Super Dimension Fortress Macross #1
Editing & Script - Carl Macek
Pencils - Svea Stauch
Inks, Colors, and Production - Phil Lasorda, Gerry Giovinco, with much help from Vince Argondezzi and Dotty Linberg
Letters - Carrie Spiegle
Production Assistant - Aaron Keaton
Published by Comico The Comic Company.
Release date - Approx. January 3, 1985
Cover date - 1984
THE STORY"The alien invasion began almost coincidentally. A mammoth interstellar fortress ripped through the fabric of hyperspace on a collision course with the Earth. Whether by chance or some obscure twist of fate, this alien vessel was drawn toward the unsuspecting planet. The ship appeared over the South Pacific as a destructive fireball racing across the nighttime sky. Most people interpreted the incident as though the Earth had been struck by a giant meteor. Most people had other things on their minds ... like trying to survive World War III. An uneasy peace eventually came to his global conflict. The peace was the result of a group of people who knew that what hit the Earth was not a meteor ... but a machine of destruction--the product of an alien technology lightyears ahead of that of the Earth's. A United Earth Government was formed. Its sole purpose was to create a global defense system utilizing the reconditioned space fortress as an offensive weapon."
Ten years pass. On the day of the maiden voyage of the rebuilt alien space fortress, now christened the Macross, citizens of the metropolis that grew around it worry that without the ship their home will become a ghost town. They watch as a limousine carrying Captain Gloval and Senator Russo passes by, and two citizens comment that without those men the ship would never have been repaired or funded.
Inside the limo, Russo tells Gloval to cheer up. "In less than half an hour, the Macross will be in your command. The least you could do is act like you're having a good time." Gloval remarks that he had his good time last night and worries that they might not be doing the right thing with the Macross.
On the bridge of the space fortress, Lisa Hayase arrives to tell the rest of the crew to look sharp, because Gloval's limo has arrived. "I don't know what's gotten into the captain ... coming aboard so late. He practically missed the entire ceremony." Claudia tells her that he probably got the most out of his "shore leave."
"Well, Claudia ... some of us consider duty before pleasure," Lisa quips.
Claudia asks if she's referring to her seeing Lt. Commander Fokker the night before, and states that what she does on her own time has no effect on her performance as an officer. Lisa asks about Roy, and Claudia points out that during the war Roy shot down five enemy planes with a hangover. Before she can add anything, Lisa suddenly notices something on her radar screen. It's a tiny plane piloted by one Rick Yamata, invitation #1021. Lisa confirms that as an invitation from Lt. Commander Fokker and gives him a heading for landing.
Below, Roy Fokker narrates the actions of the newly-designed Valkyrie Fighters overhead. Suddenly a little air racer appears among them and a loudmouthed pilot addresses Fokker.
"It's been a long time Captain! You sent me this invitation -- now tell me where to land."
Fokker tells his old friend that this is no playground, but Rick counters that he's not here to play -- he's here to show Fokker how a real pilot can fly a plane! He nearly takes off Fokker's head with a low dive, then fires his boosters and joins the Valkyries in a burst formation. Rick lands his racer and Roy takes off after him, demanding an explanation. As Rick climbs out of his plane, he reminds Roy that he was the one who taught him the booster climb. Roy comments that he heard he won the amateur pilot competition last month and asks about Rick's family. "You promised my father that when the war was over you'd come back to the air team," Rick reminds him. Roy apologizes, then notes how he shot down 180 planes during the war. "So, you're proud of being a killer?" Rick asks. Roy says it's kind of hard to explain. "When you start flying those fighter planes .. well, something happens inside of you ... and nothing seems the same." Rick figures he could be right. "But for now," he says, "why don't you start by giving me the grand tour?"
On the far side of the moon, a fleet of Zentraedis warships materializes from hyperspace. Aboard the flagship, Commander Breetai asks his aide Exedore if this was the quadrant he traced the transmission to, and also asks if he checked to see if the ship executed a refold. Exedore states that the computer indicates that there was no second jump, and that the ship must be on this planet. "Perhaps their damages have forced them to retreat to this zone," Breetai suggests. "There is a good possibility that we can end this war within the hour." He orders a recon vessel to go down and investigate.
Back on Earth, Rick admires one of the new Valkyrie fighters. He tells Roy that while it looks impressive, he wonders how it handles. Roy suggests climbing aboard and finding out for himself. As Rick climbs on-board, Roy asks if Rick has the guts to fly one of these things. "Just as long as I'm at the controls," Rick quips.
