Keep this in mind ...

Well, it's nearly April, which means it's nearly my birthday again -- but that's not why I'm writing now. No, I'm writing because of an even nearer date than April 3 -- indeed, a very dangerous date for we ROBOTECH fans: April 1.

The folks at, on a typical April 1, will post up some outrageous and silly news story in celebration of April Fool's Day. Some years, like the year where on March 31 -- not April 1 (I think April 1 was Easter that year) -- they posted up a phony preorder for a Robotech 3000 box set, they post up honest yet remote possibilities, ticking off some people, who still hold small grudges, royally. With Shadow Chronicles looming so soon, I hope that's not the avenue they take. Usually, however, they post up a story that's obviously ridiculous, like the time they claimed they'd fired their internet staff and replaced them all with a supercomputer. Either way, my point is, take any news story that appears at this weekend with a grain of salt.

You know what would be funny? It would be hilarious if they posted the real, honest-to-god release date for Shadow Chronicles this weekend, then had to spend the next week assuring everyone that, yes, that's actually the real date. That would be golden.


Robotech novels stuff

Original pencil art for the cover of Robotech #21: Before The Invid Storm, by Ken Steacy

Over in this thread at the forums, in between discussion of new ROBOTECH novels and reprinting the old ones, I recall seeing a remark about how popular the ROBOTECH novels were back in the day, and how many printings they went through. Curious, I grabbed my copies of the novels and flipped to the copyright page. This is what I found ...

Genesis - Sixteenth printing, April 1993
Battle Cry - Tenth printing, May 1991
Homecoming - Eleventh printing, August 1991
Battlehymn - Eighth printing, April 1990
Force of Arms - Twelfth printing, 1994
Doomsday - Ninth printing, November 1990
Southern Cross/Metal Fire/The Final Nightmare omnibus - First edition, April 1995
Invid Invasion - First edition, October 1987
Metamorphosis - Thirteenth printing, 1995
Symphony of Light - Fifth printing, April 1990
The Devil's Hand - First edition, April 1988
Dark Powers - Sixth printing, June 1990
Death Dance - First edition, June 1988
World Killers - First edition, July 1988
Rubicon - Ninth printing, July 1993
The End of the Circle - Fourth printing, July 1991
The Zentraedi Rebellion - First edition, May 1994
The Masters' Gambit - First edition, April 1995
Before the Invid Storm - First edition, April 1996

Most of my copies of these books are in pretty sorry shape, the worst being my copies of the Robotech Masters three-in-one, End of the Circle, and The Zentraedi Rebellion; most of my first editions I snagged at second-hand bookstores and are, surprisingly, in better shape than those three, which I know for a fact I bought brand-spanking-new. In fact, I clearly recall picking up my copy of The Zentraedi Rebellion from one of those cardboard standee type displays when it came out. I suspect Del Rey did the big display because they recalled the prior success of the line, only to find diminishing returns with the "Lost Generation" books.

In any case, my personal hope is that the books get reprinted "warts and all" -- a selfish hope, as I'd like bright shiny new copies to replace my battered books (and maybe a copy of The Masters' Gambit that doesn't have the word "Gambit" misspelled on the spine -- yes, it reads "Giambit" right there on the spine!) and don't really want to be forced to fight off the urge, the need to provide a point-by-point comparison between these older printings and newer, monkeyed-with printings. It's a balancing act, I know -- is it a bigger deal to tromp all over the long-time and lapsed fans' memories, or to have two conflicting versions of the universe on store shelves when new fans enter the franchise?

Honestly, I think tacking a happy little foreword explaining the context of the closed circuit of the original novels would be the easiest and least intrusive way to keep all parties happy, but you know, Harmony Gold's gonna do what Harmony Gold's gonna do. Somehow I doubt my bleating is going to prevent them from tampering with Daley & Luceno's completed circle ... that is, if they so desire. I dunno, has Tommy or someone else actually said they're going to monkey with the novels, or am I getting all out of shape for nothing? (There is, of course, the rejiggered timeline that was present in the Macross Saga omnibus reprints in '02, but that could have been a fluke.)

Robofact: When hunting for the ROBOTECH novels at used bookstores, you can spot a first edition of books #1-12 or Sentinels #1-5 by seeing where the logo is on the spine. If the ROBOTECH or Sentinels logo is above McKinney's name, it's a first edition; if the logo is below McKinney's name, it's a subsequent printing.

Oh, and I'm curious ... anyone know how many printings the "Lost Generation" novels went through? I'm pretty sure Before The Invid Storm only had one printing, but how about The Zentraedi Rebellion? I seem to recall seeing copies that listed The Masters' Gambit as being available.


Shadow Chronicles Scorecard

Click to make big ... REALLY big!

Look at this handy thing I made for you folks -- a chart showing every named character who appeared in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles (except Minmei, who as you'll recall was never seen head-on), plus two individuals we know will be in the Shadow Chronicles feature, complete with "before" pictures for all the ROBOTECH animation veterans showing them as they appeared in the TV series (or in a few cases, as they appeared in the Sentinels animation or, in the case of Veidt & L'ron, comic book covers).

The thing to soak in here is that while not every character pictured will appear in the Shadow Chronicles feature, all of them (save the characters marked as "deceased") are still in play in the Shadow Chronicles era. That means they're fair game to appear in Shadow Chronicles follow-ups such as further animation, comics, or (if the current buzz is to believed) novels. Twenty-four surviving characters, only half of whom are confirmed as appearing in the animation ... you know, most of the rest of these characters have stories that aren't quite finished yet at the end of Prelude, and here's hoping that they are followed up on in one medium or another.


Tangent - Pretty Anime Pictures

Tired of looking at all the long-winded text below? Here, I've updated my anime cel collection site for the first time in over a year -- look at some pretty pictures."

I'll have more on topic efforts up tonight.

Prelude to the Shadow Chronciles #5 Annotations

Page 3

The Edwards-Regent is not only bulletproof, as the sequence at the top of page 2 proves, but he's also evolving -- his white hair recedes, the human half of his jaw turns monsterous, the claws on his left hand extend, he grows claws and spikes on his right hand, shell-like ridges appear on his Invid-like neck and crustacean left forearm, and the tentacles on his back extend. He will continue to grow and evolve throughout the issue, which makes sense given that, as he bellows on the next page, he and Optera's Genesis Pit are one.

Page 4
"The time has come for me to rise to a higher plane of existence from which to continue my evolutionary development and conquest!" Edwards shouts. I wonder, if he continues to evolve along Invid lines, is his endpoint the phoenix of mindstuff that the Regess and her children became at the end of the ROBOTECH TV series? I mention this because his language here mirrors that of the Regess at the end of the series:

"Our evolutionary development is complete," the racial voice continued.

"To all my children scattered throughout the cosmos ... Follow me to a new world, a new plane. Abandon this tortured life and follow the spirit of light as it spreads its wings and carries us to a new dimension ..." (McKinney, Symphony of Light, 205)

Notice the same words coming from Edwards's mouth that came from the Regess's call, talk of evolutionary development and rising to new planes; here on Optera, having been bathed in the forces of the Genesis Pit, Edwards has gone native. The blue lightning surrounding the Invid hive and, as bridge officers inform Admiral Hayes-Hunter, the energy levels spiking across the spectrum fill me with this feeling that I may be right -- if gone unchecked, perhaps Edwards would ultimately be transformed into a being of light, and what sort of mischief a twisted guy like that would get into in such a form scares me cold.

