Robotech II: The Sentinels Book Four #12

"Checkmate!"

Story & Art - John Waltrip & Jason Waltrip

Published by Academy Comics Ltd.

Release date - November 27, 1996
Cover date - November 1996

THE STORY

The Haydonite starship Ark Angel, flagship of the Sentinels, maintains its orbit around Spheris. While the Invid hive on the planet's surface has not taken notice of the ship, neither has there been any sign of the Grizlon, the Karbarran vessel that was supposed to pick up the Sentinels' mecha and forces left behind on the planet Garuda. When it is mentioned that it's kind of a moot point, given that their Protoculture-based weapons would destroy the planet's crystalline structure and the Spherisians along with it, Bela points out that while she certainly doesn't want Spheris to share the fate of her own world, if the new Invid mecha they encountered earlier catches up with them they won't be able to fight back without those mecha. Veidt says they probably won't be much help. He turns the crew's attention to the monitors, replaying the battle between the Karbarran E-Wings and the new Invid craft. "Those new Invid fighters were using weapons I've never seen before. Spine missiles, soliton waves, energy webs and something that looks like directed lighting." Rick Hunter remarks that they'll need to change their tactics to deal with them next time just to stay alive, and wonders if the Spherisians can help. However, attending to the matter at hand, Rick says that not only are they incapable of using their own weapons on Spheris, but they have to prevent the Invid from using theirs. Thanks to Tesla's evolved state, it is believed that the Invid garrison on Spheris will obey him. Lisa Hunter still doesn't trust Tesla's word, and Lron asks what will happen if Tesla turns the Invid garrison on the Sentinels. Rick reminds them all of the explosive collar around Tesla's neck -- one false move, and he loses his head. "Jack, Karen, Bela and Gnea, get Tesla and take him to the hangar bay," Rick orders. "Veidt, get a cone flyer ready to take them down." As he returns to his chair, Teal and Baldan II approach. As the boy has never seen his homeworld, Teal would like him to go down with them. Rick agrees to it. "After the garrison is secured," Rick says, "you two can be our liasons and make contact with your people below and tell them it's safe to return to the surface." Teal thanks him.

Elsewhere on the ship, Tesla is plotting to use the Invid garrison on Spheris to make his ascent to the Invid throne. Burak reminds Tesla of his promise to free his planet, Peryton, from its curse. "All in good time my old friend," Tesla says. "FIrst things first, the garrison. And to think, these humans are actually giving it to me, putting it right into my hands!" Burak points out the explosive collar, but Tesla assures him that he has something up his sleeve.

Shortly, the Haydonite cone flyer exits the Ark Angel's hangar. As Veidt takes the craft down to the planet's surface, Lisa tells Rick that she hopes they're doing the right thing. "We're doing the only thing we can do, Lisa," Rick says. "I just hope it works."

Somewhere in Tiresia, Rebecca Nicks still can't believe she's helping this mystery pilot, and tells him that she should turn him in for stealing and crashing the Delta Veritech prototype. As he opens a a grating leading into the catacombs, he assures her that rescuing Minmei from Edwards's complex is more important. "Tiresia is honeycombed with hundreds of underground passageways, some of which pass directly under Edwards's complex. They must intersect with or near a basement or shelter somewhere in the building." Nicks worries about how she could ever explain this to Dr. Lang if she's caught. The pilot tells her that Lang is keeping Edwards busy at the hearing, so they should be able to get in, get Minmei, and get out before anyone notices.

At the Tiresian Royal Hall, the trial of Jonathan Wolff, Vince Grant, and Breetai is reconvened. General Edwards believes the trial has gone on long enough, and it's time for the council to render its decision. The council asks for Edwards or Dr. Lang to submit any further evidence, and Lang produces a recording which he submits as evidence for dismissal of the hearing. "What is the nature of this recording, Dr. Lang?" chairman Justice Huxley asks him. "Call it ... a sworn deposition. If you'll just watch the viewscreen."


Edwards wonders what Lang is up to, but when the image comes up, he is shocked to see the words he said in Dr. Lang's lab being played back for the council: "Here's the oath I'll serve! I swear to exterminate Rick and Lisa Hunter, and Breetai, after I've made them suffer enough ..." When the recording is done, Edwards insists that it's some kind of forgery, but Lang assures the council that there has been no digital manipulation, that Edwards can have his own people go over it and they'll find it to be completely legit. Huxley thanks Lang for bringing this to the council's attention, and the council agrees to drop the charges against Wolff, Vince, and Breetai. "Also," Huxley says, "effective immediately, General Edwards is hereby relieved of duty and is to placed under arrest until an investi--"

General Edwards makes a run for it. Wolff chases after him, and Breetai rises to his feet but finds that he can't get to Edwards without potentially flattening half of the council. Scott Bernard grabs him, but Edwards bats the youth away. Wolff catches the boy and orders the security officers to cut him off, but Edwards tosses one man into another, then shoots a third. Wolff orders Vince to look after Scott as he continues his pursuit.

"All Ghost Riders," Edwards says into his comm link as he races through the hallways of the Tiresian Royal Hall, "this is Edwards. Code Red! Repeat, Code Red! Converge on my location for immediate evac! Stand by for additional orders!" Meanwhile, Lang alerts all personnel that Edwards is to apprehended immediately by order of the Plenipotentiary Council. "Arrest General Edwards at once. He is not to leave the area!" As the dueling orders go out, Ghost Squadron members attack Expeditionary Force loyalists. General Edwards ducks into his hover limo, and as Wolff closes in, Ghost Squadron members cover the General's escape with machine gun fire.

Inside the limo, a stammering Benson asks his commander what they can do, given that the entire city of Tiresia saw the broadcast. "Shut up Benson! I'm trying to think! They think they've got me, don't they?"

Colonel Wolff returns to the Royal Hall courtroom with news of Edwards's escape. Vince asks where he might go to. "He'll probably try to make it to the landing area, steal a shuttle." Lang tells them that the Veritech Spectre Squadron has been scrambled, that Edwards can't get far.

Back in the limo, Edwards assumes that the council expects him to make a run for the landing area and steal a shuttle, but he first has a call to make. He orders Benson to take him to one of the Royal Hall's side entrances. As the door closes behind them, Spectre One Five reports no sign of Edwards's motorcade.

Back at the courtroom, Wolff wonders where he could be. Vince tells Lang that they should round up Edwards's Ghost Squadron, since they may aid his escape or try to stage a coup. He also suggests that Lang and the council return to the SDF-3 until Edwards is captured. Lang believes he may be right.

Beneath the Royal Hall, Edwards's assembled Ghost Squadron salutes. Edwards tells his men that more help is on the way. "We're not finished yet," he assures them. He crosses the room to a monitor screen where a link has been established with the hive on Optera. On the screen is a hazy image of the Invid Regent. "Well, well. General ... Edwards, isn't it? Been quite a while since our last talk. To what do I owe the pleasure of this rare occasion?" the Regent asks.

"It seems you aren't the only one to have suffered a recent setback."

"Oh? Having difficulties, are we? How inconvenient."

"I think it best, strategically, if we unite our forces. I want you to send your army to get me and the people loyal to me."

"Why do you need my help? You have the Brain you captured from us when you took Tirol, if you didn't destroy the Inorganics that were left after the battle, you already have an army there."

Edwards looks over at the Brain, sitting nearby. "Of course! The Brain! I should've known all along!"

"Do stay in touch," the Regent says, signing off.

Benson asks Edwards what he's going to do. Edwards asks him where they put all the inert Inorganics. "They're piled up like cord wood all through these catacombs. Why?" Edwards activates the Brain, using the key combination that the late scientist Obsim showed him. The Brain begins to burble and bubble. Benson asks what he's doing.

"The perfect diversion," Edwards says, grinning. "Lang's going to be sorry he ever crossed me!" As the Brain continues to make bubbling noises, the Ghost Squadron hears cracking noises coming from the darkness. The Inorganics are rising to their feet.

Outside the pyramid, a search team is unlucky enough to find a side access door rising open. They stop their hovercycles and notice lights approaching. One of the men reports in that it might be the headlights of a limo, but unfortunately for them, it's the glowing sensor eyes of a horde of Invid Inorganics, firing wildly at anything that moves ...

NOTES

TIMELINE - Modified Jack McKinney novels timeline.

