Prelude to the Shadow Chronciles #1 Annotations
"In 2022, an Expeditionary Force departed from Earth on a mission to intercept these threats at their source in deep space. After decades of struggle, this Pioneer Expedition led by Admiral Rick Hunter would reach an uneasy peace at the Robotech Masters' homeworld of Tirol, leaving only the threat of the mysterious Invid race. However, they would soon discover that the greatest danger lies within ..."
While early issues of the Sentinels comic book series suggest that the story begins in 2022, as the TV series was intended to (see Robotech Art 3), later writing by the Waltrips (Sentinels Bk. IV #0) suggest that the comic book series was following Jack McKinney's interpretation of The Sentinels to the letter, beginning with a departure in 2020, with the SDF-3's hyperspace fold jump taking five years and depositing them in Tirolspace in 2025.
The phrase "decades of struggle" can only refer to two decades at the most. The Robotech TV series timeline, according to Harmony Gold at this point in time, ends at 2044. One year passes from page 19 to page 20, so let's say the absolute latest that we could be starting is early 2043 -- and that's assuming no more leaps from here 'til the end of issue #5, which is probably a poor assumption.
Pioneer Expedition -- a direct reference to a turn of phrase used in the Robotech TV episode "Outsiders," though that episode's returning Major John Carpenter referred to General Reinhardt as his commanding officer back in deep space. That episode takes place in 2029, at which time Rick & Lisa Hunter may very well have been busy elsewhere -- an abbreviated involvement with the Sentinels campaign, perhaps?
In any case, Yune & the Waltrips are deliberately vague on how long the Expeditionary Force has been on Tirol and what they've been up to all this while, in case the Sentinels scenario is ever revisited. The image presented does suggest, however, that the SDF-3 alone arrived on Tirol during a state of Invid occupation and routed them out.
In fact, the art suggests that the SDF-3 has arrived during a moment of heated battle on Tirol. I suppose we can assume this is just visual shorthand, because both the Sentinels video and the comics show us a Tirol that is already occupied, sans resistance, by the Invid. (See panel from Book I #2, the Invid Odeons ushering the Tiresian citizens into internment camps.) Pay attention to the panel below it, from Book I #8, where an SDF-3 bridge officer's assessment of the state of the shuttle carrying Minmei & Janice is interrupted by the approach of Invid mecha from Tirol. The SDF-3 has just arrived over Tirol -- notice I also have provided a shot of the ship in hyperspace from the same issue.
The ships flying overhead are Garfish-class cruisers, as seen in the first episode of the New Generation segment of Robotech. It's described on Robotech.com as the "standard light starship of the later Expeditionary Force." The "later" Expeditionary Force, eh? Well, apparently in 2038 (the setting of the "Invasion" comic book series) they were pretty common, and Robotech.com talks about them being used against the Masters as well, so I don't know how much "later" we're talking about. I also can't remember -- can these things land in atmosphere? They don't seem to have parts to do that -- it would land on those mecha hangars, and looks like it would tip forward if it didn't crush the hangars in the process. So when they're done searching, would they fly up into orbit? Who knows? But that is a neat visual ...
The Tiresian Royal Hall appears in the background -- the design from the animation and not the huge, wide, imposing design from the Sentinels comics.
If you were here for the preview pages, you've seen this all before. If not ...
Flashback. A gavel strikes, referring (presumably) to the trial of Jonathan Wolfe, Vince Grant, and Breetai's Zentraedi where T.R. Edwards was revealed, via videotape recorded by Dr. Emil Lang and his godson Scott Bernard, as a traitor to the Expeditionary Force (Sentinels Book IV #12). Edwards then promptly flees (seen here).
A shot rings out. (Note different model of gun.)
Former singing sensation Lynn Minmei cries out.
A body, clad in a Robotech II: The Sentinels Expeditionary Force uniform, falls to the ground, dead.