Page 5
Considering the fact that Edwards is using his vague Invid powers to throw the Neutron S missiles at the SDF-3, I fully expect I'm right about his evolutionary path; otherwise, he'd be worried about the unchecked power to devastate a planet being unleashed on a small object in Optera orbit several times over.

Page 6
Pieces Moving Into Place, Part 1 - Rick, Vince, and the other survivors of Rick's Cyclone team and the Tokugawa escape Optera aboard Edwards's Icarus.

Page 7
Pieces Moving Into Place, Part 2 - As the SDF-3's twin-synchro cannons fire at the rapidly evolving Edwards from orbit, Janice (whose homing signal is serving as the SDF-3's target) remotely uploads her personality into Dr. Lang's new android.

Pages 8 & 9

With the SDF-3's twin-synchro cannon blast piercing Optera's cloud cover for a moment, Rick and Vince spy strange spots on the planet's surface circled by three mounds. The art is so vague that honestly this could be anything. Given the follow-up remark -- "The Invid are no longer here. Edwards and his group were all that was left of Optera. This planet's a graveyard." -- there's a number of different things we could be looking at here. One possibility is that these are the spots where the Invid hives used to stand. Another inviting possibility is that what we're looking at is the remains of whatever devices the Robotech Masters unleashed on Optera so long ago to defoliate it in the first place -- the devices that made the world as inhospitable as it was described at the start of issue #2 when the Tokugawa entered orbit around it. Given the conversation between Breetai and the Regent shortly before their deaths in issue #2, that would make good sense, touching back on that shard of history before moving on.

Karen tells Rick, "Sir, the SDF-3 is jamming our communications! They must think we're the enemy!" However, two pages back, Janice told the SDF-3, "The ground crew are evacuating the hive." I get that it's Edwards's ship, but c'mon people, open a line ... but then, if they did that, you couldn't have what happens next.

The flashing of the Icarus's running lights is an homage to episode #24, "Showdown," where Rick flashed a morse code message with the running lights of his Super VF-1S to keep a message just between himself and Lisa. Using that here to prove his identity is a cute use of the characters' shared history that made me smile when I read it.

Page 10

Pieces Moving Into Place, Part 3 - Dr. Lang gives the new Janice a rose to put in her hair, which appears in the character design art that's been circulating for the past year or so.

Also, Lisa gives up her command to serve, it appears, as the REF's ambassador to the Sentinels' council.

Rick also mentions that Jack Baker is escorting Minmei and Cabell (who we haven't seen all series long -- he gets a cameo appearance a few pages from now) back to Tirol.

Remember how in the notes for issue #4 I mentioned that Tommy Yune and the Waltrips seemed to backtrack on radically altering Minmei? When Lisa asks Rick about her, Rick says, "We found her just in time." Just in time for what? Maybe this means she'll only look a little different if/when we see her in the post-Shadow Chronicles animation.

Rick mentions that due to the technology seized from Edwards, "we won't face the same fate as the Mars Divisions." This sets the scene in late 2042 at the earliest. The next page will push that boundary a little farther along the timeline. Rick adds, "However, I still sense Edwards was trying to tell us something." I'm curious what exactly Rick's thinking of here -- is it the mistrust for the Sentinels that he's talking about, or did Vince tell Rick about the whole cryptic predestination jibber-jabber?

Page 11
The Expeditionary Force debates the use of Edwards's Neutron S missiles. Brought into the discussion is intelligence that the Invid are using human beings for experiments on Earth -- see episode #81, "Hired Gun," WildStorm's Invasion mini-series, or Gregory Lane's Class Reunion one-shot from Antarctic Press for good examples of that. My question is, how did the REF get this intelligence? Throughout the New Generation episodes of the TV series, Scott Bernard's band of freedom fighters NEVER managed to make contact with the Expeditionary Force until they stumbled across Sue Graham. Don't tell me we were following around the wrong group of freedom fighters the whole time ...

General Reinhardt, of course, can't make it through his speech without bringing up his dear "scorched earth" tactics, which he later mentions to Sparks in episode #85, "Symphony of Light." He suggests that the Invid will spread to the moon, Mars, etc., totally misunderstanding the Regess ... but then again, after the REF's battles with the Regent and his forces on Tirol and beyond, how's he to know that the Regess's motives are totally different? As an aside, note that he has a Mars Base patch on his uniform, unlike all his fellows who wear the UEEF three circle emblem.

"I've held idealistic hopes for peace since my youth," Rick says, "but it's always been more difficult to put such principles to practice." As Rick speaks these words, I find myself flashing back to a young nineteen year old chiding his "big brother" Roy Fokker for his pride in shooting down 108 enemy planes in the last war, calling him a "killer" for it. He seems to reluctantly agree to the use of the Neutron S missiles as a last resort if the Shadow Fighters and other fruits of the Shadow technology font fail. It seems awfully disingenuous of Reinhardt, after seeing him lobby for the Neutron S missiles' use, for him to turn around in episode #84, "Dark Finale," and tell Sparks that in the event of the REF fighting a losing battle against Reflex Point, "... I've been ordered by Admiral Hunter to obliterate the planet completely."

Reinhardt tells Hunter that they've been coordinating the resistance on Earth from the SDF-4; remember Gabby's son relaying messages in Hunter's name from the SDF-4 in episode #78, "Ghost Town"? That sort of thing must be what he's referring to.

Pieces Moving Into Place, Part 4 - Rick orders Reinhardt, leading the charge aboard the SDF-4, to amass all available REF forces at Moon Base ALUCE for the final coordinated strike on Reflex Point, as we see in episode #84, "Dark Finale"; meanwhile, he's taking the SDF-3 and testing out one of the Neutron S missiles in deep space. This puts the SDF-3 out of the way, and puts Reinhardt right where we first meet him in the TV series, at ALUCE.

Page 12
Veidt tells Rick to be wary, that, "Your fleet now possesses the greatest destructive power in ages." Quite a scary thought, since it's only been thirty-two years since the destruction of Dolza's fleet, which certainly outnumbered the Expeditionary Force's current fleet, right?

Karen reports to Rick that the Jupiter Division has dispatched a squad under Sue Graham to field test the Shadow Devices and the synchro cannon. That means we're looking at events taking place in June or July 2044.

Pieces Moving Into Place, Part 5 - Karen also tells Rick that the Sterlings have arrived on the Shimakaze -- which, as an aside, would be the first ship of the same class as Edwards's (and now Vince Grant's) Icarus. Rick has Max, who apparently is still leading the Skull Squadron at this point, report to the SDF-3, but his team is to rendezvous with the REF forces heading to ALUCE. Rick says to Karen, "There's more than one Sterling who can lead Skull Squadron." Which leads us to ...

Page 13

Space Station Liberty is apparently a gigantic place, so big that up to this point Dana Sterling has never met the Zor-clone Rem (who, by the way, is going back to Tirol as well). This means we get a kind of cheesy moment where, as they pass each other in what appears to be a fighter bay, he asks if they know one another, and Dana tells him, "In another lifetime ..." obviously referring to Zor Prime. What's odd is that she has a much stronger reaction when she sees another lavender-haired person right behind Rem, Shadow Chronicles female fighter pilot Maia. Dana doesn't say one word to the girl.

