ROBOBLOG III Archives

10.01.2005

Here There Be Spoilers ...

So I got to read through the first issue of Prelude to Shadow Chronicles today, and I found it actually really damn cool. We'll go all in-depth around this time next week, but I've got some observations I'd like to share right now.

First, though, in lieu of spoiler space, I'm going to lend some advice to my fellow Robotech fans. Silly advice, but useful if you get in a completist collecting mood like I sometimes do. About a week ago, I saw an auction for Matchbox's Dana Sterling doll and the Hovercycle scaled to the 12" doll line. I thought, "Hey, that's cool," and put in a bid for it. However, the 12" Dana comes in a party dress. Naturally, if she's going out riding on the Hovercycle, I figured she needed her uniform. It was sold seperately. So I snagged one of those. The whole kit-n-kaboodle came in today. The Hovercycle is quite snazzy, and its rider arrived in good shape. But her uniform ...

Unfortunately, whatever shiny material is covering the fabric on the Southern Cross uniform has not aged well. It's gotten all sticky, has peeled off onto the twenty year-old tape that was used to package the outfit, cracked badly where it has stayed attached to the fabric (which otherwise is VERY see-thru), and got all over my hands, making them very sticky, too. It didn't help matters that the uniform boots are typical Barbie-style doll boots of the era, a pain in the butt to get onto the doll under the best of conditions. If you find yourself tempted by the Hovercycle and want to get a rider for it, I'd suggest going with the Harmony Gold release of the Dana doll, which comes wearing the Southern Cross uniform. Don't fall into this trap. I figured, "Oh, the Harmony Gold action figures are lower quality, so the doll probably is, too, so I should get this version ..." Uh-uh. Don't let this happen to you. From afar the end result doesn't look too bad, but poor Dana's uniform doesn't hold up to scrutiny well. She'd better not let Nova or Marie see her like this, or she'll never hear the end of it ...

Anyway, on to the Prelude first issue ...

The entire first issue is essentially all hell breaking loose in the aftermath of the trial. Despite the order of events in the Sentinels series, it looks like Edwards is unleashing them for the first time here. They all seem to be red rather than the blue of the animation.

When Rick and Jean discover Kyle's dead body -- we do see his face, and he looks more or less as he did in the last issue of Sentinels -- Rick realizes that Minmei had to be around, too. While we never see her (I looked, though I guess it's possible I missed her -- I was in kind of a hurry), it is made pretty clear that she's Edwards' prisoner now.

Lisa is not wearing Haydonite disc armor. In fact, nobody short of Rick & Jean is. Kinda odd. Makes me wonder where they were right before arriving on the scene. Also, unlike the Sentinels novels and comics, her SDF-3 bridge crew is not entirely male; there is one girl serving right by Lisa's side. Unlike Rick, I honestly think Lisa does look like herself, despite the change in hairstyle to a more pulled-back, older look.

Jack Baker is apparently the new leader of Wolf Squadron; I wonder if this is Colonel Wolfe's old group, and if so, I wonder if he'll be mentioned at all during the course of the series. In any case, Jack gets an action sequence here. It really is pretty cool; following some heated mechanized action, he rescues an ejected wingman and is forced to break off his pursuit of Edwards to save his subordinate. Karen Penn does not appear at all; knowing her, she's probably got her own squadron as well. But she's not even mentioned, which makes me wonder if she'll even make a minor appearance. My hope for her is that she turns up as the leader of the Skull Squadron later in the series, with Max & Miriya having retired to focus on raising their second daughter.

Amusingly, though, when Jack's team rushes into battle, there are Alphas distinctively done up in Max & Miriya colors -- their precise shades of blue and red -- to his right. Okay, so maybe they ARE still up and fighting ...

An Invid warship from Sentinels appears here, and the Regent is mentioned immediately, despite not appearing in person (though again, who knows, I might have missed him). Apparently he decided to bail Edwards out in the end after all. What a swell guy he is. I hope Edwards doesn't reward him for his loyalty by stabbing him in the back ...

While Dr. Lang and Janice (just as Shane told me, she looks like a cross between Sentinels Janice and the Shadow Chronicles Janice we've been seeing) are trying to figure out something regarding the equipment Edwards was using -- I figured he was talking about the Invid Brain, though the issue of Shadow devices does come up -- Lang mentions Lazlo Zand. I seriously wasn't expecting that. For those who don't remember, Zand was the creepy Robotech scientist from the novels who did all sorts of unethical experiments on Dana Sterling during the years of the Malcontent Uprisings and basically took Dr. Lang's spot in the corrupt Southern Cross regime. (See The Masters' Gambit and the three Robotech Masters novels.) At the end of the Masters adaptation novels he was turned into a giant Flower of Life for being such a grandiose delusional nutjob creep.

