The Sentinels Presents…Crystal World: Prisoners Of Spheris (A Worlds Of Robotech Book)
Academy Comics, Ltd. (June, 1996)
WRITERS/ARTISTS: John & Jason Waltrip
With Spheris, the world of rock people, still further down the Sentinels’ schedule they are unaware of Baldan and Teal’s fate. A young man named Shard wants to take the fight to the Invid but without a real plan, while the rulers believe they can simply wait the Invid out. Meanwhile, a boy named Beryl is pressured by his friends to sneak to the surface, where they’re caught in the middle of Shard’s group attacking the Invid. The kid is left behind and taken by the Invid. The lead scientist there puts the boy in the care of a cyborg Master. As a boy Beryl’s father was a servant of this Robotech Master, who despite the regime he worked for was actually not evil, and save the boy when the Invid attacked. His memories reawakened, the Master does the same for Beryl when Shard agrees to rescue him, and is again taken by the Invid to be reprogrammed.
What they got right: We get to learn quite a bit about the Spherian society and how they survive underground. We also get to see what the process of amalgamating into the rock (aka “malging” to the kids–we also learn “geode” is a kid’s insult) to travel through it actually looks like, something I haven’t seen in the Robotech comics I own where a Spherian uses the ability. Also, we learn it has limitations, like not being able to go through sand. What stands out for me is that the Robotech Master, Sorcen, may have had the young Coran as a servant during the Masters’ occupation but he and the boy actually became friends. That’s something a modern writer would be afraid to write, thinking it would be portraying something positive about slavery or a slave owner, which isn’t what they’re going for at all. The Masters were evil but Sorcen wasn’t, and he was just one of the Masters stationed by the guys in charge. It’s a layer today’s writers would be afraid to attempt for the wrong reasons.
What they got wrong: If malging through one of the light conduits damages it, why use it? The kids just go through the rock normally. Shard not only damages an important light source for the underground city but gives away that he went up there with a team to attack on their own in secret, a battle that ends up endangering the kids and leading to Beryl getting caught. Shard might not have known about the kids but he should have known to avoid the conduit. Unless that’s another limitation somehow or they went off course in the “crystal highway”, as Beryl’s friend calls it.
Recommendation: A pretty good story but one that will only make sense if you follow the Robotech series in general and The Sentinels specifically.