The current theory floating out there is that Maia, whose last name hasn't appeared in any of the presentations and interviews on the Shadow Chronicles feature thus far, is the Sterling that Rick was referring to, and based on Dana's reaction and the fact that after Dana's interruption Maia then continues talking to another squadron leader, newly instated Wolf Squadron leader Daryl Taylor, I'd say the theory holds water.

Assuming this to be the case, let's do some quick math here ... assuming Maia is about nineteen, same as Rick Hunter when he fell head-first into the ROBOTECH saga, that would put her birth in 2025 and make her five years old during the final battle of the Second Robotech War, when Dana and her sister had their moment of telepathic communication across the cosmos triggered by the final surviving Protoculture Matrix blossoming. Dana's sister in "Catastrophe" looked about five, didn't she? I'd say, "Yes."

Maia Sterling it is.

Oh, and by the way, Taylor now has his "kewl" scar through his eye, sans explanation.

Page 14

Meet our new green fighter pilot heroes: Alex Romero and Marcus Rush. Like Maia, Marcus's last name isn't given in the book, but it was spilled at the end of last year at one of HG's anime convention presentations. That was the last name of poor dead Marlene, by the way, and Marcus is seen clutching a holo-locket of his own.

Page 15
Pieces Moving Into Place, Part 6 - Vince Grant officially takes command of the Icarus and then asks for Dr. Cochrane's best engineer. Again, apparently Space Station Liberty is so big that Vince Grant and Louie Nichols have never met, despite the fact that they have a common touchpoint in the form of Vince's son Bowie, Louie's former comrade in arms with the 15th ATAC. Indeed, when Louie mentions this to him, that part of his military record is what convinces Vince to take him along. Shortly, the SDF-4's fleet folds for ALUCE.

Page 16
Veidt is in communication with someone unseen -- Haydon IV's Awareness, perhaps? -- regarding the REF's recent decisions. When Veidt tells the mysterious voice that the Expeditionary Force ruling council has approved the use of the Neutron S missiles, the voice says to him, "The humans are willingly placing themselves on the path of the Robotech Masters?" The first thought I have reading this is that it reminds me of the long-standing rumor that, had ROBOTECH TV series visionary Carl Macek completed Robotech III: The Odyssey (the roughly sketched-out follow-up to The Sentinels for which this blog is named), the crew of the SDF-3 would have found themselves on Tirol in the distant past and would have become the ancestors of the Robotech Masters. More relevantly, this also reminds me of a lot of the talk of the Invid Regess in episode #85, "Symphony of Light":

"This planet too strongly retains the malignant spirit of the Robotech Masters."

"The shadow of the Robotech Masters has been allowed to rule this world for too long." The neat thing about that quote is that it's made almost immediately after Reinhardt pushes the red button to send the Neutron S missiles down to Earth, meaning it's highly possible that Veidt's unseen conversation partner and the Regess are talking about the exact same thing. Add this to Exedore's comments at the very end of this issue that he's seen the Neutron S missiles in operation before, and I'm thinking it's a very distinct possibility that the Masters used the Neutron S missiles on Optera.

Veidt counters the mysterious voice by telling him, "However, Admiral Hunter has the foresight to better understand the technology seized from Edwards." I've heard it rumored that the Haydonites are the big foes of the Shadow Chronicles feature, and while this scene does point in that direction, I get the indication from this remark that Veidt trusts Rick's judgement.

Then again, you know, Rick's sitting here thinking Edwards was trying to tell them something, and the Haydonites have been helping the REF understand all their new technology. And now Veidt is telling someone unseen about the REF's troop movements. You put it together.

As the SDF-3 and the Deukalion fold into the Omicron sector, we are greeted with the first time in the series that this Robotech Master-looking guy who's been hanging around with Dr. Lang and Janice since issue #1 has been actually addressed as Exedore. Comparing his character design with the Sentinels era Exedore character design, it's actually fairly obvious, except that his skin, which started off as sort of a very light violet, keeps getting lighter and less alien-colored.

Page 17
Veidt wishes Rick luck with the Neutron S missile test, telling him, "May Haydon watch over you."

You mean the same Haydon who told the Praxians, "DO AS I BID YOU OR FEEL MY DISPLEASURE!" (McKinney, End of the Circle, 228)?

Okay, not exactly the same Haydon since that's the very work that the Shadow Chronicles feature is overwriting, but still, I wouldn't exactly feel safe with him -- or, as McKinney put it, Him -- watching over me.

Rick repeats the old chestnut, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely," and then muses, "I wonder if we're doing the right thing by letting such a monstrosity exist in this universe." I also wonder if you did the right thing by authorizing General "Scorched Earth" Reinhardt to use this "monstrosity" before you had a chance to see what it does, Rick.

Page 18
Dr. Cochrane lowers the Shadow Dimensional Field on one of the Neutron S missiles at Liberty and suddenly the warhead is attracting every loose item in the hangar towards it. Apparently the gravitational force of the neutron star matter is still strongly in effect.

Page 19
When Exedore is told, he remarks, "Then that would mean the Shadow Dimensional Field is also suppressing ..." but doesn't share with the group. Instead he tells Janice to stop the countdown.

Reinhardt asks Rick if they should delay the attack until he arrives, and Rick tells him to proceed as planned. This kind of contradicts what we see in the opening moments of episode #84, "Dark Finale," where someone, I think Reinhardt himself, remarks, "Well, we can't wait forever to start the attack. We'll have to go without him," referring to Rick.

Reinhardt, by the way, is wearing his fancy Shadow Chronicles uniform, not his plain New Generation jumpsuit. Vince is also with him, meaning either Vince is aboard the SDF-4 or Reinhardt is aboard the Icarus -- in either case, one of them isn't on his own ship right now. I believe very shortly the two will be engaged in the conversation shown in animatic form at the Shadow Chronicles panel at Anime Expo 2005, where Reinhardt tells Vince to take the Icarus and go investigate what's happened to the SDF-3.

There's a blinding flash of light.

Page 20
Where the Earth-sized planet once was, now there's a massive radiating light. Okay, maybe the Masters didn't use the Neutron S missiles on Optera -- after all, it's not a star now.

"Get us out of here, quick! Execute an emergency hyperspace fold jump, now!" Rick orders. This would be the legendary "last jump" that the SDF-3 never emerged from.

"Admiral Hunter! I've seen this weapon before! It is the sign!" Exedore shouts, continuing to be uselessly enigmatic.

"There has been a terrible error," Janice says. Funny, in episode #85, "Symphony of Light," and in the NATPE Shadow Chronicles feature trailer, the Invid Regess says, "A terrible error has been made," when the Neutron S missiles are used. And then Janice says, "All is not as foreseen."

There's that word again, the one Edwards used in issue #4 when talking to Vince: "We are but pawns in what has already been foreseen." And yet the way Janice is talking to herself, it seems that things aren't exactly going on their predestined course. Interesting.

Note that the last caption box says, "The Shadow Chronicles begin!" and we've just ended right where episode #84, "Dark Finale," begins with the SDF-3 having made its final fold and the REF fleet led by the SDF-4 massing at ALUCE.