These three panels refer to the final events on Tirol of Sentinels Book IV #13. Lynn Kyle came to the rescue of Lynn Minmei, his cousin and former meal ticket, who had been hidden away in the headquarters of power-hungry Expeditionary Force General T.R. Edwards ever since a failed attempt by Kyle (in disguise) to take her offworld in Sentinels Book IV #1 - 3 in a stolen prototype Veritech Fighter. After being revealed as a traitor by Dr. Emil Lang, Edwards returned to his headquarters to pick up Minmei. Having finally deduced Minmei's location, Kyle arrived to confront Edwards and rescue his cousin. Following a climactic struggle in which Kyle managed to clobber Edwards thoroughly, Edwards managed to shoot him dead and make off with Minmei.
When Lynn Kyle was killed in Book IV #13 he was wearing a flightsuit, not a standard uniform.
Expeditionary Force security officers bust down the door of the room where these events played out. Two Expeditionary Force officers stand in the back, clad in Haydonite-crafted light body armor.
The room appears to be the Expeditionary Force ruling council chamber. The trial did not occur here, because Breetai -- returned to full Zentraedi stature in Sentinels Book II #5 -- was on trial and had to be present. Nor did Kyle and Edwards' confrontation take place here, as Minmei was in a cell beneath Edwards' headquarters. Furthermore, the confrontation as presented in Sentinels Book IV #13 had two more casualties -- Lt. Rebecca Nicks, a character added to the regular cast in Sentinels Book III #1 following a "create a Robotech character" contest, and one of T.R. Edwards' men, Adams.
There is a *thing* on the floor that artist Omar Dogan drew in, right below the soldier next to Dr. Jean Grant, that I'm probably overanalyzing, but could be part of T.R. Edwards' broken old cowl. (It was present in the preview available on the DC Comics website as well.)
The two Expeditionary Force officers in the back wearing the Haydonite light body armor are Rick Hunter (last seen aboard the Ark Angel in Spheris orbit in Sentinels Bk IV #12) and Dr. Jean Grant (last seen on Haydon IV in Sentinels Bk. IV #9). Rick Hunter was last seen in this very uniform; the only major detail artist Omar Dogan goofed on was the line across the torso. There are also supposed to be black rectangles on the back of the forearm and the back of the hand, and straight lines are supposed to go down each arm, down each leg, and right down the middle of the body. (These details are actually fixed by page 15. Check it out!) This armor was given to the members of the Sentinels in Sentinels Bk. IV #9 as a reward by the grateful Haydon Prince Administrator Vowad for acting as the catalyst for the planet's liberation from Invid occupation.
Dr. Jean Grant was never seen wearing the Haydonite body armor in the Sentinels comic book series. However, Max and Miriya Sterling are seen wearing the discs that activate the body armor on their uniforms when they part company from the Sentinels in Bk. IV #9, suggesting that not just the characters seen in the armor for the rest of the series received it -- rather, all the Sentinels main cast probably did. By the way, as I point out here, the shoulder pads on Jean's Haydonite armor are purple in the finished comic where they were red in the preview available on the DC Comics website -- Rick and Lisa are the only two who appeared in color art in these uniforms, and being main characters, they both got the red trim, which is supposed to match the coloration on their regular uniforms.
As an aside, since the Haydonite armors are supposed to be based upon the outfit the person is wearing it on top of, do you think that means that when Rick and Jean power down their Haydonite armor discs they're wearing their Robotech II: The Sentinels uniforms? Hmmmm ...
"That's odd," Rick says as he looks at the unidentified dead body before him (Lynn Kyle). "He's wearing a Ghost Squadron uniform. Why would Edwards kill one of his own men?" Unlike every other Expeditionary Force character short of Rick and Jean, Lynn Kyle is wearing an Expeditionary Force uniform from Robotech II: The Sentinels. Rick's remarks place the largely lambasted Sentinels uniform design in the current continuity.
However, I betcha the Waltrips intended to have it be the Sentinels flightsuit. Any time you see Ghost Squadron pilots in the Sentinels comics, they're wearing their flightsuits, no matter the function they're serving.
"General T.R. Edwards is wanted for conspiracy to commit treason against the Robotech Expeditionary Force. By order of the Expeditionary council, arrest General Edwards at once!"
The conspiracy charge suggests that events played awfully close to the events of Sentinels Book IV #12, in which Dr. Emil Lang played the following remarks by T.R. Edwards for the Expeditionary Force ruling council:
"Here's the oath I'll serve! I swear to exterminate Rick and Lisa Hunter, and Breetai, after I've mad them suffer enough! The rest of you 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!"
