‘Terminator’ flashback: ‘Terminator/Painkiller Jane: Time to Kill’ (2008)

The track record of crossovers in the "Terminator" saga has been a bit shaky so far, with guest appearances by "Robocop," "Superman," "Aliens" and "Predator." Of all things, it turns out to be "Painkiller Jane" that provides the most entertaining crossover up to this point with Dynamite Comics' four-issue "Terminator/Painkiller Jane: Time to Kill" (2008).

Written by "Jane" creator Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Nigel Raynor, who also did "Infinity," this series originally ran in Dynamite's "Terminator 2" Issues 6 and 7 and "Painkiller Jane" Volume 2 Issues 4 and 5. "Time to Kill" works because of Palmiotti and Raynor's kinetic action stylings, the banter between Jane and Maureen and the fact that these two worlds sync up so well. Jane's healing ability makes her a perfect candidate to take on a Terminator.

(Interesting trivia tidbit: Kristanna Loken, the T-X in "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," went on to play the title character in the "Painkiller Jane" TV series.)


John Connor: The leader of the Resistance in 2029.

Sarah Connor: Not in this story.

Kyle Reese: He gets sent back in time from 2029 to 1984 as per the traditional story.

Jane Vasko: The "Painkiller Jane" title character has her Wolverine-like healing powers thanks to a "drug cocktail," we're told in the introduction. But her daughter in the Future War, Vanessa Vasko, also has those powers, so apparently it's somehow genetic.

Maureen: Jane's best friend and an NYPD lieutenant. The connection to Maureen is why Jane is able to help out on cases without officially being on the force. Kind of an Angel and Kate thing, to use an "Angel" reference.

Vanessa Vasko: Jane's daughter, she is a crucial member of the Resistance due to her healing ability -- so much so that John thinks if he sends her back to 2008 to pursue the Terminator, the loss of Vanessa in the battlefield could turn the tide of the war against them.


Female Terminator (a T-800 or a T-X?): The Terminator that goes from 2029 to 2008 seems to be a T-X from the way it uses its tongue to analyze a blood sample. It also blows up pretty good, as if it has one of those more advanced fuel cells, although I suppose a T-800 could blow up too. Everything else points to it being a T-800: It has a traditional endoskeleton underneath its skin, it doesn't look like the default T-X visage from "T3," and it does not show any T-X powers other than the ability to analyze a blood sample. Also, until things go haywire, it is part of the same mission where the T-800 goes to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor; Skynet intended to send two Terminators. So it makes sense that she is also a T-800. When it ends up in 2008 NYC – where John Connor is not located -- it embarks on a convenient secondary objective of killing Jane Vasko.

Another female Terminator: In the Future War, we see what presumably is a T-800 with short blond hair. It looks very much like Eve, the T-799 (essentially the first T-800) from the Blackford trilogy.

The 1984 Arnold T-800: We see it go back through the time-travel device just before the Resistance forces arrive on the scene.

Shark Terminator: This story's L.A. Skynet fortress with the Continuum Transporter is surrounded by water and protected by shark Terminators.

Endoskeletons: The standard battlefield robot.


"Time to Kill" is split between Jane's story in the "present" – 2008 New York City – and the Future War of 2029 Los Angeles. It tells us via the "Terminator 2" cover logo that it is part of the "T2" franchise. However, it is clearly a different from the continuity introduced in "T2: Infinity," despite the fact that it's part of the same numbering system as that title! ("Infinity" was "T2" Issues 1-5, and Issues 6 and 7 are part of this crossover series.) The tipoff is that 2008 New York City is pre-apocalypse, and in "Infinity" Judgment Day happened in 2004. Aside from the title, one could make a strong case that it branches from the "T1" timeline (more on that in the Timelines and Time Travel section).

The female Terminator's time bubble emerges in a bar restroom. She finds the clothes of Maureen to be a match, and the action ensues. Much as the female bar patrons ogled the nude Arnold T-850 in "T3," the male patrons do the same to the female Terminator here.

Vanessa's time bubble emerges in a clothing store, conveniently enough. Kyle also gets some of his clothes from a clothing store in the first movie and "Genisys."

Interestingly, while John is not in NYC in 2008 when the Terminator shows up, he was there in 2000 in "The Dark Years," from the Dark Horse "T1" timeline. So it's possible that this story's "Terminator" didn't miss him by much.


Palmiotti gives us yet another version of the famous 2029 time machine sequence. He doesn't name the machine, which was previously called a time-displacement unit, time-displacement equipment, time vault and Continuum Transporter. I'll use "Continuum Transporter," or CT, as it is the most recent term used. This is the first version where there are two CT compartments side by side. As with most CTs, these can be programmed for date and location. (The first ones we saw, back in "All My Future's Past," could be programmed only for a date; the location was fixed. The most advanced version, in the Blackford trilogy, had a third programmable dimension: You could choose the timeline.) In one CT, the T-800 goes back to 1984, then Kyle later follows it. In the other, a female Terminator that was intended to team up with the Arnold T-800 accidentally ends up in 2008 NYC when the Resistance damages the CT. Vanessa then follows it in the other CT.

On this timeline, we know J-Day occurred after 2008 because when Vanessa thinks about going back to 2008, she thinks of "clean air."

Although the title clearly tells us this story is on a "T2" timeline, we don't see the scene of the T-1000 and the reprogrammed T-800 going back to 1995. Aside from the title, all other evidence – including the lack of any references to the events of 1995 -- points to this story actually branching from the "T1" timeline. However, none of that precludes "Time to Kill" from existing on a "T2" timeline, as the time travel leading to the 1995 events could happen after what we see in this story.

Although Palmiotti probably did not intend for this story to branch from a specific established timeline, one could argue that it branches from Dark Horse's "T1" saga because those comics never provided a definitive date for J-Day (although we know it had to have happened at some point, due to the Future War scenes). The primary timeline of the Blackford/Tiedemann "T2" saga also finds the world safe from J-Day in 2008, and in the Jade's World portion of that series, J-Day doesn't occur until 2021.

Regardless of whether this is a "T1" or "T2" yarn, it clearly is on a new time branch, because the time travel sequence is unlike any we've seen previously; it is most obviously distinguished by the twin Continuum Transporters.