Prelude to the Shadow Chronciles #4 Annotations

Page 1

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 saw 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 passageway.

"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' 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 Pit 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 I'm going to do the same for you. Now move, both of you."

"Don't do this, Edwards," Rick said. "I'm the one who left you behind. Let Lisa go."

Edwards laughed in spite of the pain that was radiating through him. "The hero right to the end, huh? Well save it. The only thing that kept me alive was thinking about how I was going to pay you back. There's nothing you can say now that'll change that." (McKinney, Rubicon pages 177-178)

If you've been reading the Prelude notes so far, you may already be familiar with this passage from Rubicon, the fifth of Jack McKinney's Sentinels novels. Refamiliarize yourself with it, because parts of it will be relevant later as well. For now, notice that the first page of Prelude #4 confirms that the reference to Alaska Base that Rick makes to Lisa back in issue #3 was done because Yune & the Waltrips are going with the notion that Edwards was present and seriously wounded there, and it's because Hunter didn't notice Edwards as he escaped with Lisa in tow that Edwards has this overplayed irrational hatred of Rick Hunter. Remember, the "transferring his hatred from Fokker to Hunter" thing isn't in play thanks to the changes made to Edwards & Fokker's relationship in the first WildStorm series, "From The Stars," which leaves us to rely totally on the Alaska Base thing to explain why Edwards hates Hunter so much ... *sigh*

Notice the addition of the red-haired woman in a Robotech Defense Force female enlisted tech's uniform dying in Edwards' arms as the scene plays out in Prelude #4. As she dies, she calls him by his first name, "Thomas" -- obviously it's someone he knows personally. A girlfriend? Certainly his present tense remark in the caption -- "But what is the point of surviving, only to lose that which you hold dear?" -- suggests this is the case. Personally, I've got a theory we'll get to in a bit.

Consider the captions that follow. "Does civilization become meaningless if we abandon civility to defend it? Then what is the value of civility when we are faced with extinction? How far should we go? And how far ... is too far?" Is he questioning the tactics he has employed? Is he having second thoughts about this entire gambit in the wake of the Expeditionary Force's counterattack? Kind of late for that, don't you think? And yet, it's another sign of him being portrayed much more sympathetically, as a person who truly believes in defending humanity and its homeworld, even if his methods make him the villain.

Page 3

You'll notice the range of similar parts between the Cyclone and the vehicle Admiral Rick Hunter is riding in, which Kenneth Olson at Robotech Research appears to have dubbed the M-310 "Battle Buggy". These similarities led many to wonder whether this vehicle is transformable. In practical terms, this seems unfeasable due to its two-man, side-by-side crew compliment. Plus, we never see it happen -- Rick dismounts as he charges into the Hive. Combine the fans' desire to see a new transformable Robotech mecha with their desire to see Rick Hunter charge into battle one more time in a Battloid, and, well, who could blame people for such wishful thinking?

Page 4

A cute nod to the old Sentinels comics -- now it's Jack who's the ranking officer enforcing the chain of command. (I believe in the audioblog I said it was Sentinels Bk. II #3, but I'd forgotten the operation doesn't actually go forward until issue #4.)

Page 5
Jack Baker is shot down; originally his wingman Daryl Taylor, who takes over Jack's Wolf Squadron and continues to lead the squadron in the Shadow Chronicles feature, was supposed to get shot down, in order to explain the "kewl" scar through his eye, but this worked better for setting up Jack's sequence of events for the rest of Prelude.

Page 6

"New boss, same as the old boss," the Regent's Invid forces realize. This would have been even more true if it was classic Sentinels Edwards; he and the Regent were like two sides of the same coin, which makes what happens to Edwards later in this issue terribly amusing.

Finally, Dogan's visuals get around to suggesting that these are the same somewhat comical Invid forces that the Waltrips drew and later wrote throughout their Sentinels run. Speaking of which, at this late point I do wonder why we never saw any of the smaller slug-like humanoid Invid, shown above fleeing from their Regent, throughout Prelude; instead, Invid Soldier/Enforcer units, such as those Edwards barks at here, serve in their stead. The smaller slug-like humanoids can be handled with a greater level of seriousness than was seen in the Sentinels comics, as the Sentinels video shows us during the scenes between the Regent and Tesla. In the animation they are even garbled less comically, in jackets and pants instead of flowing robes. On top of their absence in Prelude, I still find it kind of weird that we didn't see any Hellcats or Odeons, given that they're the two models of Inorganic given any serious amount of screen time in the Sentinels animation. (The highly unpleasant Crann appears briefly, but only lined up against the wall -- never actually doing anything.)

Page 7
As the Invid march away to defend the hive, Vince tells Edwards that the game is up. Edwards retorts with, "I have not yet begun to fight!" He is quoting American Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones (1747-1792), who defiantly shouted these words at his British opponent as his own ship was burning and sinking. The key difference between Edwards and Jones is that Jones won his battle -- he wound up in command of the British ship that sank his own vessel when its crew surrendered after three more hours of fighting.

Vince tells Edwards that this conflict is going to cost him everything he was going to use against the Regess on Earth, and Edwards says something very telling: "We are but pawns in what has already been foreseen." (Emphasis mine.) In issue #2, Dr. Zand sat Edwards down in a chair that was hooked up to the Invid Brain that Edwards seized from the Tiresian Royal Hall all those years ago and, at a precise point in the battle between Vince's Tokugawa and the Regent's forces, flipped a switch that jacked Edwards into the living Invid computer. (I believe I erroniously attributed the connection to a headband during the audioblog of these notes; that was Edwards's connection point in the McKinney novels, as you can see in the passage from Rubicon above.) Based on this precise language, I think this had to have connected Edwards into some shared Protocultural/Robotechnological mindspace. He then says, "Our spirit of self-determination is really the key to our survival." I read this as Edwards fighting on in defiance of fate, one he's already seen through his connection with the Brain. Certainly the Brain could have just calculated his odds and thus he knows he's doomed to failure, but the thing that tips me over into the "Protocultural mindspace" concept is that word choice: "what has already been foreseen." You'll see why later.

The self-determination angle also nicely dovetails from his confrontation with Lang back in Sentinels Book IV #11, where Lang tells him, "You will be punished in time. The Shapings will see to that." Yeah, yeah, totally different Edwards, but this rejection of fate reads so nicely if you have the Edwards Vs. Lang and his Shapings angle from the Sentinels works.

And then Vince has to go and mention Rick's name. I really like how this sequence rolls, with the "mental flash" panel featuring the side of Skull One's nosecone to the left of Edwards as his artificial eye illuminates and a flash of red rage reflects off his cowl. Unfortunately, when he tells Vince, "There's only one thing I'm going to explain to Hunter ... just ... before ... he dies," (and oh, I can so hear the proper delivery of that line in my head that goes with that fantastic expression he's got at the end of the page) the confrontation he refers to doesn't live up to the hype. He suggests the sequence you read at top from Rubicon wheras we get ... well, you'll see.

Page 9

Here's a panel from Sentinels Book II #10, drawn by John Waltrip. Notice the Skull Squadron fin flash, wing insignias, and markings just below the canopy. Jason Waltrip first started adding these way back in Sentinels Book I #3, and they remained part of the mecha of the Sentinels comic until the end of Book II, when most of the Sentinels' mecha was destroyed along with their flagship, the Farrago, over Praxis.

