Dynamite Comics seemed to have little regard for continuity when it abruptly and inexplicably switched to a new timeline between Issues 5 (the last issue of "Infinity") and 6 (the first issue of the "Painkiller Jane" crossover) of its "Terminator 2" title. After "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" TV show gave us still another new version of post-"T2" continuity in 2008, Dynamite came back with "Terminator: Revolution" (2009). Despite the new numbering system, though, this is a continuation from the "Infinity" universe rather than yet another reboot.
Also refreshing, the five-issue "Revolution" is much better than "Infinity," despite still being written by Simon Furman (Lui Antonio takes over art duties). Whereas "Infinity" was an overly familiar story of John going from whiny kid to respected leader, "Revolution" goes in fresh directions.
While there are unquestionably some contradictions to established lore here, it is a fun action yarn – following the traditional "simultaneous" action-at-two-points-in-time (1996 and 2015) structure. It also informs us of the time-travel trigger for this new timeline, something that was not mentioned in "Infinity."
John Connor: He's the respected Resistance leader in 2015, having completed his late-bloomer heroes' journey in "Infinity." His 1996 self is the John from "Terminator 2," one year older.
Sarah Connor: She's working as a waitress in 1996 in New Orleans as she tries to keep herself and John off the radar of the law and Terminators.
Kyle Reese: He was introduced as an orphan in the 2009-set "Infinity," and by 2015, he's the adopted son of John and Tara Connor. He seems to be about 10-13 years old here. It's not explicitly stated, but it seems quite clear that John has informed Tara of Kyle's destiny.
Tara (Holden) Connor: She's John's wife and a respected leader in her own right.
T-Infinity: The same villain from "Infinity," it's a high-tech, plasma-blade-wielding Terminator with a built-in ability to travel through time. It can also take humans with it through time if they are in contact with it. It absorbs bullets and plasma blasts fired at it, but the good guys figure out its one weakness: It needs to see those projectiles in order to stop them. If it's distracted, it can be beaten.
T-850s: In 1996 in New Orleans, John and Sarah are pursued by eight (!) of the same model, with goatees, sunglasses, Killswitch Engage T-shirts and leather jackets.
The Dire Wolf: Like the T-Infinity, it is a Terminator with a built-in time travel ability. Even more impressive, it can track the T-Infinity through time. We also saw a wolf Terminator back in the Now Comics.
CONTINUITY AND CONTRADICTIONS
"Revolution" picks up from the cliffhanger to "Infinity," where the T-Infinity announces its intent to target Tara Connor in 2015. Although defeated in "Infinity," it survives and regroups at the 2033 Dismal River, Nebraska, Skynet hub, then goes back to 2015 to attack Tara.
One of the covers to "Revolution" Issue 1 shows John as a Terminator. This is a stylized representation of the fact that young John mistakes older John for a Terminator; he isn't literally a Terminator here. However, two future continuities picked up the concept of John-as-Terminator: He gets a machine heart in "Salvation" and is a flat-out Terminator in "Genisys."
Kyle being the adopted, smothered son of John and Tara is a stark contrast to "All My Future's Past" (the first "T1" story of the 2029 time travel) and "Nuclear Twilight" (the first "T2" story of the 2029 time travel), where John keeps his distance from Kyle so as not to mess with destiny. The Connors' overprotectiveness of Kyle is consistent (John kept Kyle away from the most dangerous missions in "Nuclear Twilight"), but because the Connors meet Kyle at such a young age here, one wonders how he developed any fighting skills. Maybe it's just in his DNA. Indeed, he does break free of his mom's overprotectiveness to contribute to the fight in "Revolution."
The Skynet Missile Command Center is in Buffalo, N.Y. This is unique to this timeline. Come to think of it, previous timelines tended to be vague about where the nuclear missiles were launched from, although Skynet's main HQ was almost always in Colorado.
When Tara and her team successfully take over Skynet's computers and launch a nuclear missile that destroys Skynet's Nebraska hub, the Resistance has seemingly won the war in 2015. This is, of course, much earlier than the traditional 2029 date of Resistance victory (and that date is pushed back even later in other continuities). However, John had just experienced 1996 New Orleans events that were slightly different from the first time around, so he's doing a lot of thinking about multiple timelines. As such, he believes in his gut that the war is continuing on other timelines.
In some post-"T2" stories, the next Terminator attack comes immediately after the movie (notably the Malibu Comics), but this is one where Sarah and John have a bit of breathing room. Sarah returning to her low-profile waitress job is somewhat similar to the Dark Horse "T1" timeline, where she is working as a maid in a small town in California. There, she changes her name; here, she just changes her location. In both cases, it doesn't do any good, as Terminators find her and John anyway, although they find them a bit faster here (in 1996) than in the Dark Horse continuity (in 1998). The Connors probably had the right idea in the Stirling trilogy, where they changed their names, moved to Paraguay and made detailed preparations for J-Day; indeed, Sarah survived all the way up to 2029 in that timeline. Tiedemann's "Hour of the Wolf" also saw the Connors changing their names; there, they lived and worked in Santa Fe, N.M., in the wake of "T2."
In "Revolution," though, we get a half-hearted version of "living off the grid." Although the Connors move to New Orleans and Sarah keeps a low profile, Sarah does allow John to attend school and go by his real name. This is in line with "The Sarah Connor Chronicles," where Sarah is worried about future Terminator attacks and the potential J-Day, but they aren't living off the grid to the degree of most post-"T2" stories.
John meets himself here – in 1996 New Orleans -- although only the older John is aware of it. The meeting of two Johns also happened in the Blackford trilogy; in that case, it was younger John traveling into the future (and to a different timeline) to meet his older self in the 2029 Future War.
TIMELINES AND TIME TRAVEL
The T-Infinity accidentally zaps itself and John from 2015 to 1996. This leads to a showdown in New Orleans where eight Infiltrators are trying to kill John and Sarah, older John is trying to protect younger John (who thinks older John is a Terminator), the eight Terminators are trying to stop the T-Infinity because it's an anomaly, and the Dire Wolf is also trying to stop the T-Infinity because its movements through time could potentially mess up the timestream.
The first time through this timeline, John had been attacked by just one T-850 in 1996 New Orleans, rather than eight (why the number changes this time around is unclear). But in both cases, he was protected by his older self (although Young John thinks Older John is a Terminator). The fact that the 1996 Terminator attack happened the first time through this timeline provides a definitive answer to the triggering mechanism that makes this a distinct timeline from other "T2" timelines. I had speculated in my "Infinity" post that this is the base "T2" timeline, but the information about the 1996 octet of Terminators reveals that to not be the case.
Kyle follows the Dire Wolf from 2015 to 1996, so Sarah has the brief, odd experience of seeing Kyle as a preteen. However, they don't interact much. On this timeline, when (and if) Kyle goes through the traditional 2029-to-1984 time travel, it will be old hat for him. But it might not come to that, as "Revolution" ends with Resistance victory over Skynet in 2015.
"Revolution's" time-travel loop gets closed when John reprograms the T-Infinity to take him and Kyle from 1996 back to 2015. It had already been established in "Infinity" that the T-Infinity can travel forward through time as well as backward. This has become an increasingly common phenomenon as "Terminator" lore expands; most famously, forward time travel was seen in "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" and "Genisys."
"Revolution" is shaky on the rule that time travelers must be naked for the time-displacement field to work. In the cases where people travel fully clothed via the T-Infinity or Dire Wolf, their clothes are not disintegrated nor are they harmed by the time-displacement field. However, for the final instance of time travel, John and Kyle are naked when they go from 1996 back to 2015.