Cyclone-mounted troops ride through the streets of Tiresia. Cyclones are commonplace in 2038 as emergency vehicles, according to the previous comic book series, "Invasion." Scott Bernard says, however, in Robotech episode #61, "The Invid Invasion" (currently set in the year 2042 according to Robotech.com) that his model at least is a "new" emergency vehicle. The Cyclones here appear to be roughly the same model -- they're equipped with the blaster that Rand's, which short of the weapons outfit is identical to Scott's, has. Note that in the old Sentinels comics timeline these events would be taking place in 2027 and the timeline the Waltrips were holding to (a modified version of the one used by Jack McKinney's Robotech novels) would have had Cyclones introduced three years later, in 2030.
As I've pointed out before, the first shot of Edwards is -- short of Edwards' expression -- strikingly similar to the cover of Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #12. Maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, but I find this interesting.
T.R. Edwards activates the Invid Brain. He did this in Sentinels Bk IV #12 with the exact same results. This Invid Brain is the same one he made sure to recover ahead of Jonathan Wolfe in Sentinels Bk. I #16, ending the Expeditionary Force's battle for Tirol. (The combatants left behind by the Invid on the surface of Tirol were all Inorganics, robots controlled by the Invid Brain.) The brain appears smaller here than in its appearances in the Sentinels comics.
(See the Invid Regent in the first panel from Sentinels Book IV #12? We'll get back to him later ...)
The controls for the Brain are obviously different here. I've done you the service of circling them sloppily with the paint tool in Photoshop. If I had the room, I'd have also shown you the panel in Sentinels Bk. IV #12 of the Brain making similar sounds to those it makes in Prelude #1, reacting to Edwards playing with the controls. Both now and then, the Brain goes "blub" ...
As a side note, I wonder what became of loyal Benson, Edwards' aide since Sentinels Book I #2 (the blonde fellow in the two panels from Book IV #12).
If the fight with Lynn Kyle occurred as it did in Sentinels Bk. IV #13, Edwards should have some bruises on his face. (See panel from Book IV #13.) His Sentinels faceplate was destroyed in that fight; that would serve to explain why he's wearing a new, more form-fitting one here.
Like the Haydonite light armor that Rick and Jean are wearing, Kyle's appearance is *almost* perfect to the Sentinels comic book art. His facial hair in the Sentinels comics ran down his sideburns to his beard, but otherwise, this appears to be the same Lynn Kyle who gave Minmei one last good-bye kiss before breathing his last breath. Notice in the sequence from Book IV #13 the way Kyle pulls off the helmet in a "big reveal" moment. This is why he's supposed to be wearing a flight uniform -- it makes the helmet a little less conspicuous ...
"What's he doing here on Tirol?"
The addition of a benevolent stalker-like Lynn Kyle, who anticipated that Minmei would follow her military friends into space, was one of Jack McKinney's more obvious major alterations to the Sentinels story. (Carl Macek wrote in Robotech Art 3 that Lynn Kyle's story would not be picked up in The Sentinels.) Kyle made his first appearance in the Sentinels comic book series in Sentinels Bk. II #3 (seen here).
By the way, notice the RDF wing insignia on Kyle's outfit in the Book II #3 shot. You used to find those all over the place in the comics, and it used to really bug me. Now I find myself missing the old thing. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I guess.
"Wait. If he's here, that means Minmei was here."
Rick jumps to conclusions, in a moment that recalls the original Robotech TV series at its worst ...
"Unit 5 to base, we're at Edwards' compound. No sign of --"
It was established that, during the reconstruction of Tiresia, T.R. Edwards acquired a personal command center -- I believe it first appeared in Sentinels Bk. II #17. It was depicted as a much larger building with a body that would appear circular from above, with a number of angled-out "spokes." The base has several vehicle entrances and a great deal of garage space for mecha and other craft to come and go, or launch for patrol and battle. While this may have been intended as the Expeditionary Force's command center on Tirol, with the Hunters absent and the ruling council blind to Edwards' ambition, it might as well have been his -- one look at his personal office would certainly give this impression. The building shown in Prelude #1, while far larger than the native structures, does not give off this sense of opulence and grandeur.