MAJOR CHARACTERSJanice and the Garudans Kami and Learna only appear in one panel, on the bridge of the Ark Angel; while the Garudans are kind of obvious, only the most keen-eyed regular reader of the title would notice Janice. They've been reduced to bridge props. Honestly, I think this is a product of Sentinels having too many extraneous characters and not enough for them all to do, especially after their big moments are over (the liberation of Garuda for Kami & Learna, and the big "reveal" for Janice on Haydon IV).

Kami's appearance here has been flagged as his "final named appearance" because it's possible, even likely, that the Garudan seen among the Sentinels in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #1 is intended to be Kami, but short of Lron and Veidt none of them are named.

The activation of the Invid Brain here overlaps a similar scene in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #1, though in the later work Edwards appears a lot less cartoonishly, evilly wild-eyed and psychotic. That only makes sense, as Prelude Edwards is a lot less cartoonishly evil and psychotic, and has a completely different set of goals, which do not include conquering the Earth and making it his own.


While the ROBOTECH TV series shows Scott Bernard watching propaganda footage of Jonathan Wolff when he thinks back on what a hero Wolff was, in the McKinney novels this is the incident that Scott fixates on in his hero worship of the man -- when Wolff leapt to his rescue during T.R. Edwards's escape. Of course, again, in the modern canon young Scott Bernard probably doesn't have the familial connection to Dr. Lang that leads to him serving in this position.

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Robotech II: The Sentinels Book Four #11

"Summit"

Story & Art - John Waltrip & Jason Waltrip

Published by Academy Comics Ltd.

Release date - October 16, 1996
Cover date - October 1996

THE STORY

In a makeshift courtroom within the Tiresian Royal Hall on Tirol, Jonathan Wolff, Vince Grant, and Breetai stand accused of high treason against the REF, conspiracy, theft of the SDF-7 and the monopole ore, sabotage of the peace talks between the REF and the Invid, and the murder of the Invid Regent. Chairman Justine Huxley of the REF council asks the accused how they plead. Wolff, speaking for the three, admits to the theft of the SDF-7, but pleads not guilty to the rest of the counts. "The charges of treason and conspiracy are completely groundless and the charge of murder is totally non sequitur and unapplicable," Wolff tells the council. When asked why this is, Wolff tells the council that the Invid Regent isn't dead. Huxley asks him to explain, and he hands an aide a data card filled with images provided by the Haydonites' surveillance systems -- images of the Regent's fleet in orbit around the planet and of the Regent himself on the planet's surface. Dr. Lang suggests to the council that the being that was aboard the SDF-3 during the peace talks was not, in fact, the real Regent. Exedore reminds them that his people, the Zentraedi, are clones. "It is possible that the Invid developed a cloning technology of their own," he says, "or stole it from the Robotech Masters when they conquered Tirol. In any case, it appears the Regent constructed a clone of himself and sent 'it' in his place to the peace talks." General Edwards leaps to his feet and says this is beside the point, that it Wolff still thought it was the genuine Regent and killed it. "Impossible, General," Lang says as he enters his own data card into evidence containing records that reveal that Wolff was in his office from 21:45 to 22:10, within the time of death given by the medical examiner. "Furthermore," Lang says, "the Regent is twenty-five feet tall and weighs over five tons, there are no invasive wounds on the body. Death was caused by asphyxiation from a crushed windpipe. Are we to believe Colonel Wolff strangled a being four times his own height with his bare hands?" With these points taken, Huxley orders the charge dropped. Edwards curses.

The next charge is the theft of the monopole ore. Huxley asks Breetai if he maintains his innocence of the charge. "I do." One of the senators tells him that the trajectory records and cargo scans state otherwise, but Breetai argues that in order for him to steal the ore, the REF would have had to have had possession of it. "No such condition exisited. I did not 'steal' the ore. I simply did not give it to you. But I am willing ..." Edwards leaps to his feet and says that's a mere technicality. "That ore was mine!" he shouts. "Uh, I mean ... ours ... Ours! By a previously arranged agreement! You promised the ore and then you took it!" Breetai plays dumb, suggesting that he may have misunderstood. Dr. Lang suggests that they could make a new agreement with Breetai. "If Breetai is willing to hand over the ore at this time, I think we could see our way to reducing the charge to midirection of REF property and mark the whole affair down as a miscommunication between species. My lab is standing by to receive the monopole and we can get on with the repairs." Breetai agrees, and Huxley rules it so.

Shortly, Huxley reminds Wolff that the charge he admits to, theft of an REF vessel, is a serious act. "I realize that, your honor, and although I take full responsibility for it, I do not regret taking such action, for this council gave me no choice," Wolff explains. "It was absolutely necessary in order to save the lives of Admiral Hunter and the Sentinels at Praxis. They were stranded there after a surprise Invid attack destroyed the Farrago. Praxis was destroying itself because of an unfathomable experiment conducted by the Invid, you refused to send help for fear of antagonizing the Regent at the peace talks. If I had not taken the SDF-7 to rescue them, they all would have died. Since then we have continued our campaign to liberate the planets of the Local Group from the Invid. We've freed Karbarra, Garuda, and most recently Haydon IV, but the fight is far from over. The Invid still ..." Edwards interrupts, reminding him that the Invid are not on trial here. Wolff continues, "... still hold the Local Group in a grip [of] tyranny! Tyranny that will reach Earth if we don't stop them here! You may not be at war with them, but they are at war with us ... with all races!"

"Impudence!" Edwards shouts.

"... but this war is winnable for those with the courage to fight it!" Wolff says.

"Insubordinate!" Edwards shouts.

"Coward!" Wolff shouts back. Edwards begins to approach Wolff, but Huxley slams down her gavel and demands order. She suggests a short recess, adjourning the hearing until 19:00 hours. As the council members disperse, Lang approaches Edwards.

"General Edwards. We need to talk."

In a dark Tiresian alleyway, Rebecca Nicks recognizes the soldier before her as the man who stole Lang's Delta Fighter prototype and tried to help Minmei escape the planet. He admits this, and tells Nicks that Edwards got Minmei back and is holding her somewhere in his office complex. "I can't get in there alone. I need your help, Nicks." Nicks says she should turn him in, but he tells her that with Edwards at the hearing, most of his security men will be with him, meaning the complex will be lightly guarded. "When Minmei's safe, I promise I'll turn myself in. Whataya say, Lieutenant?"

At Dr. Lang's research center, Edwards asks him what's on his mind. "The question is, General, what's on yours?" Edwards assures Lang that he's only interested in dispensing justice to those who have jeopardized the mission. "I only want what's best for the REF, for Earth, and the human race." Lang assures Edwards that his trumped-up charges against Wolff and the Sentinels won't stick and asks that Edwards put an end to the hearing. "Never! They defied the council and they're going to pay!" Lang asks him, then, to remain neutral for the rest of the proceedings, since he has no evidence, to put his men under command of the council, and to allow his team to examine the Invid Brain that was captured when the REF liberated Tirol. Edwards refuses, insisting that his men are still disarming it. Lang says it doesn't matter, that when the United Earth Government finds out what Edwards has been up to his career will be over. "What do you mean?!" Edwards demands. Lang explains that Major Carpenter's ship has folded for Earth, that they already had enough ore to either repair the SDF-3's fold drives or build a smaller drive for Carpenter's ship. "I managed to persuade the council to accept the latter," Lang says. "It was necessary to keep you here at Tirol. I know what you're planning, Edwards, and I can't allow it, but I can't prove it, yet. You intended to construct a fleet to conquer Earth. Breetai took the ore to delay you until Carpenter's ship was ready. It might take Carpenter a little longer to get to Earth ... but he'll get there ... before you. He's taking a full report from me on your activities to the Robotech Defense Command. When we do get back to Earth, you're going to have a lot of questions to answer. You're finished, General." Edwards lunges at Lang, but Lang grabs his wrists, stopping him. As Lang's eyes turn liquid black, Edwards is brought to his knees. His wrists crack under Lang's inhuman strength, and Edwards tells Lang to go ahead and kill him. Lang lets go, and while Edwards laughs, telling him he hasn't the guts, Lang assures him that he will never turn him into a murderer. "You will be punished in time. The Shapings will see to that." Edwards tells Lang that he's mad. "Not as mad as you. Stop your subversion now, General, before there is any more bloodshed. Adhere to your oath, and abandon these megalomaniacal dreams."

