Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #2 (of 5)
"Part Two: Retribution"
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 19, 2005
Cover date - December 2005
Diamond order number - AUG05 0266
Estimated sales - 10,811 copies
THE STORYAs General T.R. Edwards's warship, the experimental battlecruiser Icarus, orbits the Invid homeworld of Optera, Vince Grant's command, the retrofitted Tokugawa, comes out of space fold and approaches the planet. Vince orders a passive scan of the planet below, so as not to let the Invid know they're coming. "Reading dense cloud cover and electrical discharges. The atmosphere is highly ionized. Spectro-analysis shows almost no oxygen, but high levels of carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia, and traces of silicon and heavy elements. Looks like the ecology of the whole planet's been wiped out," the ship's sensor operator offers. Another bridge officer suggests that the war between the Robotech Masters of Tirol and the Invid must have taken its toll. "Serves 'em right," he says, "they never should've started it." Sensors indicate another ship in Opteran orbit, along with several unidentifiable objects. Vince orders them up on the screen and magnified. The ship is revealed to be the Invid Regent's flagship, surrounded by a swarm of red lights. "Sound general quarters! All crews to battle stations!" Vince orders. "All decks to alert status!" Zentraedi Commander Breetai races from the bridge to prepare for battle. Karen Penn informs Vince that all crews are at battle stations, and reports that while the Regent's ship hasn't made a move, there's another ship behind it -- T.R. Edwards's Icarus!
Back in orbit around Tirol, Admiral Rick Hunter and Dr. Emil Lang are ferried to the newly rebuilt SDF-3. Rick thanks Lang and his teams for getting the SDF-3 reconstructed and refitted in so little time, but Lang says he should be thanking the Sentinels. "Without Ambassador Veidt we would never have been able to reverse-engineer Edwards's research. Without L'Ron and the Karbarrans we never would have been able to retrofit the SDF-3 or any of the Expeditionary fleet ships in such a short period of time," Lang says. Most of the Haydonites' assistance came in the form of reverse-engineering Edwards's biggest advantage, his new Shadow technology. Lang explains that Edwards discovered that the Invid can detect Protoculture power emissions, and has found a way to mask the energy signatures of reflex furnaces, rendering them invisible to most forms of detection. Janice approaches and tells Lang that everything is on schedule, and they should be able to get under way in twenty-four hours -- less if her central processor could handle the Haydonite technical data more effectively. Lang assures her that he's enlisted the aid of the Haydonites to develop some upgrades for her systems.
Rick is then informed of an incoming transmission from Space Station Liberty. Dr. Miles Cochrane lets Rick know that the installation of the new Shadow technology on the fleet is proceeding on schedule. Rick asks if the new fold drives for the SDF-3 will be ready by the time the ship is completed. Cochrane says it'll be down to the wire, but he has his best engineer, Dr. Louis Nichols, on it. As Cochrane signs off, Rick remarks that they might have to thank Edwards for this new technology if they can actually use it against the Invid, but Veidt tells him that what Edwards discovered what not new at all, but rather something very old that the Haydonites thought was lost. Rick asks Veidt how it works. "Simply put," Veidt says, "it utilizes what we call a Shadow Dimensional Field that creates a fourth-dimensional shift around Protoculture power emissions, rendering the reflex source invisible to any form of detection." Rick hopes that they're not too late to help Vince. However, Veidt remarks that this is merely the defensive application of the technology, and that he suspects that with the aid of someone not of the Invid, Edwards may have adapted it towards offensive weaponry.
Back in Optera orbit, Karen confirms the ship as Edwards's Icarus. Vince orders shields up, forward batteries to prepare to fire, and all fighter squadrons to scramble. Jack Baker's Wolf Squadron and Breetai's Zentraedi forces race to the flight deck. Karen notices that the forward hull of the Icarus is beginning to glow. Vince asks what the sensors show, but as before the Shadow technology is preventing them from getting any sort of readings. As a ring of energy emanates from the enemy vessel, Vince realizes what he's looking at and orders immediate evasive action. It's too late. The Icarus's main forward synchro cannon blasts straight through the port side of the Tokugawa, causing damage on a massive scale. The ship lists towards Optera, and Karen reports that the only systems responding are navigation and communications. "Get us some distance behind the planet!" Vince barks. "We're sitting ducks here!" Then Karen, with a look of dread, informs Vince that the Icarus is preparing to fire again.
