What's Past is Prelude Again: Examining the Shadow Chronicles Comic Preview (Part 2)

And, we're back. Let's take a look at the first page of DC's preview of Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles and see how it jibes with its truest progenitor, the Waltrips' Robotech II: The Sentinels comic book series.

Panel #1, a sepia-toned image of a gavel striking a table. This is a reference to the storyline going on back on Tirol during the final three issues of Robotech II: The Sentinels (Book IV #11-13). Following the liberation of Haydon IV, Colonel Jonathan Wolfe, Vince Grant, and Breetai returned to Tirol to answer for charges alleged by T.R. Edwards in his bid to seize further power. Expeditionary Force Plenipotentiary Council chairwoman Justine Huxley can be seen banging her gavel in the first of the two Sentinels panels provided. The second panel illustrates the result of the trial. In issue #11, Dr. Emil Lang tricks Edwards into baring his soul and, despite Edwards' belief that he has systems in place to prevent Lang from recording his megamaniacal monologue, finds an opportune time at the trial in the following issue to play back his venom-filled rants for the Plenipotentiary Council. So, after Edwards picks his jaw up off the floor, he makes a run for it.

The rant is pretty great:

Here's the oath I'll serve ... I swear to kill Wolff. I swear to exterminate Rick and Lisa Hunter, and Breetai, after I've made them suffer enough! The rest of you will 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!

On the one hand, most of the time during Robotech II: The Sentinels I was screaming at everyone, "WHY DON'T YOU NOTICE THIS GUY IS EVIL?!?" On the other, sometimes it's pretty darned entertaining having someone who will rain on everyone's parade and rant like this around. I am suddenly reminded of a scene early in Book II where Rick and Lisa are sharing a disgustingly cute romantic moment on the battlefield and Edwards grumbles something about a distinct lack of professionalism on their part. Gotta admit, the man's right ...

Beyond the fact that traditionally the Waltrips and their colorists portrayed Edwards' cowl as silver instead of black, the one noteworthy difference between their rendering of it and the animation model is the way that the Waltrips very much accentuate the fact that the bit over his eye is a sort of reflective substance, like glass. This will become noteworthy in a bit. As you can see, in Omar Dogan's reinterpretation of Edwards' character design, he makes the cowl more form-fitting and gives him three red sensors where the eyepiece traditionally goes, which I suppose act as an artificial eye. I wonder if he can still remove the cowl or if it's fixed there now ...

Panel #2, a gunshot. Hey, wait, that's not the same model of gun the Waltrips drew! However, I'm 98% certain this is the scene the Waltrips & Dogan are referencing in Prelude. When Edwards escapes from the Expeditionary Force after the trial, he makes one stop before making his grand departure -- to seize Lynn Minmei from her cell. Book IV of The Sentinels began with a mysterious benefactor whisking Minmei away; she had just finally rejected Edwards once and for all, and wanted to get as far from him as possible. Her benefactor stole a prototype Veritech and tried to use it to take her offworld, but they were forced down by Expeditionary Force fighters under Edwards' command and the mysterious man made his escape to try again later, while Minmei, perhaps starting to realize the identity of her rescuer, started to go a little crazy and was sedated and locked away. This is the end result of Minmei's guardian angel's second attempt to save her. He clobbers Edwards good, but is ultimately killed by the raging psycho.

Panel #3. Whoa, it's like Dogan had the original panel for reference. Neat. Minmei freaks out as Edwards kills her protector, who, yes, is actually Lynn Kyle, her cousin and former manager. He's been skulking around the SDF-3 for a really long time to keep an eye on Minmei and make sure she doesn't get in any trouble -- and yes, I realize that doesn't make any sense since Minmei wasn't originally supposed to be aboard the SDF-3 (she intentionally let history repeat itself, flying a shuttle into the SDF-3's fold bubble as it took off for Tirol), but I'm sure Kyle, having been spurned before due to Minmei's continuing fixation on Rick Hunter, knew she'd tag along after Rick, even after singing at the man's wedding to someone else. He knows -- err, knew her well enough.

Panel #4, Kyle falling dead. For brevity, I understand why we've got this simple image here, but Kyle's death was a slightly more complex sequence. Note that he was lunging at Edwards when Edwards shot him. He lands on top of Edwards, and has to be shoved aside, so when they leave him beside, he's facing up. This detail will be important shortly. Certainly by now you've also noticed that the falling body and lunging Kyle are wearing different uniforms. Kyle is wearing a Sentinels version Expeditionary Force flightsuit. The falling body, oddly enough, is wearing a Sentinels version Expeditionary Force duty uniform. Why is this odd? Because, if you look at the rest of the pages, everyone's already decked out in Shadow Chronicles uniforms! There's nary a Sentinels outfit in sight ... well, with two exceptions, but we'll get to them in a moment.