"Here's the oath I'll serve," Edwards tells Lang. "I swear to kill Wolff. I swear to exterminate Rick and Lisa Hunter, and Breetai, after I've made them suffer enough! The rest will either bow at my feet or die! I swear to have Huxley and Obstat and the entire council as my personal slaves! I swear the Earth ... and the galaxy will be mine! I swear revenge!"

"Then there is nothing further for us to discuss ... except for one last question, if you will." Edwards asks what it is. "I understand why you despise Rick Hunter; his friendship with your old nemesis, Roy Fokker, makes that obvious, but whence comes this loathing of Lisa Hayes-Hunter? What has she ever done to you?"

"You'll find out when the oh-so-saintly Hunters do: when it's too late." At that, Edwards exits. When the door is closed, Lang tells Scott Bernard he can come out and asks if he got all of it. Scott isn't sure; Edwards's surveillance scramblers were set to the max, and he had a tough time cutting through. As Edwards leaves the compound, he is sure that all Lang has is so much blank tape. "Nothing I say can be held against me. I'm not finished yet."

Meanwhile, the battered Ark Angel soars through foldspace towards Spheris. Rick asks Veidt for a damage report. "Shields down twenty-five percent, Admiral. Lateral weapons array disabled. Hull breach on decks nine and ten, and auxiliary power systems are off line. Main power is good, but with the current energy use by the drive system it will take a while for the ship to repair itself." For all their sakes, Rick hopes it's soon, since those new Invid craft will certainly come after them again, and he wants to be ready for them. He asks Jack Baker when they'll be at Spheris. Jack says they'll be there in an hour and forty-five minutes. Rick orders everyone to the situation room.

The plan is this: when they arrive in Spheris orbit, they'll quickly survey the strike zone, determining the size and strength of the enemy garrison. Veidt notes that a passive scan won't reveal their presence to the Invid and the shields will keep them from appearing on their sensors. They'll then pull back to a high orbit and rendezvous with the Karbarran ship Grizlon, which will be carrying the remainder of their forces from Garuda. When the Grizlon has transferred all the mecha to the SDF-7, that ship will proceed to the target area, while the Ark Angel and Grizlon remain in high orbit to provide cover. "If those new Invid fighters do arrive," Rick says, "presenting them with multiple targets might confuse them. They caught us off guard before, but with the Grizlon, Ark Angel, and the SDF-7, we should have enough firepower to handle them." Teal asks if they're planning on destroying the Invid hive outright, even with the possibility of Spherisians in there. Rick assures her that the spectrum scan should reveal if there are any Spherisian prisoners inside, and that will help them determine their specific plan of attack. Teal thanks Rick for taking that into consideration, but points out one thing he didn't consider -- that they cannot take any Protoculture-based weaponry down. While Jack and Karen complain, Lisa asks Teal to explain why. "Spheris is a planet of crystal structure. Protoculture weapon emissions invoke catastrophic harmonic and quantum resonances from the very fabric of my homeworld. A beam striking a crystal will be reflected in almost any direction before shattering the crystal like glass. Heavier weapons fire could sunder the delicate lattice work that makes up the planet, causing great death and destruction among my people." Lron asks about the Invid, but Teal points out that they don't care what effect their weapons have. Bela reminds everyone that her people can attest to that. Lisa asks Rick how they can fight if the Invid can fire and the Sentinels cannot. Rick orders Tesla to be brought in.

Rick asks Tesla if he can order the garrison to surrender. "Of course I can. It would be a simple matter, Admiral. In my evolved state, the garrison will obey me without question." Lron asks what will prevent Tesla from turning the garrison on the Sentinels. Rick draws his handgun and produces Tesla's explosive collar. Tesla isn't very happy to see it. "Any tricks, Tesla, any at all, and you won't be around to regret it." A report comes in from the bridge telling Rick and the others that they are approaching Spheris. Rick orders everyone to their stations ...

NOTES

TIMELINE - Modified Jack McKinney novels timeline.

MAJOR CHARACTERS
  • Rick Hunter (next in Robotech II: The Sentinels Halloween Special #1)
  • Lisa Hunter (next in Robotech II: The Sentinels Halloween Special #1)
  • Dr. Emil Lang
  • Janice Em (next in Robotech II: The Sentinels Halloween Special #1)
  • Jonathan Wolff
  • Vince Grant
  • Jack Baker (next in Robotech II: The Sentinels Halloween Special #1)
  • Karen Penn (next in Robotech II: The Sentinels Halloween Special #1)
  • Breetai Tul
  • Exedore Formo
  • Rem (next in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #5)
  • T.R. Edwards
  • Lynn Kyle
  • Rebecca Nicks
  • Justine Huxley
  • Scott Bernard (last in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book Three #6)
  • Lron (next in Robotech II: The Sentinels Halloween Special #1)
  • Crysta (next in Robotech II: The Sentinels Halloween Special #1)
  • Bela (next in Robotech II: The Sentinels Halloween Special #1)
  • Gnea (next in Robotech II: The Sentinels Halloween Special #1)
  • Kami (next in Robotech II: The Sentinels Halloween Special #1)
  • Learna (next in Robotech II: The Sentinels Halloween Special #1)
  • Veidt (next in Robotech II: The Sentinels Halloween Special #1)
  • Teal (next in Robotech II: The Sentinels Halloween Special #1)
  • Baldan II (next in Robotech II: The Sentinels Halloween Special #1)
  • Tesla (last seen in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book Four #8)
This issue is seriously all talking heads, all the time. Since there is an advertisement for the Waltrips' Noble A.R.M.O.U.R. Halberder (still known as Cyberknights at this point), the Waltrips obviously knew that the jig was up, and I suspect that they were trying to get through the story with Edwards to end on the note they did in Sentinels Book Four #13.

When Lang holds the threat of Carpenter ratting Edwards out over the General's head, I have to wonder if the idea is that Carpenter is supposed to be providing Lang's allegations to the United Earth Government during an off-camera moment in the TV episode "Outsiders," or if Lang is bluffing. Honestly, Lang doesn't strike me as the bluffing type, but at the same time this is quite the continuity implant.

I believe this is the first and only time the Waltrips drew Lang with the all-black eyes during the course of the Sentinels comic series, and the first time that Lang has mentioned the Shapings -- the metaphysical will of the Protoculture that is key to the McKinney novels -- in the Sentinels comics since we got a glimpse of Lang's personal journal in the first issue of Book Two. Of course, the original Dr. Lang character design in the Sentinels animation didn't have the all-black eyes; McKinney was the first to make a big deal about that aspect of the original Macross character design, and consequently his description in the novels always referred to them. (The only other time his eyes even appeared strange in the Sentinels comics was during a flashback to him touching the console aboard the SDF-1 that gave him the Protoculture-induced mindboost, back in Sentinels Book One #13, and there his eyes appeared all white.)

While Edwards mentions Niles Obstat (a member of the REF council mentioned with some regularity in the novels) during the swearing of his "oath" (nearly verbatim from the novels), the only McKinney-only member of the council identified by name during this issue of The Sentinels is Justine Huxley, who presides over the trial during this and the next issue. (Senator Longchamps is named in Book Four #8.)

As this is Scott Bernard's first appearance in Book Four (he appeared as a member of Lang's staff alongside Carpenter when Lang left for the monopole mining satellite in Book Three #6), it's worth noting that the character design for young Bernard seen here was originally done for the Sentinels animation, and his use as Dr. Lang's young assistant was explained in the novels by stating that he was Lang's nephew; Return to Macross clarifies the relation further by introducing Lang's sister Nina (issue #21) and a colleague named Dr. Brian Bernard (issue #25). While the modern canon retains the notion that Lang has a sister, given her new function in the storyline she cannot be Bernard's mother, and this oh-so-insular relation has been severed.

When Rick presides over the strategy meeting, the first thing he says as the scene opens is that they're going over it again. If this is the second time, why is it that Teal only brings up her concerns -- the potential presence of Spherisians in the hive and the fact that the Sentinels cannot use the weapons they intended -- now?

The Sentinels Halloween Special was released the same day; while it's the next Sentinels tale in the comics' chronology, it's merely a side-story that doesn't drive forward any of the ongoing storylines.

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Robotech: Vermilion #1 (of 4)


"Vermilion"

Story & Art - Duc Tran
Cover Colors - ARNie
3-D Renderings - Tipatat Chennavasin

Published by Antarctic Press.