Jack reports from the fighter bay that the doors won't open. Karen tells him that the Tokugawa has been seriously damaged and they've just lost auxiliary power to the launch bay. Jack shoots a hole in the bay door and leads his squadron of Alphas to battle.
From his flagship, the Invid Regent congratulates General Edwards on his strategy, then orders his elite battalion to launch. Waves of Invid fighters flood from his battle fortress.
Aboard the Icarus Edwards is informed that the synchro cannon is ready for another firing and the Invid are intercepting the REF fighters as expected. "Stand by," Edwards says. He tells Dr. Zand to get ready.
Jack notices the energy buildup on the Icarus's synchro cannon and tells Breetai that they're going to fire on the Tokugawa again. However, Breetai has a plan.
As the Regent watches the Invid battle the Alpha Fighters with glee, the Zentraedi's Bioroid units breach the Invid flagship's hull and storm his chambers. The Bioroids do battle with the Regent's guards as the Regent demands that his units be recalled to defend the ship. However, they're not responding -- Dr. Lazlo Zand has transferred control of the Invid mecha from the Regent's Invid Brain to the one stolen from Tirol! Now they will only do Edwards's bidding. The Regent realizes what's happened and shouts in rage, striking down invading Bioroids with his bare fists.
Breetai enters the Invid battle fortress's main bridge and maneuvers the ship between the Icarus and the Tokugawa. He orders all units to evacuate the enemy ship, but is suddenly struck from behind. Breetai looks up and recognizes his foe. "So, the Regent himself has come for me? What did I do to deserve this honor?"
"And the slave warrior has returned to complete his Masters' bidding!" the Regent snaps.
"No longer a slave, but still a warrior! Your reign of terror ends now!" Breetai retorts. The two warriors grapple as the Icarus's synchro cannon glows ever brighter.
"Ends!? It began when you tyrants decimated my planet! Now I will finish what the Robotech Masters started!" the Regent shouts.
"The Invid supercarrier is headed right at us!" Edwards is told. "Should we abort the synchro cannon and take evasive measures?"
"Negative," Edwards replies. "Fire at will."
The blast thunders across the vacuum of space and annihilates the Invid warship, taking Breetai and the Invid Regent with it.
"Ah, audacity ... always audacity!" Edwards remarks. "For a moment there, gentlemen, I wasn't sure we were going to pull that off." One of his men tells him that they've suffered minor damage to the port bow weapons array, but nothing serious. Dr. Zand compliments Edwards on his ingenious use of the Shadow Dimensional Field, using it not only to mask the synchro cannon's energy signature to also cut off the Regent's control of his troops, and Edwards adds that with the Regent's living computer destroyed, all the Regent's war machines will only obey Edwards's commands.
"So ... what do we do with our new army?" Zand asks.
"Patience, Zand," Edwards says as he watches the Tokugawa, knocked back by the shockwave of the Regent's ship's destruction, drift into the pull of Optera's gravitational field. "I want to enjoy this." Zand asks if they'll finish off the Tokugawa, but Edwards feels there's plenty of time for that later. "All in all," Edwards says, "I'd say it's been a very satisfying day."
Meanwhile, aboard the falling Tokugawa, Karen tells Vince that navigation is no longer responding. Vince orders her to send a distress call to the SDF-3 before they lose communications, too ...
NOTESTIMELINE - Modern Robotech.com timeline.
