Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #1 (of 5)
"Part One: The Enemy Within"
Story - Tommy Yune
Script - Jason & John Waltrip
Art - Omar Dogan @ Udon Studios
Letters - Travis Lanham
Asst. Editor - Kristy Quinn
Editor - Ben Abernathy
Published by WildStorm Productions, an imprint of DC Comics.
Release date - October 5, 2005
Cover date - December 2005
Diamond order number - AUG05 0265
Estimated sales - 11,735 copies
THE STORYThe SDF-3 Pioneer orbits the occupied moon of Tirol, the former homeworld of the Robotech Masters. On the surface, Robotech Expeditionary Force Garfish-class cruisers patrol the skies and infantry on foot and mounted on Cyclones sweep the streets of Tiresia, the former capital of the Masters' empire, searching for a traitor.
The door to the Expeditionary Force council chamber is kicked open by a military police officer. "Find and detain General Edwards!" Vice Admiral Rick Hunter shouts from the back as the police sweep the room. Dr. Jean Grant directs Rick's attention to a dead body in the middle of the room. When they take a closer look, Rick notices the uniform coloration matches Edwards's own Ghost Squadron. "Why would Edwards kill one of his own men?" Rick wonders aloud.
An alert on all military channels goes out ordering the arrest of General Edwards. In the catacombs beneath the city, Edwards listens with some interest. "Unit 5 proceeding to Edwards's compound. Units 3 and 9, secure the landing field. He may be trying to make a run for it!" However, Edwards isn't ready to run yet; he taps a button on a nearby console, activating the Invid Brain seized during the Expeditionary Force's counter-invasion of Tirol.
Back in the council chamber, Rick turns the dead Ghost Squadron pilot over and is shocked to see that it's Lynn Kyle, Minmei's cousin. Jean asks what he's doing on Tirol, but Rick worries that if Kyle was here, Minmei probably was as well.
A team of REF soldiers arrives at Edwards's compound and begins to report no sign of the General, when the ground begins to rumble. Before they know it, Invid Inorganics are tearing through the streets; it's an ambush!
The military police report to Rick that there's no sign of anyone here. "You can add murder and kidnapping to the charges against Edwards," Rick says. Jean is surprised that Edwards would resort to something like this. "After being left in charge of captured alien technology for years, I don't think he welcomed the decision to hand authority back over to Dr. Lang. I suspect he was concerned that we would discover--" Rick is cut off by reports of battle with Inorganics at Edwards's compound.
"That should keep them busy for a while," Edwards tells one of his subordinates. "That's our signal to go."
Rick, Jean, and the military police run outside just in time to see an experimental REF battlecruiser tear forth from Edwards's compound. Rick orders someone to get him Commander Vince Grant on the comm, to have him meet them at the landing field. "And notify the SDF-3 in orbit. Tell them to scramble their Veritechs to intercept!"
Aboard Edwards's Icarus, Minmei assures Edwards that Rick will have him shot out of the sky. "With you on board? You two must have had quite a falling out." Edwards tells her to sit tight, and that Hunter certainly can't shoot what he can't see.
Rick, Vince, and Jean pursue Edwards with the Tokugawa. Vince tells Rick that the ground forces have contained the Inorganics, but they can't get a lock on Edwards's ship, as it doesn't appear on their scanners. Rick sees that it's headed straight for the SDF-3. "We have to warn Lisa!"
Aboard the SDF-3, Admiral Lisa Hayes-Hunter assures her worried husband that Wolf Squadron is heading to intercept the Icarus. Wolf Leader Jack Baker radios the Admiral with confirmation of visual contact. "Try to force them down, Baker! Disable the vessel if you can, but do not destroy it! He may have a hostage aboard."
As the Icarus escapes the atmosphere, Edwards is given news that Alpha Fighers are closing to intercept. Edwards orders the launch of the Shadow Fighters. The Alphas close in. Jack orders his men to target the Icarus's engines and use guns only. "We want to bring them down in one piece, not pieces!" Wolf Two, Lt. Daryl Taylor, notes that he can't target the engines with his scanners. "You can see 'em, can't you? Just follow my lead!" As Jack prepares to fire a warning shot across the bridge, the Alpha to his immediate right explodes. Taylor tells Jack that he's got incoming missiles, but Jack can't see them on his scope. As one whizzes past, he radios the squadron to tell them to switch to visual, that their scanners are useless against Edwards's new fighters. "Break formation! Take evasive maneuvers now!" The Shadow Fighters rip the Wolf Squadron to shreds. Taylor's canopy shatters and he's forced to eject. As his Alpha explodes, Jack swings around and switches to Guardian to rescue him. "Wolf Leader to SDF-3, we are unable to intercept the bogeys! Do you copy? They're using some kind of cloaking device, so we can't get a weapons lock! I've lost eight ... nine fighters! We're getting wiped out here!"