There is a creepy balding scientist hanging around the two who almost looks like a Robotech Master. I kept wondering if he was supposed to be a redesigned character I should recognize. I wasn't reading that closely, and kept thinking it might be Exedore, but instead of double-checking the dialogue to see this was the case, I kept on going. Hey, I'll have plenty of time to read it next week.

The Sentinels aliens do appear for a major scene towards the end. The Haydonites have been radically redesigned; they have hoods now obscuring their heads. The Karbarrans also have been redesigned, looking much less bear-like and cutesy. They've got longer muzzles. They also still have those fantastic shipyards; they promise aid to the Expeditionary Force in the aftermath of Edwards' escape and the near-destruction of the SDF-3. Perytonians and Sphersians didn't get much of a change in appearance. I don't recall seeing any Praxians, and I think the Garudans were there, but I don't remember what if any changes they got. L'Ron and Veidt are mentioned by name. When the Sentinels alliance is discussed, it sounds like they saved their own butts from the Invid instead of leaning strongly on help from the Expeditionary Force. Very, very interesting change.

The big event of the issue is a giant melodramatic bit where, with the SDF-3 trashed, Lisa is seriously wounded. Rick is assured that she's OK, and then off to the side mentions that she had been planning on retiring after their baby was born. He is then told that the baby is dead. Rick promptly breaks down.

The issue jumps ahead one year for the epilogue. Rick's hair is all gray all of a sudden, and Vince is given an upgraded Tokugawa (the same model of ship John Carpenter used in the Robotech Masters episode "Outsiders") to finally pick up the pursuit of T.R. Edwards. Meanwhile, the SDF-3 is nearly reconstructed at this point, so we'll probably see it unveiled at the end of the next issue. As I figured, Lisa has probably resigned her commission, leaving Rick in charge and completing his development into the figure Scott Bernard is looking up to throughout New Gen. I assume all the worry associated with the near-destruction of the SDF-3 is what turned his hair gray, while all the crap Edwards has pulled (kidnapping Minmei, killing Kyle, nearly killing Lisa and killing their unborn child) is what hardens Rick into the sort of person who would even consent to the development of the Neutron-S missiles and then accept a contingency plan that would involve them being used to wipe out planet Earth in the event of a possible Invid victory.

All in all, an extremely satisfying chunk of story, well worth the increased price tag ($3.50 U.S.). A comprehensive annotation will come next week when it is properly released and my own copy is in my hands.

Those of you who've also read it ... anything major I've missed here?

5 Comments:

  • I can add a couple of things to Jonathan's summary.

    That creepy balding scientist with Lang most likely is Exedore. While he's not mentioned by name, his look is just too close to Exedore's to not be him.

    The big, overall issue with Edwards has to do with the fact that he's using a crazy new "Shadow Technology" that allows him to go undetected. The Robotech gang believe that he's gotten this technology with the help of the Invid, and they need to reverse engineer it immediately to have any hope in beating him.

    The inorganics: from what I could tell, they do seem to be purple in color in some panels, but they have a few more glowing red parts.

    Minmei- she's in the book, but only seen from the back or from a distance. This leads to an interesting question: are they intentionally not featuring some characters, or is it all a coincidence?

    And in a related question, are there rights issues with character designs? For example, all of the Macross characters (Rick, Lisa, Minmei, Kyle, and possibly Exedore) look different enough from their original appearances that some might not even recognize them. Now part of that comes from the fact that the artist's style isn't always very "manga-like." This is most prevalent in his noses- they tend to be very angular and bit too defined. But this is all speculation. We may never know the real answer.

    Finally, while I agree with Jonathan on the quality and story of the book (I like it), I think this is a story that only longtime fans can really appreciate. There's a lot of history and things going on that the average reader just wouldn't get. Not that I'm complaining because I've been looking forward to this story since the Waltrips were forced to stop so many years ago. but it's not all that friendly to new readers..and sometimes not all that friendly to average Robotech fans.

