Prelude to the Shadow Chronciles #3 Annotations
See the South Park eyes and the sweatdrop on the two officers in the background? This sort of comedic license occurred with frequent regularity in Sentinels under Mason, Ulm, and the Waltrips, starting in Sentinels Book Two. Two prime examples are provided. Yes, it's starting to feel a lot like classic Sentinels again, which underscores the irritating disconnect in that scene last issue where the Regent, standing on his bridge, had to be told it was being stormed by Zentraedi soldiers, and yet the obvious humor of the scene was lessened by the serious on-model artwork. Talk about your missed opportunities. I wonder if what we see here is Dogan getting comfortable with the scripts, or rather, if it's the Waltrips who are just starting to get comfortable -- after all, I hear there are sweatdrops to be found in issue #4 ...
Rough storytelling, as I point out in the diagram of this page. Note all the jumps without proper establishing shots and the way we never see these escape pods and ships fleeing the hangar -- in fact, the first time we see any other ship besides the Tokugawa, it has already left the hangar and due to the perspective doesn't look small enough to have been inside the Tokugawa's hangar. As I've said before, it's like those old dubs of anime shows where the dialogue mentions escape pods and parachutes when the animation itself clearly shows no survivors.
The root of the problem, I think, is the rushed pacing of the book. Five issues to cap off Sentinels and get things in place for Shadow Chronicles doesn't seem like quite enough.
The Expeditionary Force fire control officers, after hosing off Vince's overheated Cyclone, also get sweatdrops as Jean berates Vince for that darned fool stunt.
Vince is wearing a white uniform. Next time we see him he won't be, even though he'll have no time for a change of clothes. Whoops.
The SDF-3 is en route to Space Station Liberty. Just as Jean yelled at Vince for staying on the bridge 'til his ship's end, Rick tells Lisa she should have stayed behind on Tirol. However, she has this need to feel useful again -- looking at those leg braces she's got on, I wouldn't blame her. Rick tells her that the doctors say she'll be able to walk again soon, but since she's shown up in no cast lists for the current Shadow Chronicles animation, I have my doubts.
In the panel above Rick tells Lisa, "You've pulled through worse things, at Alaska Base." I've provided scans of the comic adaptation of the worst part of that incident for Lisa, but the more important reference to that event for our purposes comes from Jack McKinney's Sentinels Book 5: Rubicon:
Rick went to Lisa's side and helped her up. "Why, Edwards? What's it all been about? Is it Fokker? I mean, Roy told me you were a fascist from way back when--all your Neasian merc work. You wanted an army of automatons, is that it? And you saw your chance with the Invid. So why single us out?"
Edwards readjusted his headband. A look of misgiving swept across his face, but a grin was forthcoming. "It was Fokker in the beginning, Hunter. I'll grant you that. Fokker and all you SDF-1 heroes. You and your Zentraedi pals almost ended things for all of us."
"Come on, Edwards," Rick sneered. "It was the UEDC, you know that. Russo and ..."
Edwards laughed. "Go ahead, say it: Russo and who?"
Rick looked over at Lisa. "I'm sorry."
"Russo and Hayes," Edwards filled in. "Let's not forget your wife's old man, Hunter. It was his idea as much as anyone else's to use the Cannon."
"Then why blame us? Gloval was against it--we all were."
Edwards winced and put a hand to the headband. Behind him the Genesis Pit loosed a flash of unharnessed energy.
It's coming apart, Rick thought. Baldan and Teal must have made it to the brain.
Edwards glared at him and ripped away his faceplate, revealing a dead eye at the apex of two hideous diagonal scars. "This is why!" he screamed, gesturing to his face. "This is why I hate the two of you."
Rick and Lisa exchanged baffled looks.
"No, of course you don't understand," Edwards continued. "But maybe if I told you how this happened you'd begin to get the picture. You see, I was there that day, Hunter. I was at Alaska Base."
Lisa inhaled sharply. "But ... but that's impossible."
Another flash of energy escaped the Pit, but Edwards ignored it. "Oh, no," he assured her. "Not impossible. You remember where you were?"
