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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

at popapostle-dot-com
"The Dark Years" Part 1
Terminator: The Dark Years #1
Dark Horse
Writer: Alan Grant
Penciler: Mel Rubi
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Cover: Jae Lee
August 1999


On the eve of Y2K, a Terminator once again hunts Sarah and John Connor; in 2030, vital information on Skynet activity must be delivered to John.


Read the complete story summary at the Terminator Wiki


Notes from the Terminator chronology


This story takes place on New Year's Eve in 1999 and in 2030. 2030 is past the date of John Connor's victory over Skynet in 2029 (as stated in The Terminator), yet we see here that the fight continues.


Didja Know?


The Dark Years was a 4-issue mini-series that follows the Death Valley mini-series and includes the character of Jon Norden, the boy who is mistaken for John Connor, with his mother, Sara, who appeared therein. The title is derived from the speech that John Connor made Kyle Reese memorize for delivery to Sarah in 1984 in The Terminator, where he referred to her years in hiding and raising him for the coming battle as "the dark years".


John Connor would be 15 years old in the 1999 portions of this story.


As a reminder, as previously stated in the study of Death Valley, this story takes place in a timeline in which the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day never occurred.


Didja Notice? 


1999: Page 5 opens on New Year's Eve, 1999, in what appears to be Times Square in New York City. Brilliantly lit ads for Evita, Coca-Cola, and Sony are seen. Evita is a 1978 musical play based on the life of former Argentine leader Eva Peron.


1999: Also on page 5, a man is wearing a placard that says "Y2K" on one side and "END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH" on the other. Y2K was the abbreviation of "Year 2000", itself short for "Year 2000 problem", a shortcoming in many types of computer programming and software written in the 20th Century that used two-digit years for dating, potentially resulting in a huge problem when 2000, i.e. "00" rolled around if computers were to start backdating files, algorithms, etc. to 1900. Some doomsayers thought the rollover to the year 2000 in our electronics-dominated world would cause an all-but-Armageddon. (Of course, thanks to the work of many brave, attractive, sexual-powerhouse IT workers, the crisis was averted with minimal failures.)


1999: On page 6, the Terminator arrives in 1999 New York, making his way to Danzer Medical Facility; later, he refers to it as Danzer Memorial Hospital. There is an Austrian company called Danzer Medical, but no branches in New York that I can find.


2030: This issue introduces cyborg rats, designed to infiltrate and provide information on the whereabouts of human resistance outposts.


2030: Searching his map of Greater Los Angeles for an area with secure escape routes, water supply, food supply, and hidden from spy satellites, Jon Norden guesses that John Connor would be hiding out near Topanga. This is a region in Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles County.


1999: What happened to the taxi driver on page 13? It's not clear whether he got hit by the Terminator's gunshots as Sarah and John flee the vehicle.


2030: Heading for Topanga to search for John Connor on page 14, Walker, Jon, and Jez walk past the crumbled Hollywood Sign in panel 1, and, in panel 3, through what may be intended to be the grounds of the La Brea Tar Pits, except there are dinosaur statues seen here and the La Brea Tar Pits do not have dinosaur statues (or remains), just prehistoric mammals, well after the time of the dinosaurs. In addition, if they walked past the Hollywood sign first and then La Brea, they are heading the wrong direction to get to Topanga! In fact, the orientation of the remains of the Hollywood sign behind them in panel 1 also indicates they are walking in the opposite direction from Topanga. 


2030: On pages 14-15, a couple of unusual machine-force vehicles are seen, not similar to designs commonly seen employed by Skynet forces.


2030: John Connor sports a neatly-trimmed beard. He also does not appear to have the scars on his face seen in previous depictions of him in this time period. 


Unanswered Questions


Why does the Terminator pursuing John and Sarah in 1999 talk to itself throughout the mini-series? Obviously, it allows the reader to know what it is thinking, but it is illogical for the robot to be talking out loud to no one. Why not just present the information as a thought bubble or in a Terminator-POV display text?


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