Back on the SDF-3, Lisa orders Wolf Squadron to break off their attack and return to base. Asking Rick to forgive her, Lisa orders the firing of the main gun. All of a sudden, a Shadow Fighter appears before the bridge. Lisa quickly orders shields up, but the barrage knocks her off her feet. A bridge tech tells her the reflex cannon will be charged in fifteen seconds, but there's a fold disturbance in sector three. "Invid carrier defolding!" Lisa recognizes the ship -- it's the Invid Regent's flagship! "They're targeting the reflex cannon!" Before Lisa can get an order out, the Invid carrier's claw-hands open up and annihilate the SDF-3's main gun.
Aboard the Tokugawa, Rick Hunter screams in horror. As the Icarus and the Invid Regent's ship fold away, Rick orders Vince to get him to the SDF-3 immediately with a rescue team to check for survivors.
Shortly, Rick sits beside Lisa's bed in the SDF-3's sick bay. Vince reports that the SDF-3 is in bad shape. "There's extensive structural damage and the feedback from the reflex cannon overloaded nearly every relay on the ship and wiped out the fold drives, too. She's not going anywhere for a while, against Edwards, the Regent, or even back to Earth. We're stuck here." Vince notices that Rick doesn't seem to be paying attention, but he is. He's just ... tired.
Back on Tiresia, in the burned-out compound of T.R. Edwards, Dr. Emil Lang, the android Janice, and former Zentraedi Domillan Exedore are investigating the General's computer records. Janice tells the two that Edwards wasn't very thorough in deleting his backups. "According to this, Edwards has developed a form of stealth technology that masks the energy signature of a vessel from detection with some kind of transdimensional shift." Lang is surprised to hear this, as his former colleague Dr. Lazlo Zand assured him that fourth-dimensional reconfiguration was impossible. "But he didn't accomplish this alone," Janice remarks. "He was assisted by some technology he acquired from the Invid." Exedore is appalled. Lang asks Janice if she can make anything else out, but the rest of the data is incomplete, making it impossible for them to reproduce the technology.
At the Expeditionary Force Council chambers, Lang tells the council how Edwards seized the Invid Brain during the Expeditionary Force's initial battle against the Invid on Tirol. Rick is flabbergasted by the fact that as Edwards shouted down the council for its involvement with alien races he was conspiring with the Regent. "Apparently those anomalous signals we've been picking up over the last few months were from Edwards communicating with the Regent," Vince adds. General Gunther Reinhardt is astounded. "Edwards has always been a xenophobe!" he remarks. "Why would he then collude with the very enemy he fought against?" Rick says it's because Edwards has no faith in the council, and believes he's the only one who can protect the Earth, and the only way to do that is by destroying all potential enemies. Reinhardt asks how Edwards got the Shadow Technology. "We don't know," Rick says. "Dr. Lang's team is working on it now." Reinhardt turns to an assembled group of figures at the end of the council table, the Sentinels. "This betrayal is not and should not be representative of our race as a whole. We came to this region of space to make peace with the Robotech Masters. To help them--and you--in the struggle against the Invid, who threaten us all. Now we need your help." The Haydonite Veidt, hovering at the fore, tells Reinhardt that the Sentinels are prepared to help the REF in whatever fashion is necessary. He offers the Haydonites' assistance to Dr. Lang's team researching General Edwards's Shadow Technology, while the Karbarran L'Ron offers the shipbuilding might of his people in reconstructing the SDF-3 and building any additional ships necessary. Reinhardt accepts their aid on behalf of the REF. Watching from the sidelines, Lt. Taylor asks Jack Baker if they can trust these new aliens. "They've been fighting the Invid longer than we have," Jack tells him. "Their homeworlds have just recently been liberated. Their experience and knowledge can come in pretty handy when we take on the Regent again."
With the meeting over, Rick finds Jean and asks her how Lisa is. Jean says that she's been moved to the base infirmary due to all the power fluctuations aboard the SDF-3, but he shouldn't worry. "She's going to recover," Jean assures him. "Thank God for that," Rick says. "You know, I was looking forward to Lisa finally resigning her commission after she found out that she was pregnant, and none too soon it seems. You really can't be an Admiral and a ... mother ..." Rick notices the look on Jean's face. Jean tells him that Lisa lost the baby. As the words reach his ears, Rick's legs start to give way ...
