Robotech: The New Generation #2
Comico The Comic Company (September, 1985)
“The Lost City”
ADAPTATION: Jack Herman
PENCILER: Dave Johnson
INKER: Tom Poston
COLORIST: Kurt Mausert
LETTERER: Bob Pinaha
EDITOR: Diana Schutz
Scott and Rand come upon a town with quite a few people leaving. There they meet Annie and her boyfriend, Ken. Ken is trying to send her away because the town hates outsiders, but when Scott mentions being part of the Robotech forces he escorts the duo to an island he claims they are, leaving Annie with them. It turns out to be a trap set by the Invid for soldiers and the three only survive with the help of a mystery woman on a customized red Cyclone. After telling the town and Ken what they think of him Annie joins Scott and Rand, and Scott finally tells them that Marlene died.
What they got right: With some minor changes that will be discussed both in the got wrong and what they changed sections, this is actually a pretty good adaptation. Annie’s introduction is handled well and the action translate well to the comic format.
What they got wrong: Among the changes just between cartoon and comic is the reveal that the rider is a woman and not a soldier comes a bit too early, ruining the reveal as the episode intended. The Invid individually talk which was never shown in the episode, only the Regis’ voice telling her troops to “eliminate them”. While both versions of the show attempt to show understanding as to why the town would set up this ambush while still chastising them for it, the comic has no sympathy whatsoever and they come off worse for it. Hindsight hits again in the US show as by now you’d think Scott knows what they look like outside of their mecha (and even then all we see is the green blood) as the REF has been fighting them for awhile. Here our more chatty mystery rider mentions “at least they can bleed” and that’s it.
What they changed: Surprisingly little between Mospeda and Robotech. (And yet somehow I have three paragraphs covering it.) Rand is of course more willing to join Scott but just doesn’t want to go into town (though he’s talked into it pretty fast when offered to show how the Cyclone battle mode works, something neither show version cared about, in the comic). Ray is still not “on the team” as it were and Stick is still insisting on his help, so Ray has to pretty much be dragged into the story. Annie’s name in the anime is “Mint”, a nickname she picks up later in the US version (for the purposes of these reviews, when I do have both shows to work with I’ll stick with Mint for the anime and Annie for the US version, ignoring the nickname), while Ken actually keeps his name. Even parts of the dialog are the same or at least similar within translation limitations and mouth movements, like Ray/Rand asking Ken to find them some food, or the kids in the back of the truck trying to warn them away (just with different lines) before being silenced by a man with them, something the comic version of the kids don’t even get a chance to do. The scene where Mint/Annie gets her clothes ripped down the back is a bit more revealing in the anime, which in later episodes I know doesn’t shy away from nudity. In this case though we don’t see Mint’s full breasts (more like very minor side cleavage when her overalls slide forward) so I’m assuming they’re close to the same age instead of Mint being a short adult. Even Japan has their limits, and stopping at a 13-year-old’s developing chest is beyond that limit. Thankfully. Earlier in the episode Mint threatens to flash them when Ray mistakes her for a boy but he stops her and she claims she was only kidding. This is of course missing from the original Robotech version of the episode and the comic but since the “Remastered Edition” is just the uncensored anime set to the Robotech audio (US and Japanese TV have different rules and both versions were intended for at least teens and up) I thought I should warn you if that’s the version you end up with. I don’t know if it’s there and I’m not even going to attempt to check for obvious reasons.
Also it’s a toss-up which soundtrack is better. There are times the Japanese music works better and times the American soundtrack is better. The Regis however is better in Japanese as she’s less shouty and easier to understand, even if I need the subtitles to tell me what the actual words are in the original Japanese. Then there’s the foreshadowing of how the Invid tracks the Mospeada/Cyclones. In the anime nothing points to it beyond the glowing engines, the Mospeada powered by something called HBT while the Cyclones are of course powered by Protoculture, which we are already told the Invid feed on. Still, the comic all but outright states it as the talking Invid and the Regiss both mention wanting the Cyclones for their Protoculture power source.
Rand does try to talk Scott out of punching that one townsman who get on Scott’s case in the US version while Ray doesn’t, but the comic doesn’t even have that, the townsman adding to the jerk factor by daring Scott to hit him because soldiers couldn’t stop the Invid. This is what I mean about the townspeople coming off less sympathetic, which goes against the theme of Mospeda and the Third Robotech War stories, about how being a conquered people trying to survive under masters they don’t think they can defeat affects them while Stick/Scott gathers others willing to fight back. Robotech and the three anime chosen to make it up are not just war stories but about the horrors of war, while Mospeada doesn’t deal with love as a theme nearly as strongly as Macross and Southern Cross. So any time the comic or even the US show gets this wrong I’ll bring it up…though sadly Funimation still has the US show behind their paywall while the anime is no longer available officially online for some odd reason. I only have a few early episodes on VHS so this section may be short-lived or return sporadically depending on what I can pull off as I go through the issues I have, which is also not the full series.
What did I think overall: Not a bad introduction to Annie and our mysterious rider, who gets named next issue/episode. If I had to choose which is the better version, I’d say both shows win. The mystery rider comes off more mysterious, the town gains a bit of sympathy given their situation but still called out for their cowardice in setting a soldier trap on behalf of the Invid (not the last time we’ll see this happen, either), but who has the better soundtrack varies from scene to scene between the anime and the rework. So on that front take your preference, but the comic isn’t terrible even if it isn’t as good as the originals.