652: More Accurate
Title text: We live in a world where there are actual fleets of robot assassins patrolling the skies. At some point there, we left the present and entered the future.
This comic spoofs the Terminator series, in which a super-intelligent machine from the future time travels back in time to kill Sarah Connor. As could be expected from a movie, the antagonistic robot is a human-like android.
However, we currently have military "robots" (actually vehicles controlled remotely by people) that are completely unlike anything in the movie. Originally, UAV were only used for surveillance and reconnaissance. But, now more than ever, they are used for attacks. And most importantly, they are not walking humanoids but flying machines. They are not restricted to carrying human-intended guns as in the movie but are armed with powerful explosives and long-range missiles. Thus the name of the comic: Randall points out being attacked by a flying plane-like drone -- such as the Predator drone shown in the last panel (heavily used for offensive operations by the USAF and the CIA in Afghanistan and Pakistan) -- is a much more accurate outcome should the robots rise up against humans.
It is important to note that, in the actual Terminator 1 movie, this substitution would not actually be so simple. The terminator sent back in time knows Sarah Connor's name and city of residence, but not her appearance or address; it locates her by looking her up in a phone book (and ends up killing a number of other women with the same name, as well as its intended target's roommate, before finding the correct Sarah Connor.) Additionally, the terminator regularly operates inside buildings and rearms itself by picking up human small-arms. A Predator-type drone, while a superior killing system, would be unable to do any of that. A drone which could interact with and operate in the human environment with the ease the terminator displays (let alone successfully disguise itself as a human) would be a major accomplishment which no real-world project has yet come close to.
One thing that keeps us short of a Terminator scenario is that most of the unmanned aerial vehicles are either pre-programmed or flown remotely by members of the military, and are not left to their own devices.
The title text emphasizes this by pointing out that we have entire fleets of these drones, and notes that at some point, we entered the future.
Similar buildup and Terminator reference are to be found in 1177: Time Robot.
10 years after this comic was published, almost to the day, a movie in the Terminator franchise called Terminator: Dark Fate came out which includes a scene very similar to this comic involving a Predator drone being used by the super-intelligent machine to take out its target. Also, shortly after that movie came out Randall published a comic about it with the same name.
- [Cueball with a shotgun approaches a woman carrying a tray with glasses.]
- Cueball: Sarah! Come with me if you want to live! A robot assassin has been sent here to kill you!
- [Sarah holds her hands over her mouth. She has presumably dropped the tray, as it lies on the floor.]
- Cueball: I'm here to save you. I may not be as strong or fast as a machine, but I'll fight to keep you-
- [There's a huge orange and yellow explosion. The two are disintegrated and Cueball's shotgun goes flying.]
- [A flying robot assassin is above the bomb site.]