap" is seen in the bar. As far as I can tell Loti is a, I guess.


John Connor is depicted with blond hair throughout this story. I guess he must have dyed it as part of a disguise to hide his true identity.


On page 30, we see John is making his escape in a Chevrolet pick-up.


On page 31, panel 1, a possibly Ford pick-up is seen in the background.


On page 34, John is surprised to learn from his "protector" Terminator that the hunter Terminator sent to kill him is simply another of the same model instead of a more advanced version as is usual. He is, of course, referring to the T-1000 and T-X John had to face in Judgment Day and Rise of the Machines.


On page 34, the Terminator helps John get a package of Reo's cookies out of the vending machine at the bowling alley. This is a sort of parody of Oreo cookies.


Unanswered Questions


The opening scenes of this issue imply that John was staying in a cabin with a very attractive young woman (we see a couple of photos of a bikini clad girl pinned to the wall and a handwritten note pinned next to them, "Gone to shoot some stick. See you manana--John." "Stick" is a euphemism for the game of pool. "Manana" (sic) is Spanish for tomorrow. Is the woman John's girlfriend? Was she the burning body seen at the beginning of the issue? And why is the cabin filled with taxidermy animal specimens? Has John become an avid hunter and displayer of trophies? Do they belong to the woman? Someone else? A hint as to the concept behind the cabin may be present in "Fragmented" Part 2, when the male T-950 regains some of its past programming, telling it to acquire Connor through known mercenary contacts; the burning body may also be John's mercenary friend, then.


Why is a cheetah being held in a pen outside the cabin? Waiting to be killed as another exhibit?


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