Yesterday I reviewed the last comic of Comico’s Robotech TV episode adaptations. So that’s it, right? No more Robotech to tell after the last war, right? Well…someone found a way. Before I get into that in the Monday installments of “Yesterday’s” Comic I need to break out a bit of history because Robotech: Aftermath is an odd little footnote in the franchise.
First let’s talk about Eternity Comics, a former imprint of Malibu Comics before Malibu was bought and shredded by Marvel for their advanced computer coloring process. Seems to be a lot of extra work, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were worried Malibu’s shared superhero universe, the Ultraverse, wasn’t a rival to stop from becoming a threat given the state of Marvel in the 1990s. Notice how they’re still fighting to keep the creators from getting their titles back to reboot on their own. You’d think Jim Shooter was behind the Ultraverse.
During Eternity’s run they had taken on the Robotech license. Comico had lost the license, having only produced the adaptations and one original graphic novel set during the SDF-1‘s first crash-landing on Earth (oddly not the last). Eternity however would produce original stories. Robotech II: The Sentinels was based on Carl Macek’s failed attempt to create a new Robotech show, which I was hoping to have done a video on by now but did review the comics both from Eternity and the company that took on the license after. Robotech: Return To Macross was set during the days before the Zentraedi came about. That same new company, Academy Comics, would continue both series and both companies had specials and miniseries coming off of it.
With past and something resembling the present having anchor titles (Return To Macross would get a spin-off title in the form of Academy Blues, focusing on Lisa and her friends and occasionally crossing over with Roy Fokker’s adventures in the other titles) the future needed to be represented as well. Enter Robotech: Aftermath, starting with Eternity and also traveling along to Academy Comics. Aftermath is a curious little monstrosity (I’m exaggerating) that we’ll be looking over in the next few weeks but this three part story from that series we’re looking at in this article also serves as the introduction of a new spin-off title for this period, Robotech: Clone. Aftermath (full title Invid War: Aftermath) meanwhile is actually two different series under one title, bouncing between “Belmont”, a city where the survivors of humanity struggle to rebuild after the Invid Occupation, and “Megaroad”, a group of travelling survivors. Our heroes are split between the two groups, with various philosophies on what to do next dividing the former allies and friends. It’s here where this three issue story takes place. Rather than review the three stories in their separate issues like I’ve been doing with trades I thought I’d use this to introduce to you all our new titles for the next whatever, Aftermath and Clone. I just told you about Aftermath but this is where Clone (later Robotech: Mordecai) begins so let’s meet this group of….people together. This intro is long enough.
Robotech: The Threadbare Heart
(contains issues #7-9, the first three issues of Academy’s run)
Academy Comics, Ltd (April, 1995)
WRITER: Rosearik Rikki
ARTIST: Tavista Wolfgarth
Remember that the Academy comics only had colors on the cover. However, no colorist is credited, though it could be Wolfgarth herself for this cover.
Chapter one begins with two mecha engaged in battle with no real explanation for us. Maybe it continues after the previous issue or something, We also see Lancer and an adult Annie (she later says she’s 23 so if we consider she was around 13 during the Third Robotech War that puts us 10 years give or take since the Invid’s departure) watching the battle. Wait…it’s been around 10 years and they’re still looking for something to replace Protoculture? I thought that just ran the mecha. You’d figured some forms of energy, even ones that couldn’t power robotechnology, would still have been rediscovered. Heck, even if we’re going by “let’s not use fossil fuels for environmental reasons” logic (this comic was made in 1994 after all) you’ve got nothing in 10 years?
Anyway, they had come to introduce their new “breeder batteries” (I guess fusion was okay) to a neighboring village to Belmont (I’m assuming this is a nod to Yellow Dancer’s original Japanese name, Yellow Belmont) until they stumbled upon the battle. Lancer comes up with a plan and now even Annie can use a Cyclone. However she’s also been sick and sore lately, so Lancer isn’t too questioning when she notices “a clown and a mummy” observing them. It’s the pair from the cover and this is just a reused panel of the “clown” dancing with the “mummy” without the latter showing any sign of awareness. This is not the weirdest thing you’ll see in this period.
Nor is Annie collapsing and her ghost watching Lancer try to get her to wake up. She also somehow notices that there’s a tumor near her heart, later blamed on protoculture exposure. When did this happen compared to anyone else? In one of the previous six issues? That time the Regiss took over her body to talk trash to Scott and Rand? Oh but it gets weirder as another spirit begs for help, talking about someone attacking her “inner eye”. Just thinking about going down a chasm the other spirit points to causes her to teleport down there, and then into one of the mecha, surprising the pilot. Annie returns to her body and tells Lancer about the tumor. Annie’s distraction also allows the person the mecha pilot was aiming at to get the drop on her opponent.