    I think that, more than other mini-series, this book would have benefited from a zero issue. Something that could have summarized the Sentinels storyline- while updating continuity at the same time. It's kinda odd how the new comic isn't quite a continuation of the Sentinels, but instead cherry picks elements here and there. It's a strange amalgamation of multiple sources.

    I think that covers what I can add to the conversation. I look forward to others getting a chance to read and comment on this!

    -shane

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 01 October, 2005 09:03  

  • Even though I live and die by the novels, I think I'm gonna like this a lot. All the retconning HG does lately seems to work really well, maybe because they're looking specifically to create a coherent continuity from all the various RT sources. I can't wait until Wednesday....

    By Blogger b4bobb, at 01 October, 2005 12:11  

  • Whoo-hoo! I just got issue #1!!! I had to answer a trivia question at the Robotech panel at Ani-Magic last night to get it, and it was well worth it.

    But my first impression of the issue, other than it was pretty good, was that the story should have decided if it was going to be a sequel to the comics or a new story. Some elements, like the the Haydonite suits and the murder of Lynn Kyle, were taken DIRECTLY from the last issue of The Sentinels, while other elements were comepletely dropped.

    I guess as a total Robotech comics fanboy I would have preferred the story taking place directly after The Sentinels campaign. I understand for new readers it wouldn't make sense to pick up in the middle of the campaign, but to drop it completely from the storyline the way they did, it doesn't exactly "jive" with the Sentinels series 100%.

    I would have been happier had they allowed things like Sentinels campaign and Tesla's transformatoin to become a moot point, allowing the reader to make those instances as "cannon" as they choose in their own mind. Instead, we're given the impression that it never happened. Just the fact that the Sentinels suddenly appear at the council like they have nothing better to do is a sign of that.

    But overall, I got a read a new Waltrips Robotech comic for the first time in 9 years! That's one of those "let's please the long time fans" things that HG did right! That I am more than grateful for.

    Oh, and someone made a point to be about the 3000 issues printed, that probably means less were actually shipped, and less than that were actually bought. So, besides those who illegally download the issues from bit torrent sites, meeting someone who has read the entire run will be a pretty rare things in this world.

    By Anonymous Darkwater, at 02 October, 2005 11:31  

  • What question did you have to answer, Darkwater? I recall the trivia questions at AX were all fairly easy, at least for me. After I got my Wolfe cel for the first one, I was muttering answers to the rest under my breath and getting almost all of them right ...

    Regarding the Sentinels themselves ... the impression I got was that the Sentinels campaign happened, but with far less Expeditionary Force involvement, if any at all. What also struck me as odd was the way some races got radical makeovers -- like the Karbarrans and the Haydonites -- while others remained remarkably faithful to the original designs. (I'm looking at YOU, Perytonian-guy-who-might-be-Burak.) My big question regarding the token Sentinels appearance is whether it'll be important later in the series or whether it's just another Robotech II: The Sentinels fanboy moment in a book that seems to be OVERFLOWING with Robotech II: The Sentinels fanboy moments.

    Oh, and when you're checking off events lifted directly from the old comics, don't forget Edwards' escape along with the Invid Brain! ^_^

    Since the Regent seems poised for an appearance in the next issue (he IS on the cover, after all), I'm curious as to whether Tesla will make an appearance or if his subplot HAS, in fact, been dropped. Hm.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 02 October, 2005 16:03  

  • One fantastic thing mentioned is that Vince Grant is taking along Breetai's Zentradi warriors in the hunt to find Edwards. I hope we see breetai himself!!

    I kind of hope that they don't kill Breetai and keep him around, although they did kill Kyle rather unceremoniously at the beginning of this (yes I know they pretty much had to, considering they were taking right off of the last Sentinels comic), so who knows!
    Overall, I really like this series. It is about as 'fanboy' as you can get. There is a Praxian in the Sentinels bit, btw. She's right in the middle.

    What I also like is the final "official" explaining of various questions that have been debated for years, such as the Kabarrans and their ship yards providing the REF with a whole new fleet of ships, and why Shadow Fighters only showed up at the end of the war.

    I like the new looks of the Rick and Lisa. In some of the more "emotive" scenes (I don't ahve the comic in front of me now, or else I would find the page and panel), he certainly looks a lot like the rick of old. Also, Lisa with her hair down looks much more like our classic lisa.


    I think this is the resolution to the Sentinels that fans have been waiting over a decade for. It is a very nice complement the soon to be released feature that we have been awating TWO decades for!

    -Gerwalk

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 06 October, 2005 10:41  

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