One year passes. A bottle of champagne shatters against the hull of the retrofitted Tokugawa. At a docking facility in Tirolian orbit, Rick shakes Vince's hand and grants him command of the ship. He turns to the assembled crewmen and thanks the Karbarrans for their support. Turning back to Vince, Rick tells him to be careful. "There's no telling what Edwards and the Regent have been doing all this time, but we've got to find out and stop them as soon as possible. I would prefer to send you on this mission with more than this ship, but as soon as the SDF-3 is finished ..." Vince tells Rick not to worry, that with Breetai's Zentraedi forces at his side that shouldn't be a problem. "We're going to get him, Rick. I promise."
NOTESTIMELINE - Modern Robotech.com timeline.
- Rick Hunter (last seen in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #12)
- Lisa Hunter (last seen in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #12, next in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #3)
- Lynn Minmei (last seen in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #13, next in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #4)
- Lynn Kyle (last seen in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #13, final appearance)
- Dr. Emil Lang (last seen in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #13)
- Exedore (last seen in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #12, next in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #5)
- Vince Grant (last seen in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #13)
- Dr. Jean Grant (last seen in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #9, next in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #3)
- Jack Baker (last seen in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #13)
- Janice Em (last seen in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #12)
- T.R. Edwards (last seen in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #13)
- Veidt (last seen in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #13)
- L'Ron (last seen in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #12, next in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #5)
- Daryl Taylor (first chronological & published appearance, next in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #4)
- Gunther Reinhardt (first chronological appearance, next in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #5)
Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles opens with a giant tease for fans of Jason & John Waltrip's Robotech II: The Sentinels. While it is soon revealed that most of the players have been shuffled about, not to mention the order of events, T.R. Edwards is right where readers of the canceled Academy Comics series last saw him in December 1996, making his escape from Tirol in the wake of, I suppose, Dr. Emil Lang revealing to the Expeditionary Force that he's a traitor. Then again, it is never explicitly mentioned how Edwards was revealed as a traitor; the brief flashback is very vague, only showing a slamming gavel, a blast from a Mars Gallant H-90, a shrieking Minmei, and a falling Lynn Kyle. For all we know, it could have been Edwards's own trial, and not, as depicted in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #11-12, the trial of other, loyal REF personnel engineered by a scheming T.R. Edwards. Also, bear in mind that while the events alluded to in these panels happened in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #12-13, as #13 opened Edwards had already unleashed the Invid Inorganics on Tiresia at the suggestion of the Invid Regent, to much greater effect.
When Rick Hunter was last seen in The Sentinels, he was captaining the Haydonite flagship Ark Angel. His wife Lisa was at his side, and Janice Em was on the bridge. L'Ron was also aboard. Jack Baker was last seen aboard a Haydonite shuttle craft controlled by Veidt over the planet Spheris. Jean Grant was left behind on Haydon IV with the Sterlings to tend to a pregnant Miriya. Dr. Lang, Exedore, and Vince were all on Tirol, at the trial where Edwards was revealed as a turncoat.
Visual nods to the original Sentinels include the appearance of Rick and Jean in the Haydonite armored uniforms given to the Sentinels in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #9 (incorrectly drawn in the early pages, but fixed by their final appearance on page 16), the use of the original psuedo-Zentraedi SDF-3 design until its destruction (colored, for once, to match the original Sentinels animation), and the appearance of Lynn Kyle in a gray Sentinels-era REF uniform. However:
A) While Rick was last seen wearing the Haydonite armored uniform, Jean was never seen wearing one, though she was probably given one (Max and Miriya are last seen wearing the discs that activate the armored uniforms, but never activate them since they decide not to rejoin the Sentinels).
B) The SDF-3, despite looking like the old ship on the outside, now has a spacious bridge identical to General Reinhardt's SDF-4 as opposed to the familiar confined SDF-1-style bridge described in the McKinney novels and drawn by the Waltrips throughout Robotech II: The Sentinels. Also, McKinney had Lisa's bridge crew entirely male in an inverse of Gloval's crew, which was reflected in the Sentinels comics.
C) Lynn Kyle was wearing an REF flightsuit when he was killed in The Sentinels. Also, that's an awfully drab gray uniform, although I suspect the coloration (or lack thereof) be a nod to the black & white Sentinels comics.
The year this takes place in was left intentionally vague. However, we can definitely ballpark it. Following the SDF-3's departure for Tirol in 2022, the opening captions refer to "decades of struggle" leading up to the REF's more-or-less peaceful occupation of Tirol. At most it could be two decades later -- that would result in the story opening in 2042 and Vince's pursuit of Edwards taking place in 2043, leaving the rest of the series to take us to 2044, the end of the Third Robotech War and the opening of the Shadow Chronicles animation. It would also explain Jack Baker's command of his own squadron and his scruffy beard, as well as the more Shadow Chronicles-style look of the pilots' CVR-3 battle armor as compared to the equipment used by the Mars Division in New Generation.