- Rick Hunter
- Dr. Emil Lang
- Vince Grant
- Jack Baker (next in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #4)
- Karen Penn (last in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #13)
- Janice Em
- Dr. Miles Cochrane (last in Robotech Masters #11)
- Dr. Louis Nichols (last in Invid War #4)
- Breetai Tul (last in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #12, final appearance)
- T.R. Edwards
- Dr. Lazlo Zand (last in Robotech II: The Sentinels Wedding Special #2, next in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #4)
- Veidt (next in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #5)
- Invid Regent (last in Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #12, final appearance)
The first page of this issue features excerpts from both T.R. Edwards and Vince Grant's personal logs in the style of the epigraphs that open each chapter of the ROBOTECH novels by Jack McKinney. Edwards's is especially interesting in that it references Julius Caesar's crossing of the river Rubicon, the first step in his rise to power, which also serves as a reference to the final novel of Jack McKinney's Sentinels series, which was entitled Rubicon.
Karen Penn, Jack Baker's love interest and rival from Robotech II: The Sentinels, seems to take the post of first officer aboard Vince Grant's Tokugawa. Unfortunately for Sentinels fans, she does not retain this post when he assumes command of Edwards's Icarus in the Shadow Chronicles animated feature. Also, she doesn't get a single chance to interact with Jack on anything more than a professional level -- they get exactly one scene where they get to exchange some dialogue, and the only indication that they know each other on a personal level is that he calls her Karen and she calls him Jack, and that's only after she's tried to maintain her professionalism by calling him "Commander Baker." Of course, that is completely in character for her ...
Despite the fact that he was a full-sized Zentraedi the last time we saw him in Robotech II: The Sentinels, Breetai is micronized and wearing a better-designed version of his ridiculous Sentinels helmet. A really cool touch is that several times throughout the issue Omar Dogan gives us a nice close-up of his helmet and we can see his left eye behind the helmet glass and a blank panel where his right eye should be.
It should be noted that micronized Breetai invalidates the Sentinels Book II subplot where the Zentraedi resizing chamber wore out after all the Zentraedi but Exedore were returned to full size to mine monopole ore on Fantoma that was necessary to repair the SDF-3, but given the differences between the McKinney Sentinels storyline on which the Sentinels comics were based and the new timeline as suggested throughout Prelude, the monopole ore might not have been needed. Also, the Prelude crew was working under a remit to keep Prelude away from certain elements of Macross -- hence the Zentraedi using Bioroids later in the issue instead of, say, the Z1 and Z2 Battlepods that were designed for Sentinels.
When Breetai talks to Vince about the Invid, he curiously remarks that, "We have fought them alongside the Robotech Masters for many years!" The key word here is "alongside." The Regent later makes a point of calling Breetai a "slave" to the Masters, which makes Breetai's word choice here all the more interesting. Then again, might it be possible that Breetai is referring to the REF working alongside the surviving Masters forces to fight the Invid? Unlikely, but certainly possible.
The bridge officer on the Tokugawa says that Optera has "almost no oxygen" and that it, "Looks like the ecology of the whole planet's been wiped out." Yet at the end of the next issue, Rick Hunter is able to walk out onto Optera's surface without a helmet. Whoops!
Also worth noting, in the only visual representation of the defoliation of Optera, the Waltrips' Legend of Zor, the defoliation was perpetrated with giant harvesting machines that manually removed all the Flowers of Life. However, the description of Optera here suggests to me that it's possible that the Robotech Masters used chemical weapons to defoliate the planet once they retrieved all the Flowers they needed. However, I suppose it's also possible that the removal of the Flower of Life from Optera's ecosystem caused these changes to the planet's ecology. Of course, the officer's remark ignores the possibility that this is simply the kind of environment that the Invid in their current form thrive on -- remember, aside from the human-type Invid and the Regent and Regess, we've never seen an Invid wandering around outside his or her mecha in the current canon.