Just as Edwards activated the Brain again, so do are the Inorganics unleashed again. Only Scrimms and Cranns are seen -- no Hellcats or Odeons, the two models that actually appeared in the Sentinels animation. While previously they spilled forth from the base of the Tiresian Royal Hall pyramid, now they tear forth from the ground ... which, honestly, doesn't make much sense. Who put them there?
Do note that the Inorganics that appeared here are colored gray with red accents. In their sole canonical appearance, in the Sentinels video, all the Inorganics are blue. As I've noted before, notice that these are the very same colors that *everything* presented as lineart in Robotech Art 3 is -- they allow some green, blue, and yellow on the pages on the Flower of Life, but as far as mecha and character lineart goes, everything winds up gray with red accents. In fact, look carefully at which parts are red in Prelude #1 -- especially the Crann, the one with the whip-tongue thing going on and the two sensor eyes -- and you'll see that the colorist was probably working from the Art 3 lineart. (The Crann and Scrim tend to be colored red on the Sentinels comic covers, but due to the inconsistency of coloring that goes on with the Sentinels comic covers, this doesn't mean much.)
Notice that the Cranns all have blasters on their left arms. Despite the absence of anything that appears to be a long-range energy weapon on the Inorganic, McKinney describes Cranns specifically as firing on the Sentinels in "Death Dance" and "World Killers" (it is a Crann that fires the blast that kills the Haydonite Sarna in the latter book), and the Waltrips as early as Sentinels Book II gave them what appear to be hand-held cannons. According to the Sentinels Role Playing Game manual, these are hand-held weapons designed for the Odeon. On the two-page spread that ends Book IV #12, all three models of Inorganic are seen wielding these guns. Dogan's art suggests that he has decided they are built-in and exclusive to the Crann.
Also notice that the REF personnel in Sentinels Book IV #12 are using Southern Cross era hovercycles, not Cyclones. See previous note regarding the use of Cyclones.
"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's dialogue seeks to create a context for Edwards making his move. However, it bears little resemblance to what was going on in the Sentinels comics while he was away. (And based on his and Jean's wardrobe, as well as the way he tries to summarize the situation, I get the impression that he HAS been away for a while, even in the revised continuity.) Edwards' plan all along according to the Sentinels comics and novels was to use the resources available in Tirolspace to build himself a fleet that he and his loyal men would crew. (We'll get to an example of that particular nugget in a moment.) He and his forces would then space fold back to Earth and hold the planet Earth hostage in a scenario strongly reminiscent of Dolza's assault on the Earth at the climax of the First Robotech War. There was not much about "captured alien technology" going on beyond looking after the Invid Brain and the Inorganics, which he obviously hadn't thought much about until he got desperate.
Regarding Jean's remarks about the disagreements between Edwards and the council ... look, I've provided some examples of him clashing with the council over some major issues. One also, were I to include the next panel, would illustrate his animosity towards Dr. Lang -- but then, if I really wanted to do that, all I would have to do is post the entirety of Sentinels Book IV #11 ...
pages 6 & 7
"Impossible!" Jean shouts. "Those new experimental battlecruisers aren't finished yet!"
The new starship bursts free from Edwards' command center. Like the Inorganics bursting out from the ground around Edwards' compound, I really should take issue with the notion of a full-size warship bursting through Edwards' compound. Then again, wouldn't the Tiresian catacombs be a wonderful place to hide any little projects you didn't want anyone to know about, especially if you're a xenophobic monster who doesn't care what happens to anyone else like T.R. Edwards?
The production of new battlecruisers was a major priority for Edwards, as you can see here in this panel from Sentinels Book III #10. See my remarks on his plan above to see why.
Oh, and this panel is the first one where you can really see Rick's temples graying.
As I remarked before, the ship Edwards escapes in *appears* to be a vessel from the upcoming Shadow Chronicles animation. (Note the structural similarities I have marked -- and trust me on the bit behind the sound effect, or just dig back and look at the original chart from the preview.) The filename on the outline that appears on Robotech.com is "Shimakaze," the name of a prototype Japanese naval vessel from World War II. I highly doubt this will be the name of the vessel in the animation.