I point these elements out to you because I think if we had some sort of visual aid like this, the colorist wouldn't have had to use the tricks seen on this page to differentiate the Wolf and Ghost Squadron Shadow Fighters -- different colors of flame coming out of their thrusters, and very oddly, red glowing cockpits for Ghost Squadron and blue glowing cockpits for Wolf Squadron. Even that's inconsistent on this page, as just before Daryl Taylor switches to Guardian to blow the Ghost Squadron fighters away, their cockpits glow blue.

I get that squad fin flash and the like wouldn't fit with the whole streamlined shape/muted hue thing the Shadow Fighters have going on, but then the unique color schemes of Macross weren't exactly realistic either -- they were for the viewer's benefit, just as unique markings would have really helped both the reader and the poor colorist, who already seemed confused by this point in the book -- after all, Daryl Taylor appears here with red eyebrows and sideburns, meaning the colorist thought this was Jack. Never mind that Lt. Taylor and Cmdr. Baker actually have distinctly different faces.

Page 10

A female Cyclone rider pulls up to give Jack a lift. Classic Sentinels rules would have this be Karen, but she's still uselessly being held with Vince Grant in the Genesis Pit chamber by Edwards. Noting this girl's purple hair, you might also be excused for assuming this to be Maia, the purple-haired Veritech pilot from the Shadow Chronicles feature who appears prominently on the cover of the next issue of Prelude. However, as one can gleam from later pages -- most notably the issue's big finale -- it's actually Janice. This would be a lot clearer if she, say, flipped up her helmet visor in the panel where her face appears, since her proper skin hue, hair color, and eye color would be big tip-offs to her identity. (Her nose is drawn kind of weird here and there's something slightly odd about her lips too, which doesn't help.)

Page 12
With Rick on the ground leading the troops into the main hive, Lisa gets her chair back for one final stint as captain of the SDF-3 Pioneer.

Rick refers to "strange objects we found in orbit." As Edwards helpfully explains in a bit, those are Neutron S missile warheads orbiting Optera.

Page 13
As the Battle Buggy and its Cyclone escorts roll through the Invid hive, Rick is surprised to see Dr. Zand. Rick mangles a paraphrasing of the famous Mark Twain quote -- "So Dr. Zand, the rumors of your untimely demise were not very accurate!" he says, winning the award for clumsiest dialogue of the entire issue -- and demands to know where Edwards and Minmei are. This is the last time Zand appears, meaning the whole issue of his mysterious resurrection following being transformed into a Flower of Life by his backfiring Protocultural destiny essence draining machine (or a more conventional death that's simply left totally in the air) remains unexplained. One more mystery for the pile, I guess.

Page 14
One contingent of the Cyclone riders in Rick's team, including Janice and Jack, breaks off to follow the coordinates Zand gave them to find Minmei. The room is filled with empty test capsules just the right size to hold a human being, some of them jacked into devices overhead featuring the classic Invid sensor eye motif. One Cyclone rider notices a capsule that isn't empty and points it out to Jack and Janice. We see a naked female silhouette that appears to have red hair, like Edwards's dead girlfriend and the redesigned Janice human form. Jack looks up at her and goes, "Oh my God." Janice is also stunned; her mouth is gaping open in shock or horror.

Obviously something is wrong. It can't just be shock from seeing Minmei suspended in an Invid device. Which leads to this theory I have:

The "Unified Red-Haired Girl Theory": Dr. Lang and Edwards, both stationed at Macross Island in the years prior to the launch of the SDF-1, both fall in love with a red-haired girl named Janice. She winds up posted at Alaska Base along with Edwards before the SDF-1's launch, and she dies there in 2012. When Lang finds out, in his grief he names the android he's developing for her. Years later, in the run-up to the confrontation with Edwards over Optera, Lang finds that he can finally give the Janice android its proper human guise during its Haydonite-assisted upgrade. Meanwhile, while his men are stationed at Optera, with his attempts to woo Lynn Minmei totally shot to hell, Edwards comes up with this crazy idea for further revenge against Rick Hunter -- with the help of Dr. Zand, he will transform Lynn Minmei, "body and soul," into Janice, essentially turning Hunter's first love into his own true love.

Alternatively, it could be that this is Zand's idea, since some pages later Edwards doesn't bat an eye when Minmei turns up looking like her right and proper self. Rather, it could be Zand seeking to one-up Lang (his usual M.O.) by creating a biological duplicate of Janice from Minmei.

In any case, this is probably the Waltrips, guided by Tommy Yune, trying to help explain away a new Minmei character design coming down the pipe in the animation following the Shadow Chronicles feature -- a sci-fi flavored variation on what happens to Rick during the course of this series, what with his hair turning white at the end of issue #1 and him getting a trendy facial scar a few pages from now. Unlike what happens to Rick, though, it feels like they pull back from the changes to Minmei next issue ...

It's also worth pointing out that Edwards's desire for Minmei is a far more driving issue throughout Rubicon; I figure it isn't so much in Prelude due to both a lack of time to adequately deal with the issue and the fact that a Shadow Chronicles-era character design couldn't be settled on by the deadline (remember how her face, vaguely sketched as it was, was cropped out of that panel in issue #1?).

Page 15
Rick and his men charge into the Genesis Pit chamber. Rick threatens to have the SDF-3 shoot down the Neutron S warheads, and Edwards kindly explains why they're named so: "The warheads use neutron star matter as an explosive core. You could annihilate the entire surface of a planet such as this ..." While this does point towards the intention of General Reinhardt at the end of The New Generation, this line might also point backwards, if you tie a few references later on down the line together ...

Page 16

With a thought, Edwards's Genesis Pit freakshow makes its debut a bit later than it did in Rubicon; indeed, they were the frontline in his defense of Optera in McKinney's work, albeit with a far more unpleasant appearance:
"What's going on out there?" Rick heard Lisa ask from the chair. He turned his back to the main screen, leaning in for a look at the threat board. The troopships had disgorged several hundred Pincer ships into the arena; but instead of launching into their usual random attack maneuvers, the battle mecha were forming up in huge squares behind individual group leaders.

Rick called for a closeup of one of the lead mecha.

And was sorry when he got it.

It was difficult to tell whether it was a ship, a living creature, or some unholy mating of the two. Bilaterally symmetrical, the thing was about the same size as a Shock Trooper; but in place of integument and alloy armor was waht looked like actual flesh and bone. This one happened to be female--a naked one at that--with plasma cannons where breasts would be, and the face and hair of Lisa Hunter.

Rick's reaction was typical: he grunted a disgusted sound, let go the first curse that came to mind, and averted his eyes from the screen.

"Destroy that thing!" Lisa was screaming.

Edwards taunted her. "I wasn't sure I got the measurements right, Admiral. Are the proportions correct?"

Rick had the scanners close on another group leader--an equally obscene caricature of himself this time, grinning madly like some horrific piece of Aztec art. And the rest of the REF command were out there as well: Vince and Jean Grant, Max Sterling and Miriya Sterling, Dr. Lang and Minmei.

"You're insane, Edwards!" Rick screamed.