Lisa did. She had been ordered to see about a glitch in a shielded commo relay substation. There were sights and smells she didn't want to recall ... amber light ... barely enough fallback power to keep her console functioning. Then her screen had come alive momentarily: multicolored lines of static and an image of her father's face, broken by interference. And she could see he was still in the command center, a few figures moving behind him in the gloom, lit by occasional flashes of static or electrical shorts--
"I was there," Edwards was saying. "I was there when you and your father said your last good-byes."
Lisa looked terrified by the revelation. "But I thought ... I was the screen go dark. I was sure--"
"But you never bothered to check!" Edwards seethed. "Neither of you!"
Rick, too, was recalling that day. He remembered maneuvering his Skull Veritech through a confining space of exploding power ducts and ruptured energy mains; using the Guardian's phased-array laser to burn a circular hatch through a thick shield door; Lisa rushing into his arms from the end of a short interconnecting passsageway.
"Edwards," Rick said quietly, "I--"
"You what, Hunter? I saw the two of you leave ... She was on your lap, wasn't she? Such a cute pair. Meant for each other." Edwards's face contorted as the headband drove something unseen into his mind. He wedged his fingers underneath it, as though to keep it from constricting his scalp. The Pid belched a mad torrent of flames.
"I called out to you, Hunter ... I crawled across that molten glass terrain on my belly praying for you to hear me." Edwards tore the sensor band from his head and collapsed to his knees in pain. He turned to glance at the Pit and motioned to it with the Badger. "You left me in hell up there, and now I'm going to do the same for you. Now move, both of you." (176-178)
I'm sure that's especially interesting reading for those of you who've already read issue #4, which explicitly points out how Edwards' "origin" is very much the same in Prelude's take on things.
Lisa outright says to Rick, "... don't get too comfortable on that bridge, mister. That's MY chair you've been sitting in." Again, since Lisa hasn't been confirmed as a character appearing in the upcoming initial Shadow Chronicles animation, I'm wondering about her continued claim on that chair ... if something in the final issue will render that claim null and void.
See both forms of Janice's new body, as Lang tinkers with it and turns the holographic human image on and off. As a side note here, notice that in the comics (and, for that matter, in the original proposed TV series), Janice's human form was merely a holographic facade, whereas in the novels ... well, I'll let this passage from World Killers speak for itself ...
The raiding party stared, aghast, at the thing that had been Janice Em.
Her skin has become transparent, and the blood vessels and musculature of her face could be seen. Her eyes emitted an eerie light; what there was of her expression seemed flat, unblinking and un-Human.
Jack found that he had instinctively raised his submachine gun. "Wh-what are you, a zombie?" He felt stupid even saying it.
Her voice, when it came, had much of Janice's tone and manner. "No; I am an Artificial Person, built in the Tokyo research megaplex. I've acted as Dr. Lang's eyes and ears on the Sentinels mission."
Lron's broad, thickly furred chest rumbled. "I don't like such things--androids running around pretending they are alive!" (57)
Then again, McKinney's Janice has to have some sort of holographic emitter -- Edwards' final scene in Rubicon features him believing Janice to be Minmei, then she reveals herself and carries him into the Genesis Pit as Optera dies. (I expect this scene would be extra familiar to folks who've already read issue #4 of Prelude ...)
Janice has been watching Dr. Lang. After observing the holographic human image, Janice says, "It would also appear from the image that the name you gave me was not a coincidence after all, was it?" Lang confirms this, which reveals to us that he's got some enigmatic new backstory. I wonder how soon we'll get the payoff for this little tidbit, given that Lang will also not be returning for the Shadow Chronicles animation by all accounts. Between this and the Dr. Zand bits -- by the way, he's not in this issue -- it sounds like we've got enough new backstory bits for an ongoing series, but we've only got the two issues left to resolve the main storyline, and we barely seem to have enough time each issue for even that.
Oh, and remember this -- Lang gives a lot of credit to Veidt and the Haydonites for their assistance on Janice's new body.
Dr. Miles Cochrane, formerly of the Army of the Southern Cross, to Rick: "We're working as fast as we can to retrofit older ships with Shadow Technology. However, our engineers are being hampered by the new security measures that have been keeping many of them in the dark." If the engineers don't even know what they're doing, no wonder Scott Bernard and his allies knew nothing of the Shadow Technology until they were filled in by intelligence agent Sue Graham in episode #83, "Reflex Point." Rick tells Cochrane that this is a lesson taught by Edwards' betrayal, and shows how the events in space have come to darken the Expeditionary Force, and Rick in particular ... indeed, you could say that it has draped them deeper in shadow ...
