Robotech Trade Week continues as we look at the other trade in my collection, and this one is actually a tie-in to a canon work if not canon itself. I had hoped to review this alongside the actual movie but as of right now I haven’t even gotten to Robotech II: The Sentinels because video production has been frozen for sadly too long. And yet I just got another YouTube subscriber recently so I really need to get a move on there.
Robotech: Prelude To The Shadow Chronicles sets up events of the 2006 animated direct-to-video movie Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. I don’t know if this comic is canon but going in it has a few obstacles, something the movie also had. For one thing, which version of The Sentinels do you go with, the Waltrip Brothers comics or the Jack McKinney novels? Which does Harmony Gold consider canon? I don’t know how much of the failed show Carl Macek had come up with, though five episodes were produced before backstage problems hit and thus Robotech II: The Sentinels does have a movie release. This comic wasn’t produced by Academy Comics but WildStorm, who seemed to ignore all comics prior to their run, be it Eternity/Academy or Antarctic Press. It also came out after Macek’s passing (there’s even a dedication) so we don’t know what into they have. That means going in all we know for sure they’re using are the show, whatever notes Macek had (he did serve as a consultant before his death in 2010) but ask George Lucas how that sometimes goes.
So understand I do have continuity questions going into this. Additionally there will be spoilers for the novel we’re currently reading for Chapter By Chapter, Robotech: Before The Invid Storm, but it’s not like you don’t know this is going to happen. Still, if you want to wait, that’s fine. I’m going to try to squeeze this into one article so if you’re reading this sentence you know I succeeded. If not, well you wouldn’t know this was here anyway, would you? 😀
Robotech: Prelude To The Shadow Chronicles
STORY: Tommy Yune
SCRIPT: Jason Waltrip and John Waltrip, who never got to finish their series and we don’t know what they were instructed to go by.
LETTERER: Travis Lanham
MAIN ARTIST: Omar Dogan
CHAPTER 4 & 5
PENCILS & INKS: Jason & John Waltrip on some pages, Dogan on others, Tommy Yune with two pages on chapter 5
COLORIST: Miguel Troncosco
EDITORS: Kristy Quinn & Ben Abernanthy
Ah, one question answered. With the Waltrips writing I guess they opted to go with the Eternity/Academy sequence of events as this starts right where Academy’s Robotech II: The Sentinels ended, with Lynn Kyle dead trying to rescue Minmei only to get killed by T.R. Edwards. However, Rick’s team (the Sentinels) shouldn’t be here and yet they are. Edwards reaches the Invid Brain he’s been holding and uses it to revive the Inorganics, which he already did before killing Kyle so apparently we have the same continuity gaffs here that plagued the movie. Still, they show up after Edwards escapes and find Kyle’s body, with little surprise shown that he’s here. I guess we’ll never know how he got here. The Invid show up and blast the REF while Edwards launches his shadow fighters on the heroes to cover his escape. This includes damaging the SDF-3 and Lisa gets hurt in the blast. Kidnapping his ex and knocking out his wife. Edwards may have had a beef against Roy Fokker that he took out on Rick, but Rick’s going to be the revenge seeker on this one.
After the Inorganics are presumably dealt with, Dr. Lang and Janice Em go over the data left behind by Edwards. Apparently Janice has opted to resume her human shape. The movie’s creators didn’t really consult with the comic. Now the council is aware of the length of Edwards’ betrayal and they seek their non-human allies for help. Veidt offers the advanced technical knowledge of the Haydonites while L’Ron offers the advanced engineering of the Karbarrans. One guy asks Jack (who appears to be a more seasoned soldier, in line with where he was in the movie but not in the Sentinels comic) if they can trust the Sentinels and he assures him they can. He mentions that the worlds were liberated, another change I think. Granted it’s been a while since I’ve read the Sentinels comics but I’m pretty sure there were a couple of worlds left.
Meanwhile, Rick gets some bad news from Jean. Lisa will recover…but they lost the baby. Because of course they lost the baby. Heaven forbid they don’t add that bit of tragedy. I’m surprised Dana still has a little sister after all this given Miriya had her own “almost lost the baby” story in the Sentinels comics.
One year passes and Vince is given a ship to go after Edwards, the SDF-3 coming to join them when the work on it is done, ending chapter one. The book also contains technical data on the mecha seen at the end of each chapter. Whether this was also part of the individual issues I really couldn’t say.