"And loving you for it," Edwards replied, laughing. (McKinney, Rubicon, 135)

Somehow I doubt even a straight and proper Waltrip-crafted comic adaptation of Rubicon would have maintained this element, though in Book III the series wasn't shying away from nudity.

I should also note that the Genesis Pit-spawn in the passage from Rubicon were of the Invid stock referred to in the McKinney novels as the "Special Children," the stock that were transmuted into the Black Death Destroyers in Sentinels Book IV #8. However, in Prelude it's hinted in issue #3 that these more straightforward monstrosities that Edwards has conjured began life as REF personnel. If only Edwards would mention this to Hunter here, it might sting a little for him when Rick lets off a shot and blows the top of the head off the creature that has attacked him, knocking away his helmet and giving him his trendy scar that finally settles him into his Shadow Chronicles animation character design.

As Rick bleeds and retreats into the ranks of the Cyclone-armored soldiers under his command, Edwards draws a line between Rick's facial gash and the scars he took away from Alaska Base, weakly dropping the bombshell on him not in a ranting fit like he did in Rubicon, but in a cold comparison. Rick's retort is even weaker and colder: "Get over it! The entire Earth was under attack! We were all caught in the fog of war!" Not only does Rick already seem to know why Edwards hates him so, but he he presents a lame, weak defense of his actions. Rewatching "Force of Arms," Rick doesn't seem to be caught up in any "fog of war"; if anything, it's a fog of jubilation. Murky as the art is, you might not be able to make out that the scene on the first page takes place in the corridors of Alaska Base, when Rick is zipping through fast as can be; if we can take the two depictions together, we can guess that this is him exiting the base with Lisa in tow, fearing for their lives as conduits explode around them. Not stopping for Edwards might elicit a snide remark like, "Some hero you are, Rick." Coming up with a total crap excuse like this "fog of war" nonsense he offers when confronted with Edwards's remarks drags him down even further.

I don't know what it says about Rick, though, that I can totally hear Tony Oliver delivering the line. Maybe that he is just that bad a hero.

Page 17

Rick was about to give it another shot when a voice behind him said: "Maybe there's something I can say, T.R." He and Lisa turned around to find Minmei standing there. She was bruised and battered, more naked than dressed.

"Let them go, T.R.," she said, walking toward the rim of the Pit. "You've lost everything you worked for. But you can still have me if you let them live. I'll do whatever you ask."

"Minmei, no!" Lisa screamed.

Edwards roared a laugh. "Oh, what a day for heroism! And what a sweet thing is revenge!" He extended his right arm to her. "Come to me, my pet."

Minmei nuzzled into his open arm and wrapped her own arms around his waist. "You'll let them go, then?"

Edwards looked down at her and smiled. "Sorry, love, but you know how it is: I have to do what I have to do."

Minmei smiled back and said, "And so do I, T.R."

Edwards blanched and tried to pull away from her, catching sight of something in her eyes more evil than in his own. Then he let out a long, agonized groan of pain and terror as Minmei tightened her hold on him.

Rick and Lisa were too stunned to utter a sound. (McKinney, Rubicon, 179)

Page 18

It was Janice they saw now, Janice in android guise, lifting Edwards off his feet and carrying him toward the crater. He was howling loud enough to be heard over the Pit's fiery welcome, the chords of his neck stretched like cables, his face as red as the world awaiting him.

Janice's steps were measured and precise along the gentle incline. At the top she turned to look back at Rick and Lisa, and readjusted her load so that Edwards sat in her arms like a bride about to be carried over the threshold. Then she commenced her walk into the fire, Edwards's screams accompanying them down.

Lisa had her face buried in her hands.

Rick watched the flames lick at Edwards's blond hair and Janice's artificial flesh. Soon the fire and smoke engulfed them and the Pit let out a wailing deathsound of its own. The hive seemed to shut down around them, as though Optera itself had died, blinded by light and staked through its very heart. (McKinney, Rubicon, 179-180)

It's a very similar end awaiting Edwards through pages 17 & 18 of Prelude #4, though while Rubicon has a seperate operation taking care of the Invid Brain, the Waltrips have to clumsily stick it in the same room as the Genesis Pit and have Janice draw attention to it -- "He's controlling the creatures with the Invid Brain! Fire on the Brain!" -- so that it can get shot up and collapse on Janice and Edwards, knocking them into the Genesis Pit. It's all staged in a rather dull fashion, and honestly the art should have depicted the moment of the Brain colliding with Edwards and Janice rather than the two-panel "before and after" we're given, the latter of which shows their legs ignobly sticking out of the Genesis Pit along with the cracked Invid Brain dome as all three sink into the bubbling muck.

Obviously as you can see from the art above the Waltrips had a more straightforward adaptation of the scene from Rubicon planned if they'd been left to their own devices. Except for one detail ...

Page 20
The biggest surprise we were planning was having General Edwards survive the Genesis Pit, if only briefly. Just as Rick and Lisa think he is gone forever, Edwards would rise up out of the Genesis Pit transformed into a giant, hideous monster. (Jason Waltrip, Emissaries Vol. 1 #3, "The Brothers Waltrip: An Interview")

Notice the Invid Brain has fused itself to the right hemisphere of Edwards's head. Also notice the eyes scattered throughout it, a design element he inherits from the Invid Regent. In fact, take a good look at the tube-like design going down his right arm; that and the way his head hangs down now suggest to me that he is evolving into a sort of New Regent birthed from Optera itself as the planet's last gasp.

To be continued ...


The red tint on Minmei was confirmed to merely be a lighting effect, though from Jack Baker and Janice's reactions you'd expect there to be some ill effect of Minmei's treatment, especially given that the writers themselves drew that particular page.

By the same token, the girl Edwards is holding in the opening of this issue is someone that both Edwards and Lang had great affection for, but not in the way I assumed -- it's Dr. Lang's sister, Janice Lang. Shades of Bill Spangler (Return to Macross)'s Nina Lang, though she does die far too early to be Scott Bernard's mother, as she is in the Return to Macross comics and is implied to be in the McKinney novels (though nothing says Dr. Lang can't have two sisters).


A quick aside about Rick Hunter in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles ...

I was just thumbing through an old issue of Robotech II: The Sentinels while working on the Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles notes -- oh, I thought I'd be clever, doing them before midnight and going, "See, it's still the day after I said I'd do them!" -- and one particular panel caught my eye. Something about the expression I noticed ...

Ignoring the size of Rick's chin in this panel from Sentinels -- it ballooned to almost comical proportions during Book II, for some reason -- I can totally see Rick in the first panel growing into Rick in the second panel, from the Waltrips' next to last page of art in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles. Omar Dogan's Rick has a broader and more angular face -- probably closer to the animation model from the Shadow Chronicles film, mind you -- while as their pages of Prelude progress the Waltrips seem to slowly add a little bit from memory to their rendering of the former Skull Leader, touches of the way they used to draw him all those years ago. It seemed to take until their final pages for the Waltrips to finally grow comfortable in their return to ROBOTECH. In their penultimate shot of Admiral Hunter, the relaxed expression and sarcastic remark give off a comforting feeling, that at long last the Waltrips are back up to speed; as the long time fan turns the page and sees Omar Dogan return to the art, the feeling washes away. While the rest of the issue certainly reads like the classic work of the Waltrip brothers, the art loses that clean, streamlined, almost animation-style feel. Dogan is a more than competent artist, and he does a fabulous job with the mechanical designs, but while his American-anime hybrid style character art passed muster with me prior to the Waltrips' arrival on art, and even seemed preferable during their first few pages in issue #4, following their final page of #5 it just left me cold, and wondering what Jason & John would have done with the pages leading up to the upcoming animated feature.

