Prelude to the Shadow Chronciles #5 Annotations
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 ...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.