Wearing a circular backpack and armor reminiscent of the Southern Cross troops, the woman tells Lancer that Annie needs to be protected because she is special and something called the “Mordecai Mind” may “lash her inner eye until she is blind” before running off because the “IHE” is here. Then other troops attack, knocking both Lancer and Annie out. The mecha pilots, some dude and more clown girls (what is it with comics and evil clowns?) show up to take them to Assent City for questioning. Confused yet? Just you wait, readers. That’s these two series in a nutshell. We won’t even meet the Protoculture Spider until Clone proper.
Annie has a dream of the “clown” that was watching them forcing the “mummy” (yes, this will be explained and yes, you will still have questions) to break a skull using the power of her inner eye. She wakes up apparently with the tumor gone but no surgical scar. (Looks down at his belly and gets jealous.) After she puts on new clothes, probably the first time Annie’s worn a dress since her failed engagement to the jungle boy, she exits the room as the man, who later identifies himself as Gilles Vaudell, is talking to two others about the “Mordecai Mind” needing to produce more antimatter so they can get off the ground when he spots Annie, making the mistake of yelling at her for leaving her room. Our Annie didn’t take guff at 13 and she hasn’t mellowed at 23, telling him off. The other two talk about “making another” and just bump her off but he turns the plan down. Annie appears to be a bit smitten and confused about this guy.
Gilles is the “sovereign doctor” of the Immuno Heredity Enigma or “IHE” (pronounced “eye”) and he is taking her to be interrogated. He also shows her they have their own Super Dimensional Fortress, the Mordecai. Yes, they apparently can build a super dimensional fortress. Makes you wonder why the Starchildren over at the Before The Invid Storm novel were having so much trouble.
Outside a frog is killed by a scorpion. If you know the old story you can guess there’s some symbolism here. When you figure out what it means, please tell me. The scorpion is stepped on and killed by the mummy, who finds Lancer trying to reach Lunk back at Belmont. Lunk tells Lancer the veritech they have will be coming and turns to who I assume is going to be the pilot. After the communication is done our weird pair approaches Lancer along with the armored woman we later learn is Gilles’ wife Demont. The other two are her clones as was the “spleen” they were fighting, using another clone as a pilot to track her down. As a certain teacher would say, seatbelts, everyone!
Okay, so the IHE has a virus that can fix whatever ails you…by destroying all your organs except the brain, even restoring dead brain cells–insert Congress joke here–and then rebuilds them all. I’m no doctor but…WHAT? Oh, and apparently if you don’t do your service for the group they’ll take it all back. Remember that these will be the heroes of Robotech: Clone. All of this is told between Gilles talking to Annie and Demont talking to Lancer (when “clown”…can we get some names for these two?…doesn’t interrupt). So they have cloning and a virus that restores your body by first destroying it. No, we still aren’t at the really weird stuff yet. Worried? I should also note that Demont being one of the IHE founders and the alpha for the spleen pilots and our dancing pair gives her a huge ego. Oh this is going to be fuuuuuuuun.
Oh, this is the part that will blow your mind. Gilles tells Annie that Demont was hiding a condition in the health cells she returned for the cloning process but Demont says the Mordecai Mind framed her by creating “clown”, aka Vaudell-Sync. So we have a name. Not much of a name but that’s par for the course. It seems Sync’s organs keep failing, so…here we go…she made a clone of herself, the “mummy”, and she uses her organs to replace hers. Or sometimes just for fun. Amazing how the healthiest people are the sickest ones mentally. I wonder if that’s symbolism, too? Oh, and Demont can read minds because she’s possessed by protoculture. This comic has an…interesting take on protoculture that borders on the fantastic. When “I can use flower power to affect evolution” is part of your description of protoculture I guess the door was open but I’m pretty sure a mack truck wasn’t needed to go through. And why did it do this? The Mordecai Mind is a clone of Gilles and she wouldn’t hook up with a clone of her husband so he tried to do her in and now she’s running. Yep, these two paragraphs are things that happen in this story.
Also, this society has somehow been around since before the first war. I guess nobody told the RDF in Return To Macross and I am okay with this. How they created a giant shield to hide them through all three wars is up there with building your own SDF and all this other insanity. That’s going to be a running issue with these two comics. It doesn’t feel that much like a Robotech story despite the occasional appearance of mecha. The tone is all wrong, Scott on the Megaroad crew because he failed to find Admiral Hunter and apparently having a difference of opinion with the others who don’t join in is also a factor, but it’s all this strange science fantasy stuff added in that pulls me out of it.
And here’s where I’m going to stop, as I’m nearing the 2000 count and I don’t remember what else is coming but it’s going to be crazy. Join us tomorrow for the conclusion of The Threadbare Heart, a most unusual phase of the adventure of Robotech.