Chapter two starts with a side by side dialog, Edwards talking about being the next Caesar or something and Vince stating that his group and the Zentraedi have finally tracked him down on Optera, the Invid homeworld. The planet is decimated, without even an atmosphere (so somebody tell me how the Invid Flower Of Life started re-growing there, as we saw at the end of the original series? The Invid, some strange craft they don’t recognize, and Edwards are all waiting for them. I’m sure the cake is poisoned though.
Back on Tirol the SDF-3 is nearly ready and retrofitted with the “shadow technology” that can hide a mecha’s protoculture frequency, effectively blinding them to the Invid’s sensors. However, Veidt wonders what offensive uses Edwards has found for them. Also helping on the project, and this is that novel spoiler I mentioned, is Louie, meaning that the heroes of the Second Robotech War must have arrived, or else Louie never told us he was Louie Nichols Jr. I should also note that the dialog attempts to give Lang a German accent but the way it’s written my brain keeps making it Jamaican. No, I don’t know why. Also, Doctor Zand is mentioned in passing, a reference that only hardcore fans would get, though he does cameo later. Anyone else is asking “who?” and I’m not sure it even matters to name drop him.
We see Jack is now in command of Wolf Squadron, so the question is when was Wolff shipped back to Earth? Given some of his mistakes I can’t say I’m surprised, but given that Louie is here and Wolff isn’t I have to wonder when events occurred? Come ot think of it, back in chapter one it looked like Jack was already Wolf Pack commander, but John was still there when Sentinels ended. See what I mean about the continuity confusion?
Battle is joined but Edwards surprises everyone and betrays the Invid, using his shadow tech to hide his cannon’s energy signature, which he uses to fire on the REF ship and then the Invid, allegedly killing the Regent but we know he has his own batch of clones. Clones are in around these parts. Edwards leaves as Vince’s ship goes down. For some reason Karen isn’t a pilot anymore but is sitting in the communications position, keeping communication established with Jack. I don’t mind him getting a promotion but for Karen wouldn’t this be a demotion? She likes being out there in her mecha. That was a big source of contention between her and her father.
Here’s a badass moment that will make you get this comic. I’m not even going to show you images. Chapter three starts with the distress call being sent out and of course trouble with the escape pods on one side of the ship. Jean comes to force Vince to abandon ship but he stays behind to keep the ship on a decent enough pitch, and once everyone’s off uses a Cyclone to burst out of the ship and into one of the shuttles. The armor is hot, which Vince uses to flirt with Jean. Yeah, keep telling me awesome black characters only started with Black Panther. I should mention that the art in this book not only resembles the movie and it’s altered character designs but is a thing of beauty to behold. I’m writing this before adding images and I hope I’m doing them some kind of justice. As the ship looks for survivors a new Invid mecha grabs onto the shuttle.
We get a calmer moment as Rick tends to Lisa and Janice gets a new body, enhanced by the Haydonites. If you’ve seen the movie you know this is not a good thing. Also, Emil has a beard now. Okay. The SDF-3 arrives at Space Station Liberty, where Rick is introduced to Louie. No sign of Dana and the others. He gives Rick a tour of all the new ships while the bridge picks up Vince’s distress signal.
On Optera, Edwards brings Vince to brag about taking out the Regent and assuming control of his stuff while ranting that the human race shouldn’t mix with aliens and become the dominant lifeform in the galaxy. Again we have a reference to Supreme Commander Leonard’s own xenophobia because the comics have to make sure we remember he was one of the bad guys. At least this is actually in keeping with Leonard’s depiction, unlike some versions I could mention. I didn’t think the soldiers were supposed to be robots but at one point we see him control one when showing off how he plans to take on the Regiss, using her own Genesis Pits to make anyone not loyal to him into his evolutionary monstrosities under his control. Presumably this is the plan for Vince’s crew but then the SDF-3 arrives, with Rick leading the charge and demanding Edwards alive. It’s kind of cool to see Rick, even this altered-for-licensing-and-age design, wearing Cyclone armor.
Chapter 4 starts with a bit of Edwards’s backstory, the woman he loved being killed presumably during a Zentraedi attack and the reason for his hatred of aliens. His hatred of Roy, passed on to Rick, is not shown. In the present the Invid mecha are taking a beating at the hands of the shadow fighters. Vince tries to convince Edwards to stand down, as they need those men and mecha to handle the Invid. Edwards almost gets to mention the Haydonites as a threat but Vince unknowingly cuts him off (plus he’s probably tired of Edwards’ xenophobic ranting as it is) and makes the mistake of pushing the “Hunter” button so even if Edwards was about to see reason he won’t now.