Oh, and you can see a second moon of Fantoma right by that big red circle I marked #2. At least one more appears in an establishing shot in Sentinels Bk. IV #9 (not pictured). If you read the Zor Prime mock-up profile pages that I posted a few weeks ago, I claimed that Tirol was Fantoma's only moon. Apparently I had totally forgotten the Zentraedi exclamation, "Moons of Fantoma!" Just goes to show, nobody's infallible.
"Get Commander Grant on the comm! Have him meet us at the landing field. And notify the SDF-3 in orbit. Tell them to scramble their Veritechs to intercept!"
Vince was last seen on Haydon IV in Sentinels Bk. IV #9, staying behind with his wife Dr. Jean Grant, who was looking after pregnant Miriya.
The SDF-3 has been in Fantoma's orbit, undergoing repairs on its damaged fold and communications systems, since shortly after its arrival in Tirolspace -- the Invid damaged the ship pretty severely during their first engagement, a fair foreshadowing of the Invid's major victories against Expeditionary Force capital ships over planet Earth. However, last we saw it the ship was commanded by Captain Raul Forsythe, who took command over from Lisa Hayes Hunter in Sentinels Book II #6.
"You'll never get away with this, Edwards! Rick will shoot you out of the sky!"
You know, if the Sentinels animation had gone ahead, I could see a toy commercial with this very same exchange between action figure Minmei and action figure Edwards. Then a big plastic Alpha Fighter piloted by action figure Rick would swoop down and knock action figure Edwards over. "Robotech to the rescue!" indeed ...
Oh, and notice that Minmei isn't shown from the front. This holds true for the whole issue, and we'll get back to this fact very shortly.
"With you on board? You two must have had quite a falling out."
Edwards, on the other hand, sounds just right. He then goes on to say, "In any case, he can't shoot what he can't see," which is the first suggestion that Edwards has a trick up his sleeve.
"I've mobilized all ground units," Vince Grant says. "They've got the Inorganics contained." That was quick. In Sentinels Book IV #13, there is a two page spread of VF-1 Veritechs, Hovertanks, and Sentinels-era Destroids battling hordes of Inorganics in the streets of Tiresia with the following caption: "The REF had put so much time into rebuilding Tiresia after expelling the Invid from the planet. It was surprising how quickly they could tear it apart. Poor Tiresia was being razed again in a grotesque replay of the liberation. History repeats itself." Obviously the REF in Prelude #1 is much more on the ball than the one in the Waltrips' earlier Sentinels work ...
"We only have visual," Vince says of Edwards' ship. "It's not showing up on our scanners." It's interesting that while Jean and the other officers keep on calling Rick "Admiral," Vince just calls him "Rick" -- while it never really came off in any of the finished work, both the animation and the McKinney novels suggest that Vince was supposed to be Rick's right hand man. McKinney writes in "The Devil's Hand," "Technically, he was Rick's adjutant, a commander ..." Robotech Art III adds that, "Vince is one of Rick Hunter's close friends," though honestly, it never comes off -- McKinney could be accused of the exact opposite of what Macek accused the Japanese animators responsible for the Sentinels animation of. McKinney spent too much energy on the returning Macross characters at the expense of the newer cast members, especially Vince and Jean Grant. Harmony Gold has been more than making up for it these past few years with the current comic book projects, injecting Vince into not only the events on Macross Island prior to the launch of the SDF-1, but adding him to the cast aboard the SDF-1 during the Macross series, as seen in the image from "Love & War" above. (Right now all I can find is that he, according to McKinney, commanded a Destroid squadron at New Macross prior to the Pioneer mission -- this is according to "The Devil's Hand," and his invite to Claudia for Christmas dinner according to "Doomsday" corroborates this. Did McKinney ever say where he was before that?)
Oh, and based on Vince's words, guess what sort of technology Edwards has and the rest of the Expeditionary Force doesn't. (This is apparently what Rick was referring to when he said that Edwards has had access to "captured alien technology for years" that he wasn't giving Lang access to, and it comes off like some sort of Sentinels subplot we were never privy to.)
Rick, Vince, and Jean are aboard a Tokugawa-class vessel, the same class of ship that Major John Carpenter took back to Earth in "Outsiders."