Great, now I'm torn -- I'd love to see Takeshi Miyazawa do some more ROBOTECH, but even moreso I want to see another project with the Waltrips on art all the way through. I guess we just need more ROBOTECH comic projects. Hey, Tommy ...

(Oh, and this delays the posting of the Issue #4 & 5 notes another day -- family obligations kept me away from the computer for too long tonight. Sorry.)


Filling the Bookshelf of My Dreams

I spent the weekend rearranging some of the debris of my life, chief among these things my vast library of graphic novels. With this in mind, here's the mocked up covers to the rest of the Invid War library I was discussing at the end of last week. For the record, Vol. 1 would clock in at 96 story pages, though you could easily fill that book out with bonus materials -- cover gallery, interviews with the creators, continuity notes, and so on and so forth. The thicker books story-wise could have a little less of that sort of stuff in order to balance the page counts out ... that is, if that was considered important. I've seen DC Comics collections as small as four issues and as thick as nine issues in a continuing series, twelve if they're collecting a complete maxi-series, and there's no worry about balancing out page counts with bonuses and the like. Some books just wind up thicker than others. All depends on how they want to roll.

In any case ... let's get on with the covers and what would go behind them.

Collects Invid War #5-8 and the Firewalkers one-shot. For Lancer and his fellow soldiers posted at Moon Base ALuCE II, it's a lonely life on the moon in the days following the Invid Invasion, especially when you're teamed up with a fractured force of unrepentant sophomoric bigots, disillusioned Zentraedi, and a depressed Bioroid clone. On top of that, this boiling cauldron of personalities are sitting on a huge cache of pristine Alpha Fighters, while resistance forces on the Earth go without. While this doesn't sit right with their commander, Desmond Nobutu, it's dangerous business opening a line to Invid-controlled Earth. Following the dispatch of a courier to the planet below, a desperate plan is hatched to join with Earth-based forces converging on Reflex Point to try and crush the Invid's stranglehold on the planet. However, before they can join the fight against the Invid, they have to stop fighting each other! Cover by Robert Chang from the Firewalkers one-shot. 125 story pages.

Collects Invid War #9-12. Picking up after the failed assault on Reflex Point, we see a broken Jonathan Wolfe part ways with former REF officer John Carpenter, as Wolfe builds up Soldiertown and searches for ways to amass more and more Protoculture to keep his people safe while Carpenter and his group, the Splinters, dream of opening up regular trips to ALuCE to send people safely offworld, away from the Invid, but also to get at those Alpha Fighters housed there so that no one will have to flee the Earth in fear again. Meanwhile, Nova Satori's people dig into Carpenter's organization in hopes of advancing her agenda, and the Invid launch a new and deadly weapon in hopes of annihilating their former foes, the Zentraedi. Cover by Robert Chang from Invid War #9. 96 story pages.

Collects Invid War #13-18. Scott Bernard and his freedom fighters enter the picture, witnessing the final days of Wolfe's Soldiertown as Spangler & Eldred adapt the TV episode "Eulogy," then meeting with John Carpenter's Splinters, only to part ways due to a difference in philosophies. As Bernard's team grows ever closer to Reflex Point, the world around them falls further and further into decay, as the destruction of Soldiertown ripples out to engulf Nova Satori's Global Military Police, forcing her to make peace with the Splinters. But no sooner have Carpenter and Satori sealed their truce when the final battle at Reflex Point begins, just as Carpenter's dream of an exodus to the lunar surface is poised to launch. Cover by Tim Eldred from Invid War #13. 145 story pages.

I was just thinking about it, and it'd probably be neat to toss in the story from Academy's Robotech #0, "What's Past is Prelude," by Bill Spangler & William Jang at the end of Invid War Vol. 4 since that kind of wraps up John Carpenter's story with a nice neat bow, showing his life going on in the post-war world. It would also serve as a nice prologue to a volume collecting Bruce Lewis's Aftermath, seeing how it "hints" at that with the final shot of the nuclear-adapted Veritech and talk of the city of Belmont, if that were next on the publishing schedule. It'd bring the total up to 161 story pages, but it works both in its original intended purpose as prologue to Academy's publishing line and as epilogue to the Invid War story.

Tomorrow: At long last, we're going to pick apart the final chapters of Prelude. No foollin'!


A Man Can Dream ...

I was rereading the first issue of Invid War today and it hit me that I just had to mock up a cover for a trade paperback collection of the first arc. Had to do it. Couldn't avoid it. Indeed, couldn't go to bed until it was finished. Crafted it as though possessed by some outside force that just needed to see what this book should look like. So here you have it, what the book I demand DC/Wildstorm and Harmony Gold get on the fast track should more or less look like. And if anyone tells me that we won't see it because those silly Macross Saga trades didn't sell quite so well, I'll throw a brick at 'em and point out that those books largely contain badly drawn adaptations of TV shows you can get on DVD for approximately the same price, wheras this is wholly original material written from the fertile mind of Bill Spangler, at the peak of his ROBOTECH-writing powers, and brilliantly rendered in glorious black & white by Tim Eldred and Fred Perry (who would later go on to do the highly entertaining Robotech Masters adventure "Rolling Thunder," which also deserves its own TPB).

The way I see it, since Invid War pretty much does a nice job of breaking down into four to six-issue arcs, you'd wind up with four volumes -- Volume 1 containing issues 1-4, Volume 2 containing issues 5-8 plus the "Firewalkers" special, Volume 3 containing issues 9-12, and finally Volume 4 containing issues 13-18.

Of the first four covers of the series, I think issue #3's cover best relates the point of the first four-issue arc. Jonathan Wolfe is a man out of step with the world. He sees the threat of the Invid coming, and cannot do a damn thing about it. When the Invid do arrive, he puts up a brave front and tries to rally Earth's resistance forces against their foe, but when the opportunity to be a hero to the people he left behind -- his weary wife and bitter, grown son -- presents itself, he chooses to try and be their hero in lieu of being the people's hero. And when he bungles the job, that hard descent whose end we see in "Eulogy" begins. This image, I think, most of all four covers for the material that would be in this book, makes for a fine snapshot of this character arc.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the artist behind the covers for the better part of the series' run, the hugely talented Robert Chang, whose website can be found here. (I happened upon it while doing research for an update to Robotech Comic Universe that still hasn't materialized.) His gorgeous anime-styled paintings gave the series a more polished look, more refined look that made the already rock-solid material feel even more substantial. When the dress of the book changed -- new logo, new inker, no Robert Chang covers -- along with the content, which had fast-forwarded to the arrival of Scott Bernard, the book felt somewhat diminished, brought down to the level of all those other books on the shelf. Still good, but nowhere near as good. And I think it was the loss of Chang as the cover artist that really did the trick, moreso than all the other changes combined. Out went the paintings and their texture, in came too-smooth computer colored pieces by interior artist Eldred, who's certainly an excellent artist, but his computer colored work at the time just didn't carry the weight of a good painted piece.