Jack is shot down but Janice arrives on a Cyclone. Why Janice and not Karen? She should be here making a joke at his expense or something. Again, why is she not acting as a pilot? The good guys make into the Hive and find Zand. Rick forces him to take him to Minmei, locked in some kind of tube. Soon Rick’s team heads for the control chamber where Edwards tries to send an army of his Genesis Pit monsters on the group, Edwards going on about Rick leaving him behind when the Zentraedi attacked Alaska base. Guys, it is way too late to retcon a sympathy angle into Edwards’ backstory. Please stop. Suddenly Minmei comes up to him but it’s a trick by Janice to get close. It’s also the last time Minmei will matter in this story. Somehow realizing after kissing him (I just review here) that Edwards is in control of the Invid Brain she tells Rick to shoot the darn thing. Janice appears to have been destroyed in the explosion but Edwards emerges from the Pit as a monster. Well, at least he now looks like he acts.
Janice is also alive, using what remains of her body as a homing signal for the Fortress’s cannon, uploading herself to the new body on the ship. Edwards is blown up for good, and in orbit are found dead Invid ships. It’s finally over but the recovery of Earth from the Regiss. Lisa decides to step down and leave leadership to Rick. Before they were co-admirals but like Karen it seems she’s gotten a demotion, though this time it’s self-inflicted. Still, even I’m questioning why two of the best female characters and Minmei are barely part of this story. Janice is a robot programmed as feminine so that’s the best you’ve got? Stop making me sound like a feminist!
At a meeting of the Plenipotentiary Council we start moving closer to what we saw at the end of the Third War. Mentioned is Sue arriving on Earth, the use of the Neutron S missiles, which Edwards had on Tirol so it’s more of his tech being used, and how using them will be strictly last-minute to protect…wait, there are other Earth colonies in Robotech? We also get cameos from Rem and Cabal, Dana finally shows up to ignore her now adult sister for reasons not made clear, and we meet a few more characters from the movie. We also confirm this is indeed Louie when he tells Vince about serving in the 15th with Bowie. So when did the Second War heroes arrive? In the novel review they haven’t left yet and we haven’t gotten to the comic where they arrived which probably isn’t canon to this story because the Waltrips didn’t work on it and it was an Antarctic Press comic. We’re doing the weird continuity again.
At the testing area Veidt says something odd: “Compared to the size of the universe, a megameter is nothing, a mere…shadow in the vastness of space and time.” The emphasis is from Veidt’s dialog. There are concerns about how dangerous these weapons actually are, shades of the old A-Bomb tests. The test begins to see just how much power the missiles have but work on dismantling another of the warheads is halted when it causes a gravitational field. The scientist tries to halt the test but it’s too late. A high gravitational force is cause and the SDF-3 attempts to fold out of it, Exedor (I think) warning that this signals the return of Haydon. For those of you who missed the Sentinel comic reviews, Haydon was responsible for a lot of the events that unfolded in the Local Group directly or indirectly and may have been responsible for the SDF-1 going to Earth. However, in the Sentinel comics he was treated as mostly benevolent, but this almost makes him sound more dangerous. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie, and I still plan to do a video review, but this is a change from how the Waltrips presented him in the past.
The story ends on Earth, after the war and before the start of the movie. Ariel, not being called Marlene outside of a flub by Annie, senses what’s coming…and she’s concerned.
How to judge this book? In some ways, knowing what happens in the show and especially in the Waltrip brother’s previous Robotech comic series is certainly beneficial to the reader. There are parts that will seriously confuse newcomers to the larger lore the previous comics created. On the other hand it sometimes goes against established events, which was also a mistake by the movie, while also bridging the gap between The Sentinels as the Waltrips wrote it and The Shadow Chronicles. The artwork is beautiful (though I wish some of the mecha outside of the fighter jets were easier to see) and in keeping with the equally amazing art and animation of the movie, which I do recommend. Unfortunately the movie is hard to find as Funimation still has the series and all the movies behind their paywall but I do own the DVD and it’s recommended watching. The movie is really good despite the continuity faults and making Veidt’s people the new enemy when they were allies for so long and their story in the Waltrip’s Sentinels comic kind of gets ruined by this reveal. I don’t know why they went that route. The comic is also very good, with the same caveats. It’s not quite the continuation and wrapping up of Robotech II: The Sentinels I wanted, and there are still questions as to why Dana is not speaking to her sister when she was looking forward to meeting her and seeing her parents again elsewhere, and when they arrived in the continuity but overall it’s a good read with great visuals…and probably the only conclusion we’re going to now.