Louie tells Rick, "... though I'm still trying to wrap my head around all the scientific principles behind this new technology." Contrast this remark with ...
Graham changed discs; technical readouts now filled the holo-field, replacing the space footage. "The Protoculture generators of the new-generation VTs have been redesigned to include a fourth-dimensional configuration that renders the Shadow Fighter invisible. The Nichols drive, it's called." (Symphony of Light, 152)
As Louie gives Rick the grand tour of Space Station Liberty, Rick sees some ships he doesn't recognize. Louie tells him that they're heavily armored colony ships, built in response to the outbreak of hostilities after the original Pioneer Mission, and that the first will be called the Ark Angel. Due to the darkness of the panel, we don't actually get to see the Ark Angel ... this has been a recurring problem with this series. Is it the printing process? The paper stock? Or an overzealous colorist? In any case, it's annoying.
Honestly, this use of the name "Ark Angel" makes a lot more sense than the Haydonite vessel from the comics or the arbitrarily renamed SDF-7-class ship from the novels (its name first mentioned only in passing during the beginning of the battle for Haydon IV -- page 83 of World Killers if you want to see for yourself). It suggests, y'know, an ark, like Noah's weathering the storm that wiped out all life that wasn't aboard it. Clearly these armored colony vessels are a case of the REF preparing for the worst ...
Louie points out a fleet of old Angel-class colony ships, unused, being mothballed to make way for the Ark Angel class. Clearly the Expeditionary Force has been rather busy out here at Liberty for all these years. In general shape these Angel-class ships bear a striking resemblance to the Neutron-S missiles that the Expeditionary Force, led by General Reinhardt, nearly used on planet Earth in the last episode of the Robotech TV series.
Edwards has the survivors of the Tokugawa brought before him at one of the Invid hives on Optera. Vince cuts to the chase in classic Robotech style: "What have you done with the rest of my crew? And where is Minmei?" (emphasis mine) Boy, you'd think she's the most important person in the world. Worth noting, she hasn't been seen in two issues' time, and still never from the front.
Edwards explains himself. "Do you see this? All of this is at my command! The entire Invid army on Optera, their resources, their technology! Mine ... to command!" Vince asks what he's going to do with it. "To retake Earth from alien occupation, of course! Why else do you think I've done all this? Everything I have done is because of the Earth! To protect Earth!" Boy, this in stark contrast to Edwards at the start of Sentinels Book II, where he calls the Earth a "pitiful planet"! I guess Rick was right about him all along -- remember, in Prelude #1, he said, "He thinks he's the only one who can protect Earth by destroying every potential enemy rather than building alliances." Vince accuses him of betraying Earth and the Expeditionary Force, but Edwards believes it is the Expeditionary Force that has betrayed Earth by failing to protect it from Invid occupation. Look back to the second issue of Robotech: Invasion. Lancer says: "According to the Gloval Initiative of 2014, one of the long-term goals of the Robotech Expedition is the advancement of colonization to preserve the human race. Going back to fight over a planet with a compromised ecosystem appears to be a contradictory use of expeditionary resources ... ma'am."
Ah, nice how all these series interlock like this. Obviously there is some truth to Edwards' words here.
Edwards continues: "Therefore, I no longer owe that shortsighted and ineffectual organization my allegiance ... but neither have I given it to the Invid. You didn't really think I had joined that overgrown snail, did you? It was simply a means to an end, an unsavory but essential step in my plan."
Well, there's one thing that's consistent about Edwards.