Notice that the bridge officer to Lisa's right is female. As McKinney writes in "The Devil's Hand": "Of course, there were some changes that had to be allowed... The crew, for example: they were all men." Apparently no longer.
But that's not the only change to Lisa's bridge as we'll soon see.
This is the first really good look we've gotten of the SDF-3, which is dead-on to the classic Sentinels design and most resembles its animation counterpart in coloration -- sort of radish colored.
"This is Wolf Leader," Jack Baker says as he leads the Veritechs to intercept Edwards' ship. "We have visual contact of the bogey." Lisa tells him to try and force the ship down but not destroy it, showing a lot more concern for Rick's ex-girlfriend than he was. Jack Baker, by the way, was last seen aboard a Haydonite craft hovering over Spheris alongside the evolved Invid scientist Tesla, who was trying to control the Invid troops on Spheris' surface and was doing a poor job of it. This was in the B-plot in Sentinels Bk. IV #13. The cliffhanger was that some of the Invid that Tesla failed to control blasted the Haydonite craft and were on the verge of shooting it down. I guess it's safe to ignore that bit ...
I'm not sure which angle they're trying to play the Wolf Squadron reference from. Is this a reference to Jonathan Wolfe, who should be on his way back to Earth by now? (Remember, "Love & War" established him as a Veritech Fighter pilot -- more fitting with his appearance in the TV episode "Eulogy" -- so I doubt he'd be a Hovertank team leader in the revised continuity.) Or is this a cheeky reference to another Jack, last name of Archer, who led Wolf Squadron during the First Robotech War and in the years following as chronicled in the "Battlecry" video game?
This panel's linework is noticably thicker than the rest. The panel was cropped late in the day to obscure Minmei in the background, to give the creative team more time to come up with a new character design for her -- obviously not someone who's going to get to join the Shadow Chronicles crew in their first outing.
I wonder ... Jack's wingman is named Daryl Tailor. There's a character in the Shadow Chronicles cast list currently listed as Commander Taylor (played by Mark Hamill). Same guy, you think?
Our first good look at the redesigned bridge of the SDF-3. The layout has been changed from the comfortingly claustrophobic SDF-1 style seen in the Sentinels comics (and described in the novels) to the expansive "mission control" layout seen aboard the SDF-4 in TV series episodes #84, "Dark Finale," and 85, "Symphony of Light."
An excellent shot of the bridge section of the SDF-3. Seems like a happy medium between the details seen in the Sentinels comics and the animation.
An Invid carrier folds in. "It's the Regent!" Lisa calls out. The Invid carrier annihilates the SDF-3's reflex cannon. It attacks the SDF-3 with cannons from the two claws, destroying the reflex cannon. The only cannon the Invid carrier used in the animation is the main gun, on the middle "head" section, though the Role Playing Game manual says there are secondary assault lasers in each of the claws.
The last time we saw the Regent, in Sentinels Bk. IV #12, the following dialogue was had between him and Edwards:
Edwards - 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.
Regent - 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 - Of course! The Brain! I should've known all along!
Regent - Do stay in touch.
Apparently the Regent rethought his decision.
As Rick sits at Lisa's bedside, Vince gives him a full report on the state of the SDF-3, but Rick doesn't seem to really care right now. We assume it's because he's much more concerned about his wife, but maybe it's also because he's heard it all before -- check out this scene from Sentinels Book I #10, immediately following the Invid's first assault on the SDF-3 over Tirol.
Dr. Lang's dialogue again is written out in the German accented speech patterns heard in the show. This is annoying. I was able to add the accent in my head for seventy-five issues of the Sentinels comic series, thirty-seven issues of Return to Macross, and at least seven Robotech novels. I don't need it spelled out for me now.
Lang, Janice, and a bald fellow who sort of looks like Exedore are trying to recover data from General Edwards' files in his burned-out command center. Janice's look is largely remeniscent of her Sentinels character design, but it has the gleaming red eyes of her Shadow Chronicles look. Janice indicates that the Shadow technology was developed with some assistance by the Invid, but says that with the data in its current state, she can't assist in reproducing it.
Janice was revealed to be an android to her allies in Sentinels Bk. IV #4 with minimal fallout.
"Fourth-dimensional reconfiguration? But Dr. Laslo Zand assured me dat his research had proven such a process to be impossible!" Lang says.