For uniformity's sake, and just to see one more ROBOTECH piece by the guy, if I were putting together these trades, I'd commission a new cover by Chang for the last volume, since none of the issues in that final run had a Robert Chang cover. That would be a nice touch.

I think I'll mock up covers for the other three books in the series tomorrow night. That sounds like easy fun.


Well, there you go.

Apparently the store was down so that, as Darkwater noticed, the guys could post up a pre-order for the Yamato Megazone 23 Garland figure. Only a hundred bucks, the cheapest I've seen it anywhere.

So I guess that's something. Oh, and I didn't know it had rubber tires. That's pretty cool.

The preorder page rattles off the following info:

In 1986, MEGAZONE 23 was adapted into ROBOTECH: The Movie "The Untold Story", which saw a very limited release in the United States and several foreign home video markets. The story takes place just before the onset of the 2nd Robotech War as the Robotech Masters attempt to infiltrate the Army of the Southern Cross by kidnapping and reprogramming a senior officer. Eventually, a young rebel named Mark Landry must might for his life after he accidentally comes into possession of the MODAT 5, an experimental predecessor to the Cyclone (identified as the Garland in MEGAZONE 23) that contains data that could expose the Masters' gambit.

A few notes about this text:

1) The Masters don't reprogram B.D. Andrews, they replace him with a "simulagent" clone.

2) Interesting that they mention the connection between the MODAT 5 and the Cyclone, since that tie only ever appeared in print in the first issue of the Comico New Generation comic book series. I don't even think Macek made mention of it in Robotech Art 3.

3) The placement of the parenthetical aside regarding the original name of the MODAT 5 makes it sound like it's the Cyclone that's identified as Megazone 23's Garland. I'd have put it right after "MODAT 5" but before the comma.

4) Cute touch using the phrase "the Masters' gambit," since the novel of the same name is very, very, VERY loosely adapted from ideas in Robotech The Movie: The Untold Story.

Yeah, I am a nitpicky bastard. What of it?

How suspicious.

The store is down right now. The splash page that comes up says it's for "maintenance," but you know how those wily guys are -- it could be anything. Upgrades, timing a raft of new preorders, some angry fan breaking the store for some obscure reason ...

Or it could just be boring ol' maintenance.

Best to keep an eye on it.


Tangent - 1980's Anime I'd Recommend

Bubblegum Crisis

There's about the first five minutes of the first episode of this eight episode cyberpunk OVA classic for you to take a look at. Four female mercenaries in curvaceous high-tech battle armor face off against the runamock androids of the evil Genom corporation. Owes a heck of a debt to Blade Runner -- the female lead you see singing there is named Priss, for crying out loud -- but the series gives its own twists to that dark and grimy future in a way that only late 1980's anime OVAs can. I still think the Boomer androids from this series are some of the best mechanical designs ever. Oh, and remember, you want the eight episode OVA from AnimEigo and not the inferior late 1990's remake from ADV Films, which features rather blah character designs, a very cool blue color palette, and lousy as all heck Boomer android designs. The series is currently available in a four-disc box set that contains all eight episodes plus a collection of music videos. Just watch out for that English dub; it's a stinker.

Aura Battler Dunbine

Here's the opening theme to a fantasy mecha series that ADV Films has tried to sell unsuccessfully for a few years now, Yoshiyuki "God of Gundam" Tomino's 1983 tragic fantasy epic Aura Battler Dunbine, in which a teenage boy from our world is pulled into the fantasy land of Byston Well, where he is enlisted to help in an ambitious plan of conquest. Despite being over two decades old now, Dunbine still has a very realistic feel, dealing as it does with political alliances, leaders with feet of clay, arms races, and the wary snap judgements of the common people. Plus it has sword-wielding bug-robots. Gotta love the sword-wielding bug robots. ADV Films released the fifty-two episode series on twelve discs, and interestingly the dub is directed by Carl Macek, so it has a very classic feel to it.

Metal Armor Dragonar

And here's the opening to the 1987 Gundam-a-like mecha saga Metal Armor Dragonar, a highly polished series that Sunrise tried to set up as the "next big thing" that year with Gundam's storyline wrapped up with a bow in the wake of Char's Counterattack. It's got extremely solid mechanical designs, likable and kind of infectously goofy heroes, and some pretty good drama. It's not available here in the States (it was never very popular in Japan), but you can download fansubs of the first five episodes (of 48) here and, well, there is a complete Region 0 HK DVD set floating around out there, but A) it's unlicensed and illegal, and B) it's actually kind of hard to come by at this point, too. I especially love that opening sequence, directed by Masami Obari before he became obsessed with boobs. Excellent work.


Tangent - Tim Eldred interview @ CBR

While ostensibly about his Armored Trooper Votoms work (the first remastered DVD box set comes out this week, and the prequel graphic novel he did for Central Park Media is being offered as a freebie if you pre-order it at their website), Invid War and Return to Macross's Tim Eldred is interviewed by's Tony Salvaggio about his years in the trenches doing manga-flavored U.S. comics here for Salvaggio's weekly "Calling Manga Island" column. ROBOTECH is only very briefly mentioned, but it's still quite the interesting read, touching on projects contemporary with his ROBOTECH work as well as his views on the explosion of folks using the style and techniques of anime and manga these days.

If you're wondering what he's up to currently, he mentions in the interview that he's currently doing a bimonthly Star Blazers webcomic set twenty-five years in that series' future called Star Blazers: Rebirth, which can be found at that franchise's homepage, Meanwhile, his own creator-owned sci-fi comedy comic series Grease Monkey is being released in an omnibus graphic novel edition in June. I'll have to remember that ...


Recent Robobuzz finally put up their review of the released edition of the first volume of ADV's ongoing release of Super Dimension Fortress Macross. You can read it here. I had been hoping to hear from site owner Chris Beveridge on this, since he's remarked in his previous reviews of Macross & ROBOTECH discs that he's a long-time fan of the franchise, but I guess he's all Macrossed-out. One J.J. Matthews wrote the review, and she seems pretty darned happy with the dub; however, those of you who don't care as much for it might at least find it interesting to read about the copious extras in the set.

Meanwhile, good ol' Darkwater at The (Unofficial) Robotech Reporter lets us know that the release date for Yamato's Megazone 23 Garland here in the States is June. Take a good look at it here. The first pics of the Shogo Yahagi figure that rides that Garland are there; lookin' good. The pictures show him not only riding atop his two-wheeled mount but also inside the mecha's robotic configuration. Excellent! It'll retail here in the States for $129.95, which is quite a deal when you compare it to the yen price.

And of course there was the rumor of both live action TV and motion picture projects currently in development (heck, the TV project was listed under "In Production" being spread by Darkwater based on information on the KickStart Productions website. And once it got all the way to, suddenly these things were pulled and all that's up there is a notice saying that Shadow Chronicles is in production. HMMMM. Someone getting a little ahead of themselves here, you think? Bear in mind, the image still up at The (Unofficial) Robotech Reporter attaches a screenwriter to a live action feature film version of the property, so I expect there is some sort of substance to the information KickStart had posted. Maybe Harmony Gold just didn't want this information out there distracting anyone from the Shadow Chronicles push we're going to see once the whole distribution thing gets sorted out.