The remark from a rank-and-file REF bridge officer that the Invid never should have started their war with the Robotech Masters gives the strong impression that the Expeditionary Force has been getting all their information about the war between the Masters and the Invid from the Tirolians, an obviously biased source. Breetai, as we see later in his battle with the Regent, knows better, but on the bridge of the Tokugawa he remains silent. Remember, doddering old Cabell spent the end of Sentinels Book I #16 assuring Dr. Lang that the Invid must wiped out -- "survival of the fittest," he says, and also, "The greatest threat to your planet is the Invid. Have no sympathy for them, Doctor. They are no longer the race they once were. They are driven. They will stop at nothing to regain their precious Flower of Life." The Sentinels have surely expressed similar sentiments to the humans, especially the Haydonites (for reasons that are made clear in The Shadow Chronicles), and in the Shadow Chronicles animation, young Marcus Rush gleefully relishes every opportunity he has to destroy the Invid. This strong loathing for the Invid and total misunderstanding of their motives has permeated the entire Robotech Expeditionary Force, and is consistent with what is seen in the New Generation episodes of the TV series -- Scott Bernard's attitude throughout the series and the use of the Neutron S missiles at the end alike.
The dialogue mentions some craft surrounding the Regent's flagship and supercarrier that "don't look Invid," but the art shows only twinkling red lights surrounding the Invid war machines. These are not brought up again. Perhaps they are the Neutron S warheads that Edwards mentions in issue #4, but if so it's a very poor foreshadowing, especially from a visual standpoint.
The giant Invid supercarrier that the Regent's flagship (which, again, was destroyed back in Sentinels Book IV #8, but that's not canon in this timeline) has docked with exhibits a distinct "lots of eyes and claws" aesthetic consistent with the Invid war machines the Waltrips designed during the Academy Comics publishing era.
Important point: While in the Shadow Chronicles animation the Haydonites are given all of the credit for Shadow technology, in this issue of Prelude Dr. Lang gives all the credit to Edwards. The Haydonites merely get credit for aiding the REF in their understanding and application of the technology. Clearly there is some retconning going on here. On the other hand, Veidt's dialogue swings things back around by telling Rick that what Edwards discovered was something the Haydonites were aware of all along.
When Rick and Dr. Lang arrive on the SDF-3, Janice and Veidt are seen supervising a team of Karbarran workers in REF uniforms putting some finishing touches on some part of the ship's construction. This is the last time the Sentinels aliens are seen, with the exception of Veidt, until the last issue of the series, and then that's just L'Ron.
Proof of this book being rushed out the door: on page 5, a large block of Dr. Lang's dialogue is put in Janice's mouth. Oh, and they're still doing the phonetic German accent thing on Dr. Lang's dialogue -- the key reason you can tell at first glance that the dialogue is coming out of the wrong mouth -- but in quoting it in the text above I've dropped that for clarity.
Wasn't Dr. Miles Cochrane a medical doctor back in the Robotech Masters episodes of the ROBOTECH TV series? I clearly recall that his lab was where Zor Prime was being studied; he didn't have anything to do with ships and mecha and the like, and now suddenly he's in charge of refitting Robotech vessels with the latest defensive technology. Either he's merely in management at Liberty, or he's gone through the same program the Robotech Master Zor did to be able to both understand and tap into the bio-energy of Protoculture within the Flower of Life (biology) AND design and oversee the construction of the SDF-1 (mechanical engineering).
Apparently the bow of the Icarus was designed for a single surprise blast of the synchro cannon; the blast tears it apart so that henceforth the ship appears as it does in the Shadow Chronicles feature, with two prongs sticking out flanking the giant maw of the ship's synchro cannon.
Question: What was the Invid Regent getting out of his alliance with T.R. Edwards in this version of the ROBOTECH timeline? In Sentinels, Edwards fed the Regent the whereabouts of the Sentinels' flagship, the Farrago, and led the charge on setting up the peace accords that ended in the death of the false Regent at the hands of the Invid scientist Tesla. However, it's clear from the events of the first issue of Prelude that the whole "peace with the Invid" arc didn't happen in the new timeline, and the REF's involvement in the liberation of the Sentinels' worlds has been downplayed. So I ask again, what exactly did the Regent get out of all this -- besides being annihilated at the end of this issue?