"Fourth-dimensional reconfiguration" is a bit of jargon directly from episode #83, "Reflex Point," used by Sue Graham when she's explaining the Shadow Fighters' ability to hide from Invid Protoculture scanners.
As for the man who told Lang it wouldn't work, Dr. Laslo Zand (usually spelled "Lazlo") is a character who emerged from the novels by Jack McKinney, a colleague of Lang's who would always remain the number two Earth-born specialist in Robotechnology. Despite the creepy, hunchbacked rendering of him by John Waltrip in Sentinels Wedding Special #2, he's not supposed to look quite that creepy -- and by the way, until the second issue of this series, that was his only appearance in the Robotech comics, despite being a central figure in the narrative of the novels.
Zand's background is intrinsically tied into the backstory of the exploration of the SDF-1 that was created by Carl Macek and embellished by McKinney. During the initial recon of the SDF-1, Dr. Emil Lang hit a panel he shouldn't have and blacked out. When he awoke, his eyes had turned liquid black (as he appears in the Macross animation) and he found he had a sudden innate understanding of the sciences surrounding Protoculture. While he and Zand might have been closer to equals before, now Lang was far above him. Zand sought to surpass him, so he hobbled together a formula -- a little fluid from a Robotech mecha, a little blood from human-Zentraedi hybrid Dana Sterling -- and injected himself with the Protoculture cocktail. He did this at the suggestion of one T.R. Edwards ...
"I was with him when it happened, Zand. Inside the Visitor. One minute he's touching things on the console in Zor's cabin; the next, he's out like a light. But when he woke up, his neural circuits had been rearranged--just like what happened to one of the recon robots we sent into the ship."
Zand wore a faraway look. "I would give anything ..."
"To take the jolt?" Edwards asked. "So what's stopping you?"
Zand cleared his head with a shake. "For one thing, Mr. Edwards, that console no longer exists."
Edwards snorted, then smiled affably. "There was nothing special about that console. It was just a matter of Lang sticking his finger where it had no place being. Making contact with that impermeable Protoculture of yours. Lang wasn't going for broke, Professor -- it was an accident. But don't tell me there isn't something you guys salvaged from the SDF-1, maybe something right here in the Center, that couldn't produce the same effect."
That was from McKinney's Robotech #19 "The Zentraedi Rebellion." Another bit of Edwards' advice is to join up with Anatole Leonard's Army of the Southern Cross, where he might be more appreciated. He does just that. In the next novel he has a large role in, "The Masters' Gambit," Zand spends a lot of time rifling through the SDF-1's main computer via a holographic simulation of Zor and makes early contact with the Robotech Masters, lending them a hand in return for some knowledge he never quite gets a hold of thanks to the intervention of some hacker kids. In the three Southern Cross novels, he spends a lot of time offing the men under his command, including Dr. Miles Cochran (who I've heard appears in the next issue of Prelude, sign #1 that Zand's chronology here is going to be a little different) -- explaining why you don't see many of the scientists in the Robotech Masters episodes of Robotech more than once -- and ultimately hooks Dana up to a machine in hopes of draining Protoculture-related powers from her, but ultimately the machine malfunctions and transforms him into a giant Flower of Life. Obviously things are going to unfold differently now, but of these things I am reasonably sure:
A) Zand is allied with Edwards and Anatole Leonard (see WildStorm's Robotech #6).
B) Dr. Lang and the Expeditionary Force can't trust a word Zand says.
C) Zand is out of his ever-lovin' mind.
I am curious how he's played in a Robotech universe without the Shapings of the Protoculture, and I also wonder if all this talk of artificially boosting minds is in effect. The artists on the first WildStorm series were careful to draw Lang with the all-black eyes, and I'd like to see if Zand is drawn the same way.
For the record, short of a flashback to Lang's first exposure to the Protoculture, the only time we ever see Lang with the all black eyes in the Sentinels comics is in Sentinels Book IV #11, when Lang is confronted by Edwards and, in a fit of rage, nearly kills him with his Protoculturally-enhanced strength.