For the two of you out there who don't know a Sentinels Expeditionary Force uniform, here's some lineart of Max Sterling from Eternity Comics' old Sentinels Illustrated Handbook. I've shaded him in shades of gray to match the dead guy on the ground. Not that it's Max, y'know -- I assure you, it's Kyle, unless we're being given a sort of bait & switch here -- but he's in the right style uniform and has the right build for comparison. Max, if you're wondering, should be safe and sound on Haydon IV waiting for his new baby.

Oh, I forgot to mention the plot reason why Kyle has to be wearing a flightsuit ... he's been using a visor on the flight helmet (an eyeshield, like the one Rick flips down in the Robotech opening theme sequence) to hide his eyes so nobody knows who he is. So not only do we have a uniform that appears to have been retconned out here, but it's the wrong one! Oy!

Panel #5 features Expeditionary Force security officers busting in on the "scene of the crime." One of the few times we've previously seen Expeditionary Force security officers is the panel above from Sentinels Book III #2. I've helpfully provided a red arrow pointing to just about the best shot there is of this uniform/armor design in the entire Sentinels run. The faceplate on the helmet appears later on troops under Edwards' command, producing a sort of "nameless stormtrooper" effect.

The new uniform design feels like a transition uniform between Sentinels and The New Generation/Shadow Chronicles. The colors bring to mind the Shadow Chronicles palette, but the lines and color breaks have a very strong Waltrip Sentinels feel, as do those helmets.

The security officers are wielding Mars Gallants (the standard sidearm in the New Generation episodes of Robotech), though I don't think the Waltrips had introduced the Mars Gallants in the comic series yet -- Edwards' troops were all wielding conventional-looking rifles (Wolverine assault rifles?) at the end of Sentinels.

Panel #6 features the security officers beginning their search of the premises -- looks to me like the Waltrips & Dogan are shooting for the Plenipotentiary Council chambers (see the circular table at the bottom right corner of the panel). However, the trial of Wolff, Vince, and Breetai didn't take place in the actual council chambers, as they couldn't accomodate Breetai. I seem to recall they put some tables into a large room in the Tiresian Royal Hall. On top of that, however, Lynn Kyle wasn't killed at the trial -- in fact, short of maybe one nameless security officer Edwards zaps, nobody was killed during Edwards' initial escape. Lynn Kyle was killed in Minmei's cell beneath the Expeditionary Force headquarters on Tirol. If this is supposed to be the scene of that crime, there should also be the bodies of one of Edwards' men and the Expeditionary Force investigator he killed, Lt. Rebecca Nicks, who had been helping Kyle rescue Minmei.

The thing that makes all these discrepancies so aggravating are the uniforms the two people farthest in the back are wearing. To your left you'll see Sentinels Rick Hunter wearing it, in an image from Sentinels Book IV #9 which I have colored based on the cover art for that issue. See how short of one single line across the belly it's perfectly reproduced by Omar Dogan in the Prelude panel here? This is a Haydonite armor that the Sentinels recieve for leading the liberation of Haydon IV from the Invid. Affix the disc Rick is touching to your uniform, and it generates a light armor of similar design around the uniform. This was an invention of the Waltrips -- this did not appear in the Sentinels novels or the original plans for the animation. If you're going to shoehorn these into the storyline wholly intact, why are all these little niggling facts so inconsistent?

More tomorrow as we delve into the next page, which reveals the identity of our Haydonite armor-clad Expeditionary Force heroes, reintroduces T.R. Edwards, and further entrenches us in Sentinels continuity while openly denying it. Fun stuff!


  • Dude, I swear, more people should do stuff like this. I'm a 110% ANAL person about continuity (as every post I make at is nothing but continuity explanations), and I LOVE continuity analyses, especially for a guy like me who aside from 5 or 6 issues from the first dozen original Sentinels stories has NO exposure to it whatsoever, its great to see the mother of all cliffhangers the way it originally was more than a decade ago. I look forward to chapter 3!


    By Anonymous Jimmy Musgrove, at 25 September, 2005 02:39  

  • Great articles, thanks.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 September, 2005 08:48  

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