Release date - August 6, 1997
Cover date - August 1997

Estimated sales - 8,300 copies

THE STORY

The SDF-1 has finally returned to Earth following its lengthy exodus and constant battle with the Zentraedi fleet. It's been over a week since anyone aboard the space battle fortress has seen combat.

Lt. Rick Hunter and pilot trainee Hiro Amano are flying their Veritechs over the Pacific on a training run. When Rick finds that he's running low on fuel, he decides to return to the SDF-1, and leaves Hiro practicing a rolling mechamorphosis maneuver. As Hiro practices, a Zentraedi battlecruiser appears out of nowhere, but does not appear on Hiro's radar. A squadron of Veritechs streaks past, and while Hiro thinks they're here to back him up, he spots them going to Guardian mode and entering the enemy ship! Squadron leader Raven notices Hiro's lone Veritech and decides to take care of him. With his radio jammed, Hiro tries to flee to inform the SDF-1 that there are traitors in their ranks. However, Raven's Battloid stops him single-handedly. His craft is equipped with an Electro Magnetic Frequency bomb, which paralyses anything electronic that touches its armor. With his engines out, Hiro is helpless as Raven drops the fighter and blows the young trainee away with his gun pod.

Back on the SDF-1, Rick and Roy are at the shooting range remarking on how quiet things have been lately, when Lisa informs Rick that the SDF-1 has lost contact with Hiro's Veritech. A recon chopper is sent out to investigate his disappearance, with Rick on-board, but they find no sign of the young pilot.

Veritech Crimson Squadron returns to the SDF-1 from the Zentraedi ship, and Raven meets with General Golic, who asks if he "made the delivery." He then remarks how lucky Raven was that the lost Veritech's wingman left early and begins to threaten the sinister squadron leader, but Raven reminds Golic that he's in this up to his neck. The recon helicopter returns shortly thereafter, and Rick asks Raven if he or any of his squadron saw anything. Raven shoves Rick aside and walks away.

NOTES

TIMELINE - Since this story is set during The Macross Saga with no overt references to any dates or concepts native to the McKinney novels (i.e. Thinking Caps), it is compatible with any ROBOTECH timeline.

MAJOR CHARACTERS
  • Rick Hunter (last seen in The Macross Saga #13)
  • Roy Fokker (last seen in The Macross Saga #13
  • Lisa Hayes (last seen in The Macross Saga #14)
  • Hiro Amano (first and final appearance)
  • Raven (first published & chronological appearance)
  • Thomas Golic (first published appearance, last in flashback in Vermilion #2)
This takes place after episode #14, the recap episode "Gloval's Report," which was said to occur "amidst the jubilant celebration" of the SDF-1's return home. Seeing how it's been a week and change and nobody's celebrating, it's clearly after that episode. At the same time, the trigger for the snowballing events that follow (the journey to Alaska Base and the arrival of Lynn Kyle) isn't reflected, so it has to be before episode #15, "Homecoming."

The art style, gray tone work, and word balloons really put me in the mind of a Japanese manga serial, and a lot of the fiddly bits of mechanical detail and costume design is reminiscent of late 1980's sci-fi/mecha anime. However, the first shot of a Battloid is missing some important details, and the Veritech flight suits are slightly off -- probably just a case of not quite enough source material, or perhaps just not paying enough attention to detail.

The notion of traitors within the RDF joining up with the Zentraedi is still a neat idea (hey, if some of the Zentraedi turned traitor, why can't some of the humans?) and while Raven is given an obvious "bad guy" design, he's at least cool looking, if kind of a shallow villain in the classic T.R. Edwards mold. At least co-conspirator Golic is later given some kind of depth.

My only problem with the story is the stealth technology angle, and that's probably got something to do with the fact that the Shadow Technology in the third generation is supposed to be so very new and cool. However, that's more of a "big picture" problem; within the context of a quick little Macross Saga action romp that's trying to do something new without resorting to the "kewl new mecha" angle, it works.

Big problem: it's only thirteen pages! The rest of the book is filled up with a lame "crying soldier" recap of the first eight or so episodes of The New Generation with decent enough artwork drawn from animation stills. Blech.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

  • Mospeada Diary

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Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #1 (of 5)

"Part One: The Enemy Within"

Story - Tommy Yune
Script - Jason & John Waltrip
Art - Omar Dogan @ Udon Studios
Letters - Travis Lanham
Asst. Editor - Kristy Quinn
Editor - Ben Abernathy

Published by WildStorm Productions, an imprint of DC Comics.

Release date - October 5, 2005
Cover date - December 2005

Diamond order number - AUG05 0265
Estimated sales - 11,735 copies

THE STORY

The SDF-3 Pioneer orbits the occupied moon of Tirol, the former homeworld of the Robotech Masters. On the surface, Robotech Expeditionary Force Garfish-class cruisers patrol the skies and infantry on foot and mounted on Cyclones sweep the streets of Tiresia, the former capital of the Masters' empire, searching for a traitor.

The door to the Expeditionary Force council chamber is kicked open by a military police officer. "Find and detain General Edwards!" Vice Admiral Rick Hunter shouts from the back as the police sweep the room. Dr. Jean Grant directs Rick's attention to a dead body in the middle of the room. When they take a closer look, Rick notices the uniform coloration matches Edwards's own Ghost Squadron. "Why would Edwards kill one of his own men?" Rick wonders aloud.

An alert on all military channels goes out ordering the arrest of General Edwards. In the catacombs beneath the city, Edwards listens with some interest. "Unit 5 proceeding to Edwards's compound. Units 3 and 9, secure the landing field. He may be trying to make a run for it!" However, Edwards isn't ready to run yet; he taps a button on a nearby console, activating the Invid Brain seized during the Expeditionary Force's counter-invasion of Tirol.

Back in the council chamber, Rick turns the dead Ghost Squadron pilot over and is shocked to see that it's Lynn Kyle, Minmei's cousin. Jean asks what he's doing on Tirol, but Rick worries that if Kyle was here, Minmei probably was as well.

A team of REF soldiers arrives at Edwards's compound and begins to report no sign of the General, when the ground begins to rumble. Before they know it, Invid Inorganics are tearing through the streets; it's an ambush!

The military police report to Rick that there's no sign of anyone here. "You can add murder and kidnapping to the charges against Edwards," Rick says. Jean is surprised that Edwards would resort to something like this. "After being left in charge of captured alien technology for years, I don't think he welcomed the decision to hand authority back over to Dr. Lang. I suspect he was concerned that we would discover--" Rick is cut off by reports of battle with Inorganics at Edwards's compound.

"That should keep them busy for a while," Edwards tells one of his subordinates. "That's our signal to go."

Rick, Jean, and the military police run outside just in time to see an experimental REF battlecruiser tear forth from Edwards's compound. Rick orders someone to get him Commander Vince Grant on the comm, to have him meet them at the landing field. "And notify the SDF-3 in orbit. Tell them to scramble their Veritechs to intercept!"

Aboard Edwards's Icarus, Minmei assures Edwards that Rick will have him shot out of the sky. "With you on board? You two must have had quite a falling out." Edwards tells her to sit tight, and that Hunter certainly can't shoot what he can't see.

Rick, Vince, and Jean pursue Edwards with the Tokugawa. Vince tells Rick that the ground forces have contained the Inorganics, but they can't get a lock on Edwards's ship, as it doesn't appear on their scanners. Rick sees that it's headed straight for the SDF-3. "We have to warn Lisa!"

Aboard the SDF-3, Admiral Lisa Hayes-Hunter assures her worried husband that Wolf Squadron is heading to intercept the Icarus. Wolf Leader Jack Baker radios the Admiral with confirmation of visual contact. "Try to force them down, Baker! Disable the vessel if you can, but do not destroy it! He may have a hostage aboard."

