Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
In the last chapter of Robotech, Dana Sterling and member of the 15th won the race and are now taking the refugees of the Second Robotech War home, leaving behind Nova, Louie, Colonel’s Wolff and Carpenter…and a bunch of people I frankly don’t care about. We still have two chapters and epilogue to see what happens to them before the Invid kill them all. Won’t that be fun?
I sound harsher than I intend. So far the story has been good as a whole, just with a few nitpicks I wish the writer hadn’t done. So let’s get into this chapter and see the beginning of the fallout of Dana’s latest scheme.
An interesting idea happens at the usual blurbs from fake biographies and reports section of this chapter. In a biography about the destruction of Reflex Point, Catherine is interviewed about her husband’s betrayal, as seen in the episode (and comic adaptation) “Eulogy”. I’m kind of surprised that she found out. Mostly I’m surprised anyone knew outside of Scott, Rand, and the other members of that group. Did they tell the soldiers at the city what he was doing? Did one of the intended victims actually survive? Luceno also tries to give Wolff something of an out by stating the Invid had her and Johnny prisoner, as if they were using his estranged wife and son to make Wolff take part in this plan. This is the kind of thing that never really works for me, like blaming Hal Jordan going crazy on a creature made of the yellow fear energy. It’s a retcon in which the writer is trying to tone down the fallen hero rather than let them take responsibility for their failings. In Hal’s case it was the result of DC editorial making bad decisions even before DiDio showed up, but in Wolff’s case it was a result of circumstances.
In the episode, originally Jonathan Wolff’s solo appearance, we learned he was this big time squad leader, a squad that a young Scott Bernard was a part of. This is because of Wolff’s Japanese counter part in Genesis Climber MOSPEADA being a war hero of some kind. (It’s been a while since I’ve watched the episode in subtitled Japanese.) So they worked that in. For Robotech II: The Sentinels Carl Macek planned on using Wolff as one of the characters, which the comics and novels went along with even when doing their own thing. He’s since been expanded on as a hero of the First War, missing the Second to be part of the events in the Local Group during the Sentinels material that’s been presented, and thus we see more of his troubled time with the REF. I guess that’s why Luceno opted to try to soften his fall, with Catherine forgiving him and convince he was actually waiting for the right moment, something that is part of his plan here. I’m not so convinced. The town gets destroyed, or at least it’s implied the Invid are about to trash the place at the end of the episode after Bernard’s team leaves, so why leave her and presumably Johnny alive? I understand why you tried but honestly it raises a lot of questions and feels like it doesn’t provide the character any positive boost in the long run.
The chapter itself is really just a trial, mostly Fredricks trying to get Wolff to admit everything we already know about his part in the 15th taking the Homeward Bound and Wolff (sometimes aided by his lawyer) dancing around it without looking like he’s dancing around it. We also learn that to hide the GMP’s attack on the Starchildren, and this is the only time they’ve been any real use in this story beyond existing, they had to “forgive” Vincinz with a lesser charge and couldn’t go after the Shimada. This all feels academic to me as the reader as I’m just wondering how many of these characters get wiped out by the Invid. We just learned Catherine and Johnny survived, and we know Wolff survives long enough to meet Scott’s team, but unless Luceno (and I don’t know what plans he had with his McKinney penname writing partner before his untimely passing) was planning or actually made stories set during the Invid attack do any of these character matter? The show indicated was swift and with little resistance followed by a failed attempt at reclaiming Earth that Lancer was a part of and the later reinforcements from Tirol that Scott was the only survivor of that kicked off the final war. So what role do the Shimadas even have when the “Invid Storm” begins? Or the Starchildren, who don’t even have much of a role in this story? Or Nova, the only likable member of the GMP, the supposedly also left behind Louie (who actually shows up in The Shadow Chronicles but that was made well after this book), or the comic characters Terry and Misa, the latter of whom broke up with Terry to date a Starchildren member pretty much out of nowhere off-page?
My point is…outside of the two characters I like (or used to until Louie tried to manipulate Dana) and the two others I’m supposed to like besides Wolff because of their extended universe appearances, I just don’t care about any of them. I know they’re toast. I know their story is practically over and it’s not like the results of the Regiss’s invasion is going to change because of anything here. And we still have one more chapter and an epilogue to go through. I guess be with us next time for the last full chapter as we continue the remainder of this tale in the odyssey of Robotech.