It’s disappointing that this is a recurring feature instead of the other daily comic review, but that’s where I am right now. The only reason I have these two issues to review is my friend wants to see me review them, curious about this re-imagined (there’s that word again) Robotech. I have a feeling this series isn’t even planning to touch the other two wars (which means it’s really a re-imagining of Super Dimensional Fortress Macross in the same way Top Cow’s version of Battle Of The Planets was really Science Ninja Team Gatchaman with BOTP’s names) since I hear next issue they’re going off the rails [SPOILER]. And adding Simon Furman to the writing team, so I know they’re going off the rails.
Since my friend only gets to my side of the state when he can I have two issues to review, #2 and #3. (I’ve already reviewed #1.) Thus there will be longer synopses than usual, partly because I need to spoil #2 to review #3 and partly because they’re adapting a TV show from the 1980s you can watch on Crackle.com. Note that I’m not comparing them to the Comico comics from back in the 1980s, since with one exception they were simply adaptations of the show while trying to imitate the art style long before Japanese art styles were popular in comics. I do plan to get to the Comico books eventually, but I did review the one Macross comic they made before Harmony Gold had to pad out the series, giving Carl Macek the opportunity to create his own mythos across three generations of Robotech Wars. I love the series we got, so if I come off harsh at all at this point, please note I have a strong tie to the original, which means I am going to be judgemental of any attempt to create a new take. As my Battle Of The Planets and Devil’s Due Voltron reviews show, I can accept a new version when done right, so maybe these will be fine? With that, let’s check out both of these issues.
Titan Comics (September, 2017)
WRITER: Brian Wood
ARTIST: Marco Turini
COLORIST: Marco Lesko
LETTERER: John Workman
We’re moving into episode 2, “Countdown”. Rick and Minmei are confronted by the Zentraedi, and in a panic Minmei grabs the control and fires the gun into the giant’s hand. Roy drops in, revealing the Battloid mode…and frankly I liked it better when it was a surprise to Rick while he was in the Veritech. Instead it’s a surprise when Roy’s plane transforms while Rick is still trying to figure out Guardian mode, which in the show was supposed to be easier for him than Battloid. I guess it’s fine that Minmei does more in this scene.
Realizing the aliens are trying to lure the SDF-1 to space Gloval makes the decision to initiate the hyperspace fold while still over Macross Island. Meanwhile, Breetai is wondering what’s taking them so long, and complaining that they should already be traveling among the stars. Did you ever think the ship was probably damaged when it crash-landed on Earth without a crew? Sure, I expect him to be confused by our culture not being a race of warmongers but he should be smart enough to realize a whole new civilization would need time to study a new technology after it smashes into their planet. That’s a minor nitpick, I grant you.
Rather than get to the safety of the ship, Minmei insists Rick take her to the shelter her family is in, and continues to be a backseat driver. Apparently writing Minmei as a likable person is near to impossible for Western writers! I can’t speak for the Macross series, but she didn’t come off as a ditz in the Clash Of The Bionoids movie, nor was she the annoying nag she is here. I just want a Minmei I don’t want to tell to shut up! That means their still on the planet (well, flying just above street level) when the fold begins, but rather than sending them near the moon, they end up near Pluto. Rick shoots his way into the ship, which apparently can’t handle simple bullets…that bodes well for a spaceship in deep space! The damaged fighter crashes somewhere in the unused depths of the SDF-1, and of course immediately Minmei starts blaming him. If they’re trying to make Rick and Minmei’s romance more believable than the series this is not one of the issues I had. I really don’t want to see a Sam & Diane romance between these two. This is where issue #2 ends, and it’s not bad. Some of the changes work, and some don’t. As for the art…I’ll come back to that as we move on to #3.
Titan Comics (October, 2012)
WRITER: Brian Wood
ARTIST: Marco Turini
COLORIST: Marco Lesko
SELECTED COVER ART: Blair Shedd (my friend couldn’t get the action figure cover for issue #2 and none of the variants have anything to do with the story inside…it’s just for the nostalgia in a comic that plans to go in a different direction soon)
LETTERER: John Workman
The third episode, “Space Fold”, is the basis for this one. There isn’t much to do a synopsis on because it feels shorter than the episode itself, meaning there’s less time for us to see the beginnings of the connection between these two. They kept the scene where Rick goes out for the large floating fish and he gets more than the head in this time, but Wood decided to bring Minmei along for some reason. Look, I get that he doesn’t want her to be some damsel in distress with no agency of her own and I support that, but she doesn’t seem the type to go floating in space chasing a fish. At least tell us that if something happens to Rick she’d be all alone and would rather take the risk. She doesn’t have to be crying screaming all story, and I like that she’s less of a crybaby…I wish she complained less but at least in this issue she apologies for it, and Rick understands given the situation. We are told that they’ve been here for at least twelve days. And like in the show work on transferring Macross City to the ship after Macross Island was folded with the ship is what breaks into their section. Minmei has a reunion with her family, while Breetai swears to reclaim the space fortress. Plus Lisa name drops her boyfriend on Mars and fans of the series knows that’s not going to end well, depending on what they plan to change here. Personally the only change I would make is dropping Lynn Kyle. I hate that character, and not for the reasons I’m supposed to.
There are some good scenes in this one, like when Gloval and Roy are talking about the current situation. However, the big one in this story, and one at the heart of the unrequited love story that would later become a love triangle, is seriously neutered. Minmei mentions wanting to be a singer, and Wood makes the extra step of saying she wants to be a real singer when Minmei wanted to be a pop idol. (Pop idol music is, no pun intended, one of the running themes in Macross.) Basically it’s more hate pointed at pop music. I see this quite often, the most egregious example being an episode of Power Rangers Dino Thunder in which Tommy comes off like an old man and Kira’s old friend returns to “real music” after a stint as a would-be Brittney Spears (pre-crazy and not as sexually charged…it’s a kids show, man!) that was rather blatant in how it hated pop music. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a pop star!
But once again the art is the biggest flaw. I know firsthand that lifelike posing is harder than it looks, but nobody pays me to make big-title comics. However, my faces are still more expressive than what I’m seeing here. Yes, Turini does better on pretty much everything else than I could, especially anatomy, but “dull surprise” is practically an art form here while in #2 there was a lot of showing teeth. There is one panel that you can tell Minmei and Rick are rather exhausted and the art is not the reason I can’t connect–it’s that we don’t get enough story time with Rick and Minmei. (This really needed a second issue to pull this off.) But most of the time the faces have no life to them, plus Minmei and Sami (my favorite of the bridge crew so of course I noticed) look so much alike it’s sad. I would rather see Blair Shedd, whose work I’m already familiar with during the IDW Doctor Who comics I enjoyed, or even better the Waltrip Brothers, would have been better choices for drawing these characters.
Who would I recommend this to? Maybe someone who doesn’t have the nostalgic ties to the original show that I do, or if they do but are still curious what a fresh take would look like. Thus far it hasn’t committed the adaptation “sins” that IDW’s MASK has, but that might change starting next issue and with Simon Furman coming in. They might just be taking the first few episodes to get them into space and going off in a new direction. I’m curious but a little more wary than when I started. It’s good writing and not a bad adaptation of Robotech but I’m worried it’s still going to change what I liked about the original. Time will tell though.