As the Icarus escapes the atmosphere, Edwards is given news that Alpha Fighers are closing to intercept. Edwards orders the launch of the Shadow Fighters. The Alphas close in. Jack orders his men to target the Icarus's engines and use guns only. "We want to bring them down in one piece, not pieces!" Wolf Two, Lt. Daryl Taylor, notes that he can't target the engines with his scanners. "You can see 'em, can't you? Just follow my lead!" As Jack prepares to fire a warning shot across the bridge, the Alpha to his immediate right explodes. Taylor tells Jack that he's got incoming missiles, but Jack can't see them on his scope. As one whizzes past, he radios the squadron to tell them to switch to visual, that their scanners are useless against Edwards's new fighters. "Break formation! Take evasive maneuvers now!" The Shadow Fighters rip the Wolf Squadron to shreds. Taylor's canopy shatters and he's forced to eject. As his Alpha explodes, Jack swings around and switches to Guardian to rescue him. "Wolf Leader to SDF-3, we are unable to intercept the bogeys! Do you copy? They're using some kind of cloaking device, so we can't get a weapons lock! I've lost eight ... nine fighters! We're getting wiped out here!"

Back on the SDF-3, Lisa orders Wolf Squadron to break off their attack and return to base. Asking Rick to forgive her, Lisa orders the firing of the main gun. All of a sudden, a Shadow Fighter appears before the bridge. Lisa quickly orders shields up, but the barrage knocks her off her feet. A bridge tech tells her the reflex cannon will be charged in fifteen seconds, but there's a fold disturbance in sector three. "Invid carrier defolding!" Lisa recognizes the ship -- it's the Invid Regent's flagship! "They're targeting the reflex cannon!" Before Lisa can get an order out, the Invid carrier's claw-hands open up and annihilate the SDF-3's main gun.

Aboard the Tokugawa, Rick Hunter screams in horror. As the Icarus and the Invid Regent's ship fold away, Rick orders Vince to get him to the SDF-3 immediately with a rescue team to check for survivors.

Shortly, Rick sits beside Lisa's bed in the SDF-3's sick bay. Vince reports that the SDF-3 is in bad shape. "There's extensive structural damage and the feedback from the reflex cannon overloaded nearly every relay on the ship and wiped out the fold drives, too. She's not going anywhere for a while, against Edwards, the Regent, or even back to Earth. We're stuck here." Vince notices that Rick doesn't seem to be paying attention, but he is. He's just ... tired.

Back on Tiresia, in the burned-out compound of T.R. Edwards, Dr. Emil Lang, the android Janice, and former Zentraedi Domillan Exedore are investigating the General's computer records. Janice tells the two that Edwards wasn't very thorough in deleting his backups. "According to this, Edwards has developed a form of stealth technology that masks the energy signature of a vessel from detection with some kind of transdimensional shift." Lang is surprised to hear this, as his former colleague Dr. Lazlo Zand assured him that fourth-dimensional reconfiguration was impossible. "But he didn't accomplish this alone," Janice remarks. "He was assisted by some technology he acquired from the Invid." Exedore is appalled. Lang asks Janice if she can make anything else out, but the rest of the data is incomplete, making it impossible for them to reproduce the technology.

At the Expeditionary Force Council chambers, Lang tells the council how Edwards seized the Invid Brain during the Expeditionary Force's initial battle against the Invid on Tirol. Rick is flabbergasted by the fact that as Edwards shouted down the council for its involvement with alien races he was conspiring with the Regent. "Apparently those anomalous signals we've been picking up over the last few months were from Edwards communicating with the Regent," Vince adds. General Gunther Reinhardt is astounded. "Edwards has always been a xenophobe!" he remarks. "Why would he then collude with the very enemy he fought against?" Rick says it's because Edwards has no faith in the council, and believes he's the only one who can protect the Earth, and the only way to do that is by destroying all potential enemies. Reinhardt asks how Edwards got the Shadow Technology. "We don't know," Rick says. "Dr. Lang's team is working on it now." Reinhardt turns to an assembled group of figures at the end of the council table, the Sentinels. "This betrayal is not and should not be representative of our race as a whole. We came to this region of space to make peace with the Robotech Masters. To help them--and you--in the struggle against the Invid, who threaten us all. Now we need your help." The Haydonite Veidt, hovering at the fore, tells Reinhardt that the Sentinels are prepared to help the REF in whatever fashion is necessary. He offers the Haydonites' assistance to Dr. Lang's team researching General Edwards's Shadow Technology, while the Karbarran L'Ron offers the shipbuilding might of his people in reconstructing the SDF-3 and building any additional ships necessary. Reinhardt accepts their aid on behalf of the REF. Watching from the sidelines, Lt. Taylor asks Jack Baker if they can trust these new aliens. "They've been fighting the Invid longer than we have," Jack tells him. "Their homeworlds have just recently been liberated. Their experience and knowledge can come in pretty handy when we take on the Regent again."

With the meeting over, Rick finds Jean and asks her how Lisa is. Jean says that she's been moved to the base infirmary due to all the power fluctuations aboard the SDF-3, but he shouldn't worry. "She's going to recover," Jean assures him. "Thank God for that," Rick says. "You know, I was looking forward to Lisa finally resigning her commission after she found out that she was pregnant, and none too soon it seems. You really can't be an Admiral and a ... mother ..." Rick notices the look on Jean's face. Jean tells him that Lisa lost the baby. As the words reach his ears, Rick's legs start to give way ...

One year passes. A bottle of champagne shatters against the hull of the retrofitted Tokugawa. At a docking facility in Tirolian orbit, Rick shakes Vince's hand and grants him command of the ship. He turns to the assembled crewmen and thanks the Karbarrans for their support. Turning back to Vince, Rick tells him to be careful. "There's no telling what Edwards and the Regent have been doing all this time, but we've got to find out and stop them as soon as possible. I would prefer to send you on this mission with more than this ship, but as soon as the SDF-3 is finished ..." Vince tells Rick not to worry, that with Breetai's Zentraedi forces at his side that shouldn't be a problem. "We're going to get him, Rick. I promise."

NOTES

TIMELINE - Modern Robotech.com timeline.

MAJOR CHARACTERSMany of the following notes are based on my earlier, more visually detailed observations made in October of 2005 when Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #1 was originally released. You can read those notes here.

Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles opens with a giant tease for fans of Jason & John Waltrip's Robotech II: The Sentinels. While it is soon revealed that most of the players have been shuffled about, not to mention the order of events, T.R. Edwards is right where readers of the canceled Academy Comics series last saw him in December 1996, making his escape from Tirol in the wake of, I suppose, Dr. Emil Lang revealing to the Expeditionary Force that he's a traitor. Then again, it is never explicitly mentioned how Edwards was revealed as a traitor; the brief flashback is very vague, only showing a slamming gavel, a blast from a Mars Gallant H-90, a shrieking Minmei, and a falling Lynn Kyle. For all we know, it could have been Edwards's own trial, and not, as depicted in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #11-12, the trial of other, loyal REF personnel engineered by a scheming T.R. Edwards. Also, bear in mind that while the events alluded to in these panels happened in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #12-13, as #13 opened Edwards had already unleashed the Invid Inorganics on Tiresia at the suggestion of the Invid Regent, to much greater effect.

When Rick Hunter was last seen in The Sentinels, he was captaining the Haydonite flagship Ark Angel. His wife Lisa was at his side, and Janice Em was on the bridge. L'Ron was also aboard. Jack Baker was last seen aboard a Haydonite shuttle craft controlled by Veidt over the planet Spheris. Jean Grant was left behind on Haydon IV with the Sterlings to tend to a pregnant Miriya. Dr. Lang, Exedore, and Vince were all on Tirol, at the trial where Edwards was revealed as a turncoat.

Visual nods to the original Sentinels include the appearance of Rick and Jean in the Haydonite armored uniforms given to the Sentinels in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #9 (incorrectly drawn in the early pages, but fixed by their final appearance on page 16), the use of the original psuedo-Zentraedi SDF-3 design until its destruction (colored, for once, to match the original Sentinels animation), and the appearance of Lynn Kyle in a gray Sentinels-era REF uniform. However:

A) While Rick was last seen wearing the Haydonite armored uniform, Jean was never seen wearing one, though she was probably given one (Max and Miriya are last seen wearing the discs that activate the armored uniforms, but never activate them since they decide not to rejoin the Sentinels).

B) The SDF-3, despite looking like the old ship on the outside, now has a spacious bridge identical to General Reinhardt's SDF-4 as opposed to the familiar confined SDF-1-style bridge described in the McKinney novels and drawn by the Waltrips throughout Robotech II: The Sentinels. Also, McKinney had Lisa's bridge crew entirely male in an inverse of Gloval's crew, which was reflected in the Sentinels comics.

