If you’re a fan of time travel, love triangles, and atomic age retro punk then the reissue of Bruce Zick’s Terminal Point is for you. Originally published in 1993 by Dark Horse Comics, Caliber Comics has restored Terminal Point in all of its DuoShade glory and has recently re-released it as a graphic novel.
Set in 1993, Terminal Point chronicles the exploits of Pilot a web runner employed by a secret agency called Terminus. Pilot rides a sentient time traveling machine called Equus and together they set up terminal points for the agency. Terminal points are set up by Terminus to allow the corporation to control time itself. To do so they must place beacons in territories they don’t own. Setting up the terminal points come at a cost however, much to the disadvantage of the indigenous people who already occupy the land. Things begin to unravel for Pilot when negotiations with a group of indigenous people go horribly awry. Realizing that he’s in trouble and likely to be hunted down by Terminus he travels back to 1946 for safety.
Once in New York, Pilot runs across the sultry and velvet voiced Byrnn Stone. She’s the vocalist at the Silver Crescent Club and the girlfriend of Robert Rhodes, a scientific genius whose inventions get a quantum boost when he’s exposed to tech from the future. A budding love triangle develops as Byrnn is caught between Rhodes and her feelings for Pilot. Tensions escalate between Pilot and Rhodes as Terminus closes on the renegade web runner. What’s a noir story without a little mystery thrown in? Apparently Pilot isn’t all that he appears to be and the true purpose and sinister origins behind his creation threaten to complicate matters even further.
Being from an earlier era in comic book publishing, Terminal Point has one of the story telling devices that I sometimes miss in modern comics: the thought bubble. These are largely extinct for the most part but for a story with element of film noir they act like voiceovers and provide insight into the inner mind of several of the characters.
Zick’s art is very detailed and the Duo-Shade process for adding tones to his linework really give his drawings mood and depth. With advancements in the printing process, Zick’s art finally looks as it was originally intended with deep blacks and lush greys. His steampunk designs give Terminal Point a distinctive look and it’s a visual companion to his previous work, The Zone Continuum. Some of the extras in the graphic novel hint at a connection between the two stories. Perhaps Zick will have the chance to weave the two narratives together one day.
Terminal Point is an entertaining read that is still fresh some 20 plus years after originally hitting the newsstands. It’s a fun mix of atomic age retro punk and film noir with some layers of social commentary just beneath the surface.