The Regent's "elite battalion" appears to be a space variant on the Invid Shock Trooper design, with the thrusters of the booster-equipped Scout and an additional claw on each hand. Given the black coloration and red accents, these seem to correlate to the Black Death Destroyers that the Regent had developed in Sentinels Book IV #8, a caste of bizarrely redesigned Invid soldiers evolved from the Regess's "special children" in the wake of his major defeat on Haydon IV -- the same defeat where he lost that flagship he's commanding here. Of course, the Black Death Destroyer designs and name are a bit too over-the-top for Prelude (at least at this early point), but obviously that's the basic concept at work here, based on the visual presented and the Regent's word choice.
Dr. Lazlo Zand is revealed to be alive and well and working for T.R. Edwards. Given his place in the Leonard-Edwards cabal was supposed to be back on Earth running Robotech Research Tokyo in Dr. Lang's stead, and for that matter, he was supposed to have been transformed at the end of chapter 25 of McKinney's novel The Final Nightmare into a giant Flower of Life, I'm curious how he wound up here working on T.R. Edwards's top-secret projects. My guess: he stowed aboard on one of the ships that left Earth in the framing sequence that ended issue #6 of Love & War. Of course, given Lang's dialogue regarding their discussions about fourth-dimensional reconfiguration, I'm curious how long Zand was supposed to be dead, and if he was supposed to have died the same way, and if he and Lang were somehow in contact during the early stages of the Pioneer Mission. Too many questions, not enough answers!
Zand is wearing a science uniform strongly similar to Louie Nichols's in the Shadow Chronicles animation, complete with cape. His cyborg eyes/glasses are reminiscent of Bateau from Ghost in the Shell, and his tan skin brings to mind his appearance as described in McKinney's The Zentraedi Rebellion, when following his self-induced Protoculture mindboost Dr. Lang confronts him about his newly tanned appearance -- a side-effect of the Protoculturally-charged drug cocktail he injected himself with, like his all-black eyes. It should be noted that the character was originally based on a Dr. Lang look-alike who appears in The Macross Saga, episode #29, "The Robotech Masters," and his description in the novels was never anything akin to the Exedore-like figure that John Waltrip drew in Robotech II: The Sentinels Wedding Special #2. Still, the version of the character that appears here bears little resemblance to any previous description or visual interpretation of the character. I like the design, though. I hope we see him stirring up trouble in the next ROBOTECH animation.
The Zentraedi are all pictured using a newly designed variant on the Bioroid Invid Fighter design from the end of Robotech Masters, the Bioroid Interceptor. Model sheets of the design can be seen in the back of issue #3 of Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles. Note the rank insignia on the shoulder, a holdover design element from Sentinels as seen in the old Eternity/Malibu Graphics Sentinels Illustrated Handbook. Mind you, when you see Breetai's rank insignia, you'll notice that it has more stripes on it than the rank insignia the Illustrated Handbook gives for a Commodore -- the highest rank in the Illustrated Handbook's chart -- so I don't know what's up with that.
When the Regent confronts Breetai, the mecha he's using is what I suppose could be a non-transformable variant or prototype of the Invid Overlord mecha, the transformable Invid craft designed to be the "final boss" of the Robotech: Invasion video game for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. I say that his particular craft is probably not transformable because I doubt that the Regent's tremendous bulk would fit into a mecha of that scale that was also transformable.
The word balloon for the Regent and Breetai's war cries as they are killed is poorly placed, another symptom of just how quickly this book was rushed out the door.
Zand states that the Brain cut off "the Regent's control of his Inorganic units," but the units that the Brain was coordinating were living Invid, not Inorganics. What Zand forgets here (and the Waltrips, apparently) is that living Invid Scouts, Shock Troopers, and the like can also be controlled by the Invid Brains (see, for instance, the mental control tug-of-war at the very end of the Waltrips' own Sentinels Book IV #13). Whoops.