Elsewhere on the island, Russo is making a speech about how what an asset Macross has been to the community and is introducing Gloval when an officer arrives to tell Gloval that sensors have detected unusual activity near the moon and he's needed on the bridge. Just as Russo prepares to turn the microphone over to Gloval, he takes off for the bridge.
On the bridge, Claudia remarks that every system on-board is starting up on its own. The booms that make up the front third of the ship begin to separate and energy begins to crackle around them. Gloval makes it to the bridge and, as his head slams against the too-low doorway, he tells the crew to shut down all the systems. As energy surges between the Macross's twin booms, Claudia attempts to shut off the ship's power, but to no avail. The guns, as Claudia notes forebodingly, are going to fire. Lisa asks what they're going to do, but Gloval has no answer.
Suddenly, the pent-up energy between the booms discharges, blazing forth over the rooftops of the city, through the island's terrain, and into space, obliterating the Zentraedis scout vessels.
Watching the carnage, Breetai notes that this attack confirms Macross's presence on that planet. He orders all ships to advance in full balance formation immediately.
Claudia reports that the computer is responding to their programs again, and Lisa asks Gloval if he's all right.
On the ground, Rick is stunned by the display. "What are they trying to do, blow the island apart?" Roy leaps out of the Valkyrie's back seat to find out what's going on.
Lisa receives the space monitor report, which states that what they were attacking appears to be two large objects out in lunar orbit, probably spaceships. Gloval concludes that this was a booby trap. "The aliens who abandoned Macross must have armed it with an automatic defense system designed to detect and destroy their enemies. The system's activation means that an unfriendly force has approached close enough to be a threat to the Macross." Out of nervous habit, Gloval pulls out his pipe. Just then, Sammy pipes up, telling him that there's no smoking on the bridge. "I wasn't going to light it! I was just holding it," he comments, putting his tobacco back in his uniform jacket. He asks Claudia for a report on all systems and orders Lisa to scramble all fighters and prepare for combat.
Below, Roy orders the runway cleared and the Valkyries armed.
In space, Armour 1-A base responds to the Zentraedis' approach. Lancer space fighters are launched and attack upon visual contact; at the same time the space platform begins bombarding the Zentraedis craft with missiles. Their attack has little effect. Breetai orders a standard laser bombardment, and when the space platform breaks out its nuclear weapons, he finds this simply amazing. "Primitive nuclear weapons," he muses with a quizzical grin, "and it appears that they have not raised their particle beam shields." Exedore wonders if it's a trick of some sort to lull them into a false sense of confidence, and also wonders why they haven't broken out their reflex weaponry. "These soldiers act as if they've never engaged in real space combat before," Breetai notes with a sinister smile. "Press the attack."
In moments, the Zentraedis' intense laser barrage rips Armour 2 to pieces and Armour 1-A makes a hasty retreat before it shares Armour 2's fate.
Word soon reaches Captain Gloval. He muses how the aliens have shattered his hopes of world without war, and orders Lisa to prepare the Macross for combat. She orders the Valkyries to take off.
Back on the Zentraedis flagship, Breetai spots the Macross among what he refers to as "the most disorderly display of primitive military organization that I have ever seen." Exedore points out that while it does resemble Macross, it looks strangely different. Breetai assures him it is no trick, and that the initial reflex weapon attack was a clear invitation for battle. Still, he advises all ships to proceed with caution.
Zentraedis fighters break through the atmosphere. The Earth forces fire a barrage of missiles to counterattack.
On the exhibition ground, Rick is awakened from his slumber in the Valkyrie cockpit by an order from Lisa to take off. He tries to tell her that he's not a combat pilot, but his words are met on deaf ears. He tells her that the runway is demolished, but she tells him that runway 2 is clear, and that he's holding up the rest of the squadron. Thus, the brash young amateur is thrust into the thick of battle.
Rick takes off to the skies and is met by the sight of hundreds of dazzling explosions. In the air, he is reunited with Roy and asks his former mentor what the hell is going on. "Rick ... so you decided to try your hand at being a fighter pilot after all," Roy comments with a smile. Rick insists that it wasn't his idea, and Roy tells him that while combat can be scary, it's really not too much different from the good ol' days at the flying circus. While Rick talks big about not leaving his old friend behind, he finds himself blasted out of the sky within moments. Stunned, Roy tells Rick to climb and bank, but Rick can't get control of his craft.