Funny how between publishers this story has apparently leapt from pre-Mars Division (Robotech Masters-era Hovercycles in lieu of Cyclones and flare-shouldered uniforms) to post-Mars Division (fancy neon-trimmed uniforms & Shadow Devices). I love ROBOTECH.
When Rick mentions Edwards's reluctance to turn the captured alien technology he had over to Dr. Lang's teams, that seems to be a direct reference to Lang's request in Sentinels Book Four #11, that Edwards turn the Invid Brain over to Lang's personnel. That's an interesting bit of consistency.
Lynn Minmei's non-appearance here (seen from the back, cropped out of shots) was due to Harmony Gold being unable to settle on a new character design for the forty-something former pop star. In fact, on page 9 a panel was enlarged to crop out her vaguely-drawn face. Since it was decided that we'd likely never see her again in future ROBOTECH animation or comics, however, she is seen in a little more detail in issue #4 ... sort of.
The near-destruction of the SDF-3 has some very definite parallels with the way the Invid crippled the SDF-3, knocking out its reflex furnace and crippling its fold drive, waaaaaaay back in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book I #9, during the initial action against the Invid garrison on Tirol.
The Invid Regent's flagship that cripples the SDF-3 was actually destroyed by a giant apparition of the Robotech Master Zor on Haydon IV, birthed from the rage of Prince Administrator Vowad at the death of his daughter Sarna, in Sentinels Book IV #8. Except, of course, those events aren't canon in this version of continuity ...
Doctor Lazlo Zand is mentioned by Lang. Despite the fact that he was transformed into a giant Flower of Life at the end of the Second Robotech War (see McKinney's novel The Final Nightmare), he pops up next issue. Clearly the reason he wanted Lang to look the other direction when it came to fourth-dimensional reconfiguration is because it totally works and he wanted to have one up on, as he kept ranting about in The Zentraedi Rebellion, "the great Dr. Emil Lang."
General Reinhardt, a big wheel in the final two episodes of ROBOTECH, did not appear in any of the Sentinels comics prior to Prelude. The McKinney novels gave us a character named Gunther Reinhardt, but he was based on a bald and bearded character from the Sentinels animation who was originally going to be named Colonel Adams. However, Macek & Co. renamed the fellow Colonel Reinhardt when the Sentinels video was edited together and rewritten, presumably to tie together the references to a commander named Reinhardt mentioned by Major Carpenter in the Robotech Masters episode "Outsiders." The bald, bearded fellow is seen a few times in the later Sentinels comics during staff meetings and the like, but is never referred to by name, unlike the novels, where we eventually find a General Reinhardt in command of the flagship of the Earth reclamation fleet. While the final novel of the TV adaptations, Symphony of Light, was written with the intention of Reinhardt being the character seen here, if you read the McKinney novels in sequence the implication is that these are both supposed to be the same character. Consider that General Reinhardt in Symphony of Light is never described. (McKinney promotes the Sentinels animation's Reinhardt to Brigadier General in his first appearance, much in the same way "Major General Hunter" is a Vice Admiral in the novels and "Colonel Edwards" is likewise a Major General.)
When the assembled Sentinels are shown, they include characters who appear to be Burak, Kami (redesigned with a more compact breathing apparatus and and a sharper, more dangerous look), Baldan, and Gnea. However, since Burak was slated to be killed off in the liberation of Peryton and Baldan was killed in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book III #3, and these characters go unnamed, it might not be them. (Also, with the passage of so many years, the Sphersian could very well be Baldan II, who was just a boy when we last saw him in the Sentinels comics.)
When the year passes, Rick's hair turns all white, the first stage of his transformation into the Rick Hunter we see in the Shadow Chronicles animation. Considering the fact that his arch enemy ran off with an experimental starship and brand new fighters invisible to radar, kidnapped his old girlfriend, seriously injured his wife, killed his unborn child, and crippled his flagship, I don't blame him. (Okay, half that was the Regent, but it was all in service to Edwards's master plan.) Until he finds out about the unborn child thing, though, Rick seems to give Edwards the benefit of the doubt, hinting at how Prelude Edwards is a very different animal than maniacal, grinning, evil Sentinels Edwards.
The ship that Vince Grant is given command of, the Tokugawa, was also put under his command in the opening chapter of McKinney's last Sentinels novel, Rubicon. Previously it had been commanded by one Commodore Renquist, a subordinate of T.R. Edwards, and was used to pursue Zentraedi Commander Breetai when he stole the monopole ore from the Zentraedi mining facility over Fantoma. In the Sentinels comics this happened in Book IV #2. However, there the Tokugawa was depicted as an Izumo-class vessel, same as the SDF-4 Liberator, not a ... well, Tokugawa-class vessel, like Major Carpenter's Recon-1. Still, it's an established ship in the old Sentinels canon, making for a nice bit of consistency.