C) Lynn Kyle was wearing an REF flightsuit when he was killed in The Sentinels. Also, that's an awfully drab gray uniform, although I suspect the coloration (or lack thereof) be a nod to the black & white Sentinels comics.

The year this takes place in was left intentionally vague. However, we can definitely ballpark it. Following the SDF-3's departure for Tirol in 2022, the opening captions refer to "decades of struggle" leading up to the REF's more-or-less peaceful occupation of Tirol. At most it could be two decades later -- that would result in the story opening in 2042 and Vince's pursuit of Edwards taking place in 2043, leaving the rest of the series to take us to 2044, the end of the Third Robotech War and the opening of the Shadow Chronicles animation. It would also explain Jack Baker's command of his own squadron and his scruffy beard, as well as the more Shadow Chronicles-style look of the pilots' CVR-3 battle armor as compared to the equipment used by the Mars Division in New Generation.

Funny how between publishers this story has apparently leapt from pre-Mars Division (Robotech Masters-era Hovercycles in lieu of Cyclones and flare-shouldered uniforms) to post-Mars Division (fancy neon-trimmed uniforms & Shadow Devices). I love ROBOTECH.

When Rick mentions Edwards's reluctance to turn the captured alien technology he had over to Dr. Lang's teams, that seems to be a direct reference to Lang's request in Sentinels Book Four #11, that Edwards turn the Invid Brain over to Lang's personnel. That's an interesting bit of consistency.

Lynn Minmei's non-appearance here (seen from the back, cropped out of shots) was due to Harmony Gold being unable to settle on a new character design for the forty-something former pop star. In fact, on page 9 a panel was enlarged to crop out her vaguely-drawn face. Since it was decided that we'd likely never see her again in future ROBOTECH animation or comics, however, she is seen in a little more detail in issue #4 ... sort of.

The near-destruction of the SDF-3 has some very definite parallels with the way the Invid crippled the SDF-3, knocking out its reflex furnace and crippling its fold drive, waaaaaaay back in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book I #9, during the initial action against the Invid garrison on Tirol.

The Invid Regent's flagship that cripples the SDF-3 was actually destroyed by a giant apparition of the Robotech Master Zor on Haydon IV, birthed from the rage of Prince Administrator Vowad at the death of his daughter Sarna, in Sentinels Book IV #8. Except, of course, those events aren't canon in this version of continuity ...

Doctor Lazlo Zand is mentioned by Lang. Despite the fact that he was transformed into a giant Flower of Life at the end of the Second Robotech War (see McKinney's novel The Final Nightmare), he pops up next issue. Clearly the reason he wanted Lang to look the other direction when it came to fourth-dimensional reconfiguration is because it totally works and he wanted to have one up on, as he kept ranting about in The Zentraedi Rebellion, "the great Dr. Emil Lang."

General Reinhardt, a big wheel in the final two episodes of ROBOTECH, did not appear in any of the Sentinels comics prior to Prelude. The McKinney novels gave us a character named Gunther Reinhardt, but he was based on a bald and bearded character from the Sentinels animation who was originally going to be named Colonel Adams. However, Macek & Co. renamed the fellow Colonel Reinhardt when the Sentinels video was edited together and rewritten, presumably to tie together the references to a commander named Reinhardt mentioned by Major Carpenter in the Robotech Masters episode "Outsiders." The bald, bearded fellow is seen a few times in the later Sentinels comics during staff meetings and the like, but is never referred to by name, unlike the novels, where we eventually find a General Reinhardt in command of the flagship of the Earth reclamation fleet. While the final novel of the TV adaptations, Symphony of Light, was written with the intention of Reinhardt being the character seen here, if you read the McKinney novels in sequence the implication is that these are both supposed to be the same character. Consider that General Reinhardt in Symphony of Light is never described. (McKinney promotes the Sentinels animation's Reinhardt to Brigadier General in his first appearance, much in the same way "Major General Hunter" is a Vice Admiral in the novels and "Colonel Edwards" is likewise a Major General.)

When the assembled Sentinels are shown, they include characters who appear to be Burak, Kami (redesigned with a more compact breathing apparatus and and a sharper, more dangerous look), Baldan, and Gnea. However, since Burak was slated to be killed off in the liberation of Peryton and Baldan was killed in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book III #3, and these characters go unnamed, it might not be them. (Also, with the passage of so many years, the Sphersian could very well be Baldan II, who was just a boy when we last saw him in the Sentinels comics.)

When the year passes, Rick's hair turns all white, the first stage of his transformation into the Rick Hunter we see in the Shadow Chronicles animation. Considering the fact that his arch enemy ran off with an experimental starship and brand new fighters invisible to radar, kidnapped his old girlfriend, seriously injured his wife, killed his unborn child, and crippled his flagship, I don't blame him. (Okay, half that was the Regent, but it was all in service to Edwards's master plan.) Until he finds out about the unborn child thing, though, Rick seems to give Edwards the benefit of the doubt, hinting at how Prelude Edwards is a very different animal than maniacal, grinning, evil Sentinels Edwards.

The ship that Vince Grant is given command of, the Tokugawa, was also put under his command in the opening chapter of McKinney's last Sentinels novel, Rubicon. Previously it had been commanded by one Commodore Renquist, a subordinate of T.R. Edwards, and was used to pursue Zentraedi Commander Breetai when he stole the monopole ore from the Zentraedi mining facility over Fantoma. In the Sentinels comics this happened in Book IV #2. However, there the Tokugawa was depicted as an Izumo-class vessel, same as the SDF-4 Liberator, not a ... well, Tokugawa-class vessel, like Major Carpenter's Recon-1. Still, it's an established ship in the old Sentinels canon, making for a nice bit of consistency.

Next issue

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Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles (WildStorm/DC Comics)

Five-issue mini-series / October 2005 - January 2006
Story by Tommy Yune

There are those who will call me a traitor ... but they won't be writing the history books.

THE LOWDOWN

In 2022, the SDF-3 Pioneer Mission went to the stars and beyond in search of the homeworld of the Robotech Masters in order to prevent a second Robotech War on Earth. Having failed that goal, they nonetheless reached a state of uneasy peace on the Masters' homeworld of Tirol after defeating a garrison left behind by the Masters' long-time foes, the Invid. Now the Robotech Expeditionary Force finds itself divided, pitted against forces under the command of the renegade General T.R. Edwards and equipped with experimental stealth technology and new weapons against which the bulk of the REF is defenseless. Making matters worse, Edwards has allied himself with the Invid Regent, who covered Edwards's escape by all but destroying the REF's flagship, the SDF-3. With the help of their own alien allies, the Sentinels, the Expeditionary Force prepares for a climactic battle that will finally put to rest demons decades old.

BACKGROUND INFO

Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles is a series designed to serve many masters, but is too short to effectively do it all. First of all, it marks the return of Robotech II: The Sentinels artists Jason & John Waltrip to the franchise after nine long years. Indeed, one of the goals with this series as defined by Harmony Gold Creative Director Tommy Yune was to give them a chance to tie up the loose ends of their adaptation of Sentinels. However, as the title of the series makes obvious, there is another, more pressing master to serve -- the Shadow Chronicles animation. Consequently, Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles acts as a bridge between the two works, carrying over certain characters, elements, and plot points from the Waltrips' version of The Sentinels and guiding them into the world of the new animation. Considering the fact that the Waltrips were working in a ROBOTECH universe built along the guidelines of the Jack McKinney Sentinels novels and now found themselves transplanting their plot points into the new, modern Robotech.com timeline, the result is something of an unclear hodge-podge, picking up only the major thread of the final issue of The Sentinels -- the escape of General T.R. Edwards and his forces -- and considering the rest of the story moot. The campaign to liberate the worlds of the Sentinels is established as long over, the traitorous Invid scientist Tesla is nowhere to be found, and while the Invid Regent is still at large the Expeditionary Force seems to consider him and his forces a lesser threat, weakened and driven back to Optera.

Despite being trained artists rather than writers, the Waltrips were originally only brought in to write Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles. Omar Dogan of Udon Studios, who previously worked on the mecha art on Invasion, handled the art for most of the series, giving it a look somewhere between traditional American comic art and the ROBOTECH series's anime roots. All of the characters and uniforms were redesigned to match the style of the Shadow Chronicles film; Dogan himself redesigned Jack Baker, giving him an older look to go with his new responsibilities, and aged Long Vo's redesigned T.R. Edwards from From The Stars to bring him closer to the familiar cowled General Edwards of The Sentinels. Gone are the flare-shouldered harnesses of the Sentinels era, and in their place are more sensible, New Generation-style jumpsuits and Macross-style uniform jackets. The only real holdover is the in-jokey presence of the Haydonite armored uniforms the Waltrips designed for Sentinels Book IV during the first half of issue #1; Rick Hunter and Jean Grant are seen wearing them throughout the opening scenes, though no reason is given in-story for them.

Prelude was originally going to be released biweekly; the first two issues came out on that schedule, but the plan was for the last issue to come out right before the Shadow Chronicles DVD in December of 2005. Unfortunately, the distribution deal that was being taken into consideration when the first two issues of the series were in production fell through, meaning that the rapid schedule no longer needed to be maintained. As a consequence, issues #3-5 were released monthly. Despite this, Omar Dogan fell behind on drawing issue #4 -- I seem to recall hearing that the holidays slowed him down -- and rather than have the book be delayed, Jason & John Waltrip were recruited to draw the final act of the Edwards storyline, which included the final eight pages of issue #4 and the first seven pages of issue #5. Featured in those pages is a major cliffhanger invented by the Waltrips for their version of The Sentinels; it's a nice touch that they were given the opportunity to fully realize this sequence.

Sales of the series in the direct market were dismal; despite a year passing between ROBOTECH comic series, Prelude quickly picked up right where Invasion's falling sales figures left off. The direct market stores clearly no longer had any faith in the ROBOTECH name to sell books, and given the fact that this series in particular requires a certain amount of hardcore ROBOTECH fan knowledge to make any sense whatsoever, I almost don't blame them.

Issues #2-5 each contain two pages of material relating to the production of the Shadow Chronicles film, very much like a modern version of the animation production process walkthrough presented in Carl Macek's Robotech Art 3: The Sentinels, complete with character and mecha model sheets. Interestingly, some of which relate only to the Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles storyline as opposed to the Shadow Chronicles film, such as pre-Shadow Chronicles uniform designs and unique mecha.

PRELUDE TO THE SHADOW CHRONICLES

LINKS

Robotech Invid War #2 (of 18)

"Salvation Run"

Story - Bill Spangler & Tim Eldred
Pencils & Letters - Tim Eldred
Inks & Tones - Fred Perry
Cover Painting - Robert Chang
Publisher - Dave Olbrich
Editor-In-Chief - Chris Ulm
Editor - Dan Danko

Published by Eternity Comics, a division of Malibu Graphics Publishing Group.

Release date - June 17, 1992
Cover date - June 1992

THE STORY


The Invid Invasion of Earth begins has begun. Their first act is to wipe out all planetary defenses in orbit, including the recently returned Robotech Factory Satellite. They then turn to planetside defenses. Communication lines between terrestrial bases are shattered by electromagnetic pulses from above, and the few remaining Southern Cross forces that rise up to stop the new menace are crushed by the Invid's overwhelming might. Watching from above, the crew of Moon Base ALuCE II, an underground base constructed shortly after the defeat of the Robotech Masters, could do only that without communications from the mother planet. In a way, the Invid overlords returned a lost sense of stability to the fractured and factionalized world. They put the survivors work in their hives, where the Invid began their Great Work.

It is now a cold, dark March evening in the year 2033 C.E. At the former United Earth Government base known as Vahalla, Jonathan Wolff's slumber is interrupted by a call informing him of a strong transmission coming from a lone fighter returning to Earth. With no sign of Invid interference, Wolff heads down to establish contact.

At the communications center, Wolff asks Major Carpenter how they're doing. "So far, so good. She's at 900 kilometers and descending," Carpenter says. Wolff radios the fighter, designated Legioss 3, and identifies himself. The transmission is kind of hazy. "What's the status of Moon Base ALuCE?" Wolff asks. Legioss 3 tells him they're holding their own, but it's a long story. She was intending on landing at Pinnacle Base, but she says Carpenter told her that wouldn't be safe. Wolff tells her that they haven't heard from Pinnacle since the night of the invasion; for all they know the UEG no longer exists. Legioss 3 isn't surprised.

At that moment, a team of Invid Shock Troopers rise through the atmosphere to attack Legioss 3. She switches her Alpha to Battloid and blasts one with her gun pod. Another one passes her by, swiping at one of her boosters and frying it. Legioss 3 jettisons the others and they detonate, destroying two Invid.

Back at Vahalla, Wolff asks if they can supply any backup, but he's told they can't do it fast enough. Legioss 3 radios back and tells she can probably lose the last of the Invid in reentry. Radio contact is lost as the Alpha descends into the atmosphere, and Wolff asks if they can figure out where Legioss 3 is going to touch down. "I think so ... grid reference MK-41." Wolff recognizes that as the territory of the Defoliators, an anti-Robotechnology group.

The following day, Wolff, Carpenter, and a pair of foragers take a jeep out into the wastelands in order to find Legioss 3. "We need to get in, get the pilot, and get out without attracting any attention," Wolff says. Norvell, one of the foragers, asks Wolff what will happen if the Defoliators get the pilot first. Wolff fears it won't be as simple as a mere trade; the leader of the Defoliators has a personal dispute with Wolff. "When I left for Tirol back in 2020, I left my wife and son here on Earth. We had split up, although we never officially got divorced. When I returned last year, I tried to contact them ... but they had moved out of our old home. I didn't know whether they were dead or alive ... and before long, I got bogged down in trying to create an anti-Invid resistance. The remainder of the United Earth Government had moved to an underground complex in the Rockies called Pinnacle Base. We decided to hold a summit conference there, with as many factions as we could. The Defoliators was one of the factions. They believed that Earth would be safe if we destroyed all our Protoculture and all our Flowers of Life." Norvell asks how this got personal. "My son, Johnny, is the leader of the Defoliators. He didn't arrive until after the conference officially started. On the SDF-3, Dr. Lang had told me what to expect, but I really didn't believe it until I saw it. When I had left Earth, Johnny was six. I had aged only a couple of years aboard the SDF-3, but thirteen years had passed on Earth. Johnny was now a man. What's more, he was his own man."

Carpenter interrupts Wolff's story to point out that they've got company -- an old Cestus battlesuit, probably from the Defoliators. Norvell floors the accelerator, and the Cestus tries to blast them. As the foragers argue, a shot strikes right in front of them. Carpenter asks if they fight or run, but Wolff says neither. "If we surrender, we stand a better chance of being taken to where they're holding the pilot." They stop the jeep, raise their hands, and the Cestus pilot radios for another vehicle to pick them up and take them the rest of the way, as prisoners. Staring out at the barren land behind him, Wolff thinks back to his encounter with his son. "How can you possibly believe this?" he had asked. "Protoculture is the only weapon we've got against the Invid." "But the Protoculture is what's drawing the Invid to Earth!" Johnny countered. "You said that yourself! If we destroy the Protoculture, they'll go someplace else!" Wolff asked Johnny for his help to try and pull the factions together before the Invid, but Johnny refused. "You ran out on Mom and me! You left us here to face the Masters, and the gangs and metrobosses. And now you expect me to treat you like my father! You're not my father! I don't even know who you are!"

Carpenter taps Wolff on the shoulder and tells him they've arrived. Their destination appears to be a temporary camp made up of a few tents and a large military transport. While the Defoliators have found the Alpha, the pilot's location is a mystery. The Defoliators lead Wolff, Carpenter, and the foragers to their transport, when Wolff suddenly recognizes one of them as Gary Hauser, a colleague of Johnny's. Wolff asks how Catherine and Johnny are. Hauser has some bad news. "John and his mother were captured in an Invid raid on Cutlerville ... we don't know whether they're alive or dead." Wolff begins to tear up, but Hauser says there are more pressing concerns. "I want you to tell me everything you know about that Alpha." The foragers act like they're in some sort of bad comedy routine, but Hauser demands to know if the Alpha is one of Wolff's, and more importantly, where the pilot is. Just then, someone blasts the Defoliators' transport, knocking Hauser unconscious. Carpenter quickly grabs a gun and orders the team to move, when another blast strikes the transport. Wolff suddenly notices a soldier in Cyclone armor behind them -- the pilot of Legioss 3, Bekka Cade. She tells the four to get into the truck. Norvell takes the wheel and as the Alpha goes up in flames, the truck speeds away.

The following morning, with the Defoliators off their tail, Wolff and company stop the truck and rendezvous with Lt. Cade. She tells Wolff that she's sorry about his family and asks if there's anything she can do. "I'm not sure there's anything anyone can do. Catherine and Johnny may be dead. They may be slaves at one of those Protoculture farms. The Invid may be planning to use them to reach me. I've fought the Invid before. Anything is possible." Carpenter asks if they can expect any help from ALuCE II. She tells him that's why she came down to Earth. "When the Factory Satellite started up again last year, a percentage of all the mecha produced were sent to ALuCE II as a reserve force. We hated just sitting and watching during the invasion, but those were our orders. But now that the situation's stabilized a little, we want to launch a full-scale assault on Reflex Point, the Invid headquarters. My mission is to reestablish contact with ALuCE II and to coordinate an attack with the United Earth Government ... or what's left of it." Wolff notices a shimmering of light in the distance and realizes what it is. He leaps out of the way and tells Bekka to look out as a shot rings out. She lowers her visor and speeds off after him. Wolff tells her to take him alive if possible.

Mere minutes later, Bekka leads her prisoner back to the truck. It's Gavin Murdock, former leader of the ex-Southern Cross unit known as the Stone Men. Wolff explains to his companions that Murdock believes Wolff betrayed him to the GMP. While this isn't the case, Wolff has no way to prove it. Carpenter asks what to do with him, and Wolff says to take his firearms from him and let him go. "I never intended to hurt him or his people," Wolff says. "Maybe now he'll believe it." Murdock's still pretty angry. "You are hard to please, aren't you?" Wolff says. "Suppose I gave you another choice. Suppose I give you a chance to do something good with all that anger ... there's a big assault against the Invid coming, and I'm going to need men. Men I can trust. You in?" Murdock hesitates for a moment, but joins up. Carpenter asks if this is a good idea, and while Wolff has his doubts, he does want to convince Murdock that he's telling the truth. "Besides," he adds, "we're going to need all the help we can get."

NOTES

TIMELINE - Jack McKinney novels timeline.

MAJOR CHARACTERS
  • Jonathan Wolff
  • John Carpenter (last seen in Robotech Masters #10)
  • Bekka Cade (first published appearance, last seen in Invid War #6)
  • Norvell
  • Parkes (final appearance)
  • Gavin Murdock
  • John "Johnny" Wolff (last seen in The Malcontent Uprisings #9, final appearance)
  • Gary Hauser (first chronological & published appearance)
Actually, while this is the last we see of the forager who has, up to now, been referred to as Parkes, the next time we see Norvell he's calling himself Parkes; he goes by that name until the last time we see him in Invid War #4.

Much like most of the pre-Return to Macross work of Bill Spangler, this takes place firmly within the timeline of the ROBOTECH novels by Brian Daley and James Luceno working under the pen name Jack McKinney. The most obvious touchstone is Wolff's quote of 2020 as the year he left for Tirol, taken from the Sentinels novels. The destruction of the Factory Satellite at the hands of the Invid early on also comes straight from McKinney, specifically their adaptation of the New Generation TV series. At the same time, due to the date quoted by Wolff as well as the use of McKinney's "five year fold" plot point to make Johnny Wolff as old as he is compared to his father, the story doesn't work in the context of the more modern material. I've never been a big fan of the idea that the fold drives used by the Expeditionary Force keep taking five years, but Spangler and Eldred use it very effectively in this chapter of Jonathan Wolff's most unfortunate story arc.

The Cestus Battlesuit that appears here is a Shoji Kawamori creation, designed for Super Dimension Fortress Macross when it was still in the planning stages under the title Battle City Megaroad, back in 1980. It's actually a very early predecessor to the VF-1 Valkyrie, and is even supposed to be able to transform into a sort of Fighter mode with the cannon on the right arm as the nose of the jet. If you look closely at the art here, there's an "MPM" on the left arm, which I think stands for "Macross Perfect Memory," the artbook that Eldred and/or Spangler would have most likely seen it in back in 1992.

For the few of you who aren't aware by now, the term "Legioss," used here as Bekka Cade's callsign, is actually the proper name for the Alpha Fighter in the original Japanese TV series Genesis Climber Mospeada, the program that was dubbed into English and rewritten to create the New Generation episodes of ROBOTECH. Later material, most notably the novel Before The Invid Storm, appropriates the term as the name of a docked Alpha and Beta Fighter, but here Bekka is using a generic booster pack.

This issue introduces Moon Base ALuCE II, which presumably corresponds with the base seen at the end of the ROBOTECH TV series and referred to simply as ALuCE in the Shadow Chronicles film. Despite being equipped with Cyclones and Alphas, here it is a Southern Cross installation, as its predecessor was following its seizure by the military.

I have to give Spangler & Eldred points for their clever use of the Factory Satellite as a plot point; since it was the staging base for the SDF-3 mission, it's only natural that it might still contain machinery capable of producing Alpha Fighters. On the other hand, I'm not too keen on the idea of bringing back the Factory Satellite only to have it destroyed by the Invid. Then again, as I pointed out above, Spangler was only following McKinney's lead with that one. It does beg the question though, if the Factory Satellite met such an end, what then of Space Station Liberty? Did it just fold away (unlikely, as McKinney implies that only the REF had fold-capable ships during the Second Robotech War), or was it destroyed as well?

As an amusing aside, in the ROBOTECH TV series both Jonathan Wolff and John Carpenter are played by the same actor, Thomas Wyner.

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Robotech: Vermilion (Antarctic Press)

Bimonthly mini-series / August 1997 - February 1998
By Duc Tran

After witnessing the true power and vastness of the Zentraedi fleet, I am convinced it is only a matter of time before the Earth is destroyed. Your problem is the SDF-1. I can deliver it to you, for a price ...

THE LOWDOWN

The SDF-1's journey back to Earth is at an end, and all's been quiet over the Pacific for a week now. Lt. Rick Hunter of the Vermilion team has been spending some of his time breaking in a new Veritech pilot, Hiro Amano. During a training session in the skies far from the SDF-1, Hunter leaves Amano behind to continue practicing his manevuers, a critical error in judgment that results in Amano's disappearance. With some help from his mentor, Roy Fokker, Hunter is given access to an experimental long-range radar plane to find his missing trainee. What he finds instead is a conspiracy involving a traitorous general more interested in maintaining his family's military legacy than the survival of mankind, a like-minded Veritech squadron equipped with deadly new equipment, and the defectors' unpredictable ally ... the Zentraedi warlord Khyron.

BACKGROUND INFO

When the first issue of this series hit the comic racks shortly before Labor Day of 1997, I'd never even heard of it. The first issue's cover doesn't say much except that it apparently stars Rick Hunter, taking fashion tips from Megazone 23's Shogo, in the good old First Robotech War days. Indeed, aside from issue 2's cover, the covers only feature Rick Hunter and either an orangish VF-series Veritech or the SDF-1. Nice art, but not much meat there.

While the first issue of Duc Tran's four-issue story runs a mere thirteen story pages (the remainder is a clunky New Generation recap), it does manage to capture a very traditional manga-style feel, down to the speedlines, the effective gray tone work, and even the shape of the word balloons (nubs pointing to the speaker rather than the pointed tails that American comics have). The character designs are also fairly impressive, suggesting what the Macross cast might look like were they redesigned by Evangelion's Yoshiyuki Sadamoto. The new characters are interesting, if shallowly scripted -- like many of the new characters that Antarctic's books introduced, they left me wanting at least some additional background on them, or better, further adventures featuring the cast along the lines of Cyberpirates lead Terry Weston's appearances in McKinney's The Masters' Gambit or his short-lived return in Bill Spangler and Tim Eldred's Invid War.

Like many other ROBOTECH mini-series, despite a number of logistical flaws and a very rushed ending that juxtaposes a disturbing death with super deformed nonsense, this is a fairly entertaining little tale, even with the stigma of being an Antarctic Press Macross side-story.

VERMILION

  • Issue 1 -- Vermilion
  • Issue 2 -- Vermilion Ver. 2
  • Issue 3 -- Vermilion 3
  • Issue 4 -- Vermilion 4

LINKS

  • DAMAGEd -- The personal website of l0cke, the artist formerly known as Duc Tran, featuring comics, illustrations, and more.