Edwards draws a clear line through his plans for his captives. In the wake of the Regent's death, Edwards plans to use the Regent's Invid forces to combat the Regess' army on Earth and retake the planet. (Clearly this plan wouldn't have worked in the old Sentinels scenario -- at least the one from the novels & comics -- because the Regess doesn't invade Earth until after the Sentinels campaign and the war with Edwards' forces.) Vince asks why Edwards didn't bring the plan before the REF council. "The council? That bunch of acquiescing diplomatic idiots who turned against me? Who would rather "make peace" with every alien menace that comes along than fight for our rightful place in the universe? Who would leave the destiny of humankind to the mercy and whims of alien races? This I cannot allow!" On the one hand, Edwards comes off as a sort of "human supremacist." Recall that tolerance and understanding are key themes of the original three generations of Robotech -- by the end of each generation, important members of the enemy aliens' societies have turned around to the goal of peace between mankind and their own people. The human race might "win," but romance between characters of different races blossoms, and those aliens who remain stick around to help humanity rebuild. And yet, on the grand scale, Edwards isn't so daft not to trust aliens given the fabulous track record so far with the Zentraedi, Masters, and Invid. And furthermore, the script is very specific to have our "heroes" continue to go on and on about the help they've been getting from the Haydonites and Karbarrans, in sharp contrast with Edwards' attitude.
Remember that scan about Edwards' motives where he calls Leonard a fool? Here's another difference between Sentinels Edwards and Prelude Edwards: "Supreme Commander Leonard was ridiculed and vilified by the council for his hard-line stance against aliens, only to be proven right. THEY ARE NOT TO BE TRUSTED. The Earth has been victimized too many times by poor leadership." And Supreme Commander Leonard wasn't poor leadership? Oh, I know there's a contingent that believes he was right in his actions, but he always struck me as a bit of a blunt instrument. Anyway, this moment makes me curious about what these two were up to after Edwards escaped Alaska base and as the world started to go on the mend. Obviously Edwards made it aboard the SDF-3 and Leonard rose to lead the defense forces, but in the new landscape I wonder how their ascent played itself out.
Edwards continues: "The justification is to keep the human race in a position of absolute dominance over the galaxy, and to never let the Earth be conquered by an alien force ever again. And if I have to use alien technology to do it ... I will!" That's an interesting contrast with his old pal Leonard as portrayed in The Zentraedi Rebellion:
"Is that prudent, given what we might be able to learn from the captives? Perhaps you're unaware that I've had extensive experience interrogating the Zentraedi. Not in the field, it's true, but some of the same laboratory techniques can be applied. In any case, who knows what the Scavengers may have in the way of usable mecha or Protoculture. And we don't want that destroyed, do we?"
Leonard glanced at Zand, his broad, hairless brow deeply furrowed. "Don't mention that infernal word to me, Professor. I find it as offensive as taking God's name in vain. It has long been my wish that the hardware of the Southern Cross could be fueled by something other than that alien evil." He nodded his chin at Zand. "Maybe you could brew something up for us--something Human-grown." (232)
Can't help but be amused by Leonard's phrasing here in the wake of Edwards' monologues -- "alien evil." The thing is, Edwards makes sense in terms of keeping Earth defended eternally from alien invaders, but his talk of human dominance veers a bit too close to a sort of racist dogma for comfort. Wasn't so much of the first two generations of Robotech centered on the idea that Zentraedi and Tirolians are people, too?
Edwards demonstrates the Genesis Pit for Vince, Jean, and Karen's benefit. We never saw the Genesis Pit on Optera in the comics, but the visual of the Optera Pit is strikingly similar to the Pit on Praxis that the Regess was working with in Sentinels Book II.
An Invid knocks a "redshirt" into the green bubbling liquid -- and out comes a many-eyed, many-fanged monster. This is the same use that Edwards found for it in the novels, and the same use the Regess was using the one on Praxis for in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book II #6. (Unlike Edwards, who has his experiments tossed carelessly into the pit, the Regess had an elaborate structure built atop the Pit that lowered the subject in.) And yet, as Edwards explains, the primary purpose for the Genesis Pit is supposed to be experiments in evolution -- hence the prehistoric beasts roaming beneath Praxis in Jason & John Waltrip's "Amazon World" one-shot comic and the prehistoric animals that Scott Bernard, Rand, and Annie LaBelle ran into beneath the Earth's surface in Robotech TV episode #69, "The Genesis Pit."
Rick Hunter and the Expeditionary Force more or less silently land on Optera. Despite descriptions of an uninhabitable atmosphere last issue, Rick charges out without a helmet on in CVR-3 battle armor in his old VF-1J Vermilion One colors, demanding Edwards be taken in alive.
To Be Continued ...