As Rick's Valkyrie dives towards the Macross, Lisa radios Rick and tells him to switch to Battloid mode. Rick has no clue what she's talking about, but she tells him to pull down the control marked "B" on the left side of his console. He pulls the one marked "G" instead, and gears and hydraulics within the craft begin to turn and hiss, changing the fighter into a squat, avian robot resembling a bird of prey. It continues to fall, finally crashing into a mess of buildings as Rick realizes he's pulled the wrong lever. He pulls the one marked "B", and soon the Valkyrie Fighter shifts again into a more humanoid configuration. As it rises to its feet, Rick wonders how he can get out of this "flying nightmare."
NOTESTIMELINE - This is a mostly faithful adaptation of Harmony Gold's English language version of the first episode of the Japanese television series Super Dimension Fortress Macross, "Boobytrap," which was soon after adapted into the first episode of the ROBOTECH TV series. As such, with a few character name swaps and some minor rewrites here and there, it can fill the shoes of "Boobytrap" in any version of the ROBOTECH timeline.
- Tommy Luan (last seen in Return to Macross #37)
- Henry J. Gloval (last seen in Civil War Stories #1)
- Senator Russo (last seen in Return to Macross #24)
- Lisa Hayase [Lisa Hayes] (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #11 "Prototype 001: Variants Part 4")
- Claudia Grant (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #11 "Prototype 001: Variants Part 4")
- Vanessa Leeds (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #8 "Prototype 001: Variants Part 1")
- Kim Young (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #8 "Prototype 001: Variants Part 1")
- Sammy [Sammie Porter] (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #8 "Prototype 001: Variants Part 1")
- Roy Fokker (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #11 "Prototype 001: Variants Part 4")
- Rick Yamata [Rick Hunter] (last seen in Robotech: The Graphic Novel)
- Lynn Minmei (last seen in Robotech (WildStorm) #4)
- Lynn Jason (first appearance)
- Breetai (last seen in Metalswarm #1)
- Exedore (last seen in Metalswarm #1)
This is the first issue of what would, a few months later, be called Robotech: The Macross Saga. However, it was published before the names and plot elements unique to the ROBOTECH version of Macross were created. As such, there are no references to "Zor's battlefortress," or Robotechnology, or even Rick Hunter -- he's got a different name, though oddly enough, it's not Hikaru Ichijyo. This comic was created to tie into Harmony Gold's VHS release of the first three episodes of Macross, advertised in the back of this very comic book. (Those curious can watch the first half hour of that release on Elements of Robotechnology V, the extras disc released with the Robotech Legacy Collection 5 DVD box, also available with the Protoculture Edition complete remastered series DVD box set.)
The character names are an interesting mixed bag of ROBOTECH names, original Japanese Macross names, and names that seem to have been changed almost at random. The worst offender is the name of our brash young amateur pilot hero; originally named "Hikaru Ichijyo" in the original Japanese program, here he becomes "Rick Yamata," which is almost "Rick Hunter" but is still kind of Japanese. Similarly, "Misa Hayase" becomes "Lisa Hayase," which is almost "Lisa Hayes," but again is still Japanese, though more faithfully in that case.
Otherwise we're in ROBOTECH territory, complete with "Henry Gloval" and "Roy Fokker" instead of "Bruno Gloval" and "Roy Focker." The technology retains its original flavor, with Valkyries instead of Veritechs and the Macross" rather than the nameless SDF-1. And oddly enough, as you may have noticed, the word "Zentraedi" is permanently plural for some bizarre reason. It wasn't so in the Space Fortress Macross pilot episode produced by Harmony Gold that ties into this comic book, so I don't know what the deal with that is.
I believe it is as a consequence of this book's non-ROBOTECHness that "Boobytrap" was adapted twice more into comic book form -- first as Comico's one and only 3-D ROBOTECH comic special, with a strikingly unique scripting job by The Macross Saga and The New Generation dialogue wizard Markalan Joplin and art by The Macross Saga mainstay Mike Leeke, and then in the mid-1990's Return to Macross and Academy Blues artist Sean Bishop would do a staggeringly faithful black & white adaptation of ROBOTECH's first episode. Both are a cut above this adaptation, but neither are in full color like this one.
Despite some stilted dialogue here and there, Macek does a pretty solid job of adapting the first episode of Macross into comic book form, complete with lines that are remarkably faithful to the Japanese version (Claudia talking to Lisa about Roy's service record while hung over) and to the ROBOTECH version that eventually aired on American television (Gloval's explanation of the "booby trap" is almost word for word from the TV series, minus the references to the Macross). Some scenes are needlessly overexplained, such as Rick's VF-1D's transformation -- Macek added the accidental switch to GERWALK when its pass through that mode was considered a legitimate transition to Battloid in the actual episode -- and he uses a few cliches like they're going out of style, such as two instances of "duty before pleasure" and the bit where Rick awkwardly spits out, "Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing," at the end, but the trims and the pacing of the adaptation work nicely. I especially like what Roy says to Rick about flying fighter planes: "When you start flying those fighter planes ... well something happens inside of you ... and nothing seems the same." Vague and kind of awkward, but certainly a much more substantial statement than that horribly overquoted line that replaced it in ROBOTECH -- you know the one:
"This Robotech thing is just so exciting I just couldn't give it up! It just gets in your blood or something, I don't know."
There's a weird bit of mistranslation during the attack on the space platforms. Breetai refers to the humans' "primitive nuclear weapons," then Exedore asks why they didn't destroy the Zentraedis with their "reflex weaponry." I'm not clear on how this got bungled between the Japanese script, the English language series script, and Macek's comic script, but what they call "reflex weaponry" is more commonly translated into English as "reaction weaponry," which in fact is a different way of saying "nuclear weaponry." It was only in ROBOTECH that the term "reflex" somehow came to mean Protoculture-based -- at this point "Protoculture" hadn't even been redefined yet, after all. The point being, though, that I have NO idea what, in this version of Macross, Exedore would be referring to when he mentions "reflex weaponry."
As far as the artwork goes: at first glance, the painted art in this book is kind of stunning, in a good way. As ROBOTECH series producer -- and this issue's script writer -- Carl Macek helpfully points out, all the character and mechanical art was done on animation cel-like overlays, while the backgrounds were painted on separate layers. The effect is quite nice. It's a shame the character and mecha art on the whole isn't very good, and to be honest, I'm not sure who to blame. The attention to detail is there, but the raw talent doesn't seem to be present. I think it might be fair to split the blame between penciler Svea Stauch and the inking staff. After all, there seem to be some decent shots ruined by sloppy inks, but there are some shots which have odd, awkward poses.
Most of the more well-staged shots are directly adapted from the show, which means that for serious fans of the show reading the comic gives the weird sense of looking at it through a fun house mirror. To put a finer point on it, it's immediately recognizable as something familiar, but somehow not as good -- kind of like watching the dumb, poorly-written and cheaply animated cartoons you loved as a child years later with all your adult sensibilities, only without the weird sense of guilt.
As an aside, notice how the cover depicts the Macross in its humanoid "attack" mode, while the ship doesn't enter that configuration (and in fact cannot enter that mode, since the fold drives are still intact) until episode/issue #5.
Also, that VF-1J on the cover is a bit huge, isn't it?
This issue was, almost two decades later, reprinted in the Robotech: The Macross Saga Vol. 1 trade paperback, published by WildStorm/DC Comics (January 2003). However, a few changes were made. The text of all six issues reprinted in the volume was relettered by computer. In some cases, especially in this issue, that involved changing the content of the text as well. That version of this issue features ALL of the proper ROBOTECH terminology (although some references to the ship as "Macross" remain) and also features a number of additional changes, including spelling and punctuation changes and the addition of certain bits of dialogue which brings it closer to the first episode of the ROBOTECH TV series. For instance:
Original: "The alien invasion began almost coincidentally. A mammoth interstellar fortress ripped through the fabric of hyperspace on a collision course with the Earth."
Revised: "In 1999, a giant alien battlefortress ripped through the fabric of hyperspace on a collision course with the Earth."
Original: "Most people interpreted the incident as though the Earth had been struck with a giant meteor. Most people had other things on their minds ... like trying to survive World War III."
Revised: "The general public interpreted the incident as though the Earth had been struck by a giant meteor. The rest of the world was preoccupied ... in the clutches of a global war."
Original: "When you start flying those fighter planes ... well something happens inside of you ... and nothing seems the same."
Revised: "When you start flying those fighter planes ... well, something happens inside of you ... it just gets in your blood."
(That seems a fair compromise, to be honest.)
Original: "Amazing Exedore. Primitive nuclear weapons. And it appears that they have not raised their partical beam shields."
Revised: "Very heavy resistance. But why are they using such primitive weapons? Our scout ships are breaking through."
(Note that this fixes one of my concerns above.)
Original: "With what? We have fired all missiles, sir. And the aliens are beyond the range of our lasers."
Revised: "Mayday! Mayday! This is Armor-2 space cruiser calling SDF-1. Come in, SDF-1."
This is merely a sampling of the changes made, though I'm pretty sure this covers all of the major rewrites for this issue. Just be aware that the version of Macross #1 that appears in The Macross Saga Vol. 1 is not an entirely faithful representation of the comic book published back in the 1980's.