The Expeditionary Force's ruling council convenes to discuss the situation with Edwards. Based on their discussion, it's obvious that certain events haven't occurred -- while Edwards has been having secret talks with the Regent much as he did towards the end of Sentinels Book II, the Expeditionary Force hasn't allowed the Regent onboard, as happened in Sentinels Book III #1, for peace talks at Edwards' urging. However, Lang confirms that Edwards' acquisition of the Invid Brain happened more or less as it did in Sentinels Book I #16.
General Reinhardt, the captain of the SDF-4 from the last two episodes of the Robotech TV series, is on the council. He's going to be appearing in Shadow Chronicles, so it makes sense to have him present at the big round table. General Reinhardt is not to be confused with Colonel Reinhardt, the gray-bearded fellow from the Sentinels animation. (The novels treat them as the same person.) Reinhardt remarks that Edwards has always been a xenophobe; an excellent example of this taken to the Nth degree is provided. You can also use that panel to compare the council table design between Sentinels and Prelude.
Rick continues to give Edwards the benefit of the doubt, despite the fact that Edwards' little pact with the Regent nearly killed his wife: "Edwards has never had confidence in this council to manage this mission. He's undermined its efforts from the beginning. He thinks he's the only one who can protect Earth by destroying every potential enemy rather than building alliances." And yet in Sentinels Bk. IV #11, Dr. Lang tells Edwards that he *knows* his goal is to build a fleet to conquer Earth. Is this a less megalomaniacal T.R. Edwards than the one we know from the Sentinels comics and novels, or is Rick being charitable?
Hello, Sentinels. One representative from each of the worlds of the Sentinels is present in the council chambers. Based on what is said and the characters' appearances, it looks like the group includes (from left) Burak, Kami, Veidt, Baldan, and Gnea, with L'ron in back. Of course, Baldan died in Sentinels Bk. III #5, transferring his essence into an egg of sorts that Teal "shaped" into Baldan II, who was just a wee boy when we last saw him. It would have made more sense to have Teal in this lineup. Burak, too, should probably be dead if all the Sentinels' worlds have been liberated -- he would have sacrificed himself to the psionic generator alongside either the Invid scientist Tesla or his brother Juryk to end Peryton's curse.
If I had to guess, I'd say that the more redesigned a Sentinel race is, the more likely you are to see it in Shadow Chronicles. If so, well, Karbarrans and Haydonites it is ...
It is highly ironic that Reinhardt, who boasts of his belief in "scorched earth tactics" in the Robotech TV series, assures the Sentinels that Edwards' betrayal shouldn't be representative of the human race, and that they came to the Southern Cross system to make peace.
Jack Baker assures his wingman that the Sentinels "[have] been fighting the Invid longer than we have. Their homeworlds have just recently been liberated. Their experience and knowledge can come in pretty handy when we take on the Regent again." To me, this sounds like the Sentinels have liberated their homeworlds on their own without any major REF assistance. (And did you notice that Veidt refers to as the REF, despite their insignia saying "United Earth Expeditionary Force"?)
Jean assures Rick that Lisa is going to recover. However, as Rick remarks that he was looking forward to Lisa resigning her commission due to her pregnancy, Jean tells Rick that she lost the baby. Rick Hunter's life stinks. However, nice way to segue from Lisa outranking Rick to Rick finally becoming this legendary "Admiral Hunter" that Scott Bernard and company yammer on and on about in the New Generation episodes of Robotech.
pages 20 & 21
One year later, a gray-haired Rick Hunter gives Vince a refitted Tokugawa to pursue T.R. Edwards. In another parallel to Sentinels Book I, Vince is being given command of Breetai's Zentraedi warriors to bring the fight to the enemy. (See Sentinels Book I #10.) Once the SDF-3 is rebuilt -- thanks to the Karbarrans and their shipbuilding skill, always useful -- it will follow behind and back him up.
Blurry in the background, behind the refitted Tokugawa, you can see the completely refashioned SDF-3, as seen on the cover of this issue.
Looking at the lineup of REF officers of all shapes and sizes lined up on these two pages, I'm curious whether I should be recognizing anyone. I've been told Karen Penn actually appears as a command officer in Prelude #2 -- is she the blonde on page 20 in the more command-styled uniform?
OPTERA OR BUST!
End of Issue 1 ...
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments.