Robotech: Invid War #4 (of 18)

"Only Survivors"

Story - Bill Spangler & Tim Eldred
Art - Tim Eldred & Fred Perry
Cover Painting - Robert Chang
Publisher - Dave Olbrich
Editor-In-Chief - Chris Ulm
Editor - Dan Danko

Published by Eternity Comics, a division of Malibu Graphics Publishing Group.

Release date - August 14, 1992
Cover date - August 1992


It is March of 2033. Jonathan Wolff's Orpheus Flight, a mixed team of VF-1 Veritechs and Alpha Fighters piloted by the few men Wolff knows he can trust implicitly, arrive at the burning oil fields of old Texas. Parkes, a former forager, asks how long the others think the oil fires will keep going. Gavin Murdock, formerly of the Stone Men, figures about forty or fifty years. Terry Weston, an ex-TASC pilot and former drifter, points out that the burning fields are providing the Invid with plenty of cover, but Murdock tells him the cover works both ways -- the Invid won't expect them to come in from this direction. Wolff says to cut the radio chatter so as not to draw attention to themselves, though as he thinks about it he realizes that's exactly what he did back at Vahalla ...

Speaking of which, back at Vahalla, Major Carpenter has something to show Bekka Cade -- a message from Wolff. "This is a heckuva wake-up call, I know," Wolff says on the recording, "but I think this is the best way to handle things. I've decided I can't ignore Gary Hauser's theory about where the Invid are holding Catherine and Johnny. I've put together a team to attempt a rescue. By the time you see this, we'll be on our way. Murdock, Hauser, Parkes, and Weston are going with me. I told traffic control that we were a scouting mission for the attack on Reflex Point. If you're smart, you won't contradict the story. Believe it or not, Carpenter, I am sorry. Catherine, Johhny and I will probably never be a family again, even if I can find them ... but I owe them this much." He says he'll try to rejoin the main force to attack Reflex Point as soon as he can, but if his men don't return, they'll know what happened. Bekka is outraged. "That arrogant, irresponsible ... who does he think he is??" she asks.

"He knows who he is," Carpenter tells her. "He's Jonathan Wolff."

On the outskirts of Dallas, Hauser is amazed by the energy being given off by the Invid domes among the ruins of the city. As the Veritechs approach the target zone, Wolff suggests that if they come in low and fast they might surprise their foes. However, they are soon met by a squad of Invid Troopers. Parkes and Wolff nail a couple of them, but Weston is hit from behind. Realizing he's in bad shape, he decides to ditch his Alpha at one of the domes. The plane touches the ground and skids along on its tailfins before exploding at the Invid's doorstep. Horrified, Murdock takes his VF-1 down to try and rescue Weston, but as he switches to Battloid he finds himself face to face with an Invid Enforcer.

Meanwhile, the fleet from Moon Base ALuCE II descends to Earth as a convoy and is forced to confront the Invid in space. Mecha from Vahalla arrive at Reflex Point ahead of them and launch their attack. Bekka and Carpenter, flying over Reflex Point in a recon VF-1, receive a request for backup from the attacking Hovertank and Valkyrie squads below. Bekka receives word from Captain Nobutu that the moon fleet will arrive in four minutes. However, the forces from Vahalla might not last that long.

Back in Texas, Murdock quickly dispatches the Enforcer, surprisingly with minimal effort. Once-enslaved humans begin swarming out of one of the Invid domes, and Wolff takes this as a sign that he's done the right thing. Murdock and Hauser are ordered to get the humans to safety while Wolff blasts his way into the central Invid dome and destroys its power core. As it crumbles in upon itself, the survivors of Orpheus Flight worry for him, but his Alpha soon emerges and Parkes notes his satisfaction with their performance today. "Norvell thought I was crazy for agreeing to help you, but we did good today, Colonel," he radios to Wolff. "We saved a lotta lives!"

Back above Reflex Point, Bekka loses contact with Nobutu. Half of the fleet from the moon has been wiped out, and Nova Satori informs Carpenter that she's ordering her GMP forces to withdraw. Carpenter points out that they had an agreement. "I didn't agree to let my people be slaughtered," she retorts. "The Invid had us outnumbered from the beginning. Your so-called reinforcements from the moon don't have any real combat experience. We lost hundreds of soldiers today and we didn't make a dent in that blasted hive. We never had a chance against the Invid and your precious Colonel Wolff knew it. Otherwise, he'd be here! You've got to order a retreat now, while there's still people left to save." Against all those facts, Carpenter finds himself defeated and orders a retreat.

While Wolff's day has ended in victory, he is told by one of the freed slaves that his wife and son were transferred to another hive two or three days ago. The rumor was that they were sent to Reflex Point. "Oh, god ..." Wolff says upon hearing the news, "oh, god ... I'm sorry, Carpenter."

Three days pass. In Vahalla, an angry and betrayed Carpenter tells Wolff that he, Bekka, and the survivors from ALuCE II are pulling out and starting their own unit. He accuses Wolff of putting himself ahead of the mission. "Mission?" Wolff asks. "What mission? Letting the Invid use you for target practice?"

"That's not the point," Carpenter counters, "and you know it. The point is, you betrayed our trust. My trust."

Wolff tries to get Carpenter to accept that he's not the same guy he was on Tirol, and he's certainly not the guy the UEG and REF built up with those old propaganda films. "I'm old, I'm tired, and I let my family down when they really needed me." He tells Carpenter there will be no winners or losers in the war with the Invid, only survivors, and if he can't accept that, he should probably go. Carpenter says he'll be out in seventy-two hours.

Elsewhere, Louie Nichols finds that Wolff is currently unavailable. "Tell him it's a matter of life and death!" he urges the operator, but he's already been cut off. "Aaaah, skip it. Typical military mindset. He drags me halfway around the world to upgrade his communications system, and then he doesn't communicate. Well, I've got the message on tape. He'll hear it soon enough." The message is that the Mars Division of the REF fleet is en route to Earth. The Robotech Expeditionary Force is coming home to fight the Invid.


TIMELINE - Jack McKinney novels timeline.

  • Jonathan Wolff (next in Invid War #9)
  • John Carpenter (next in Invid War #9)
  • Bekka Cade (next in Firewalkers #1)
  • Norvell [referred to as "Parkes"] (final appearance)
  • Gavin Murdock (final appearance)
  • Gary Hauser (final appearance)
  • Terry Weston (final appearance)
  • Nova Satori (last in Invid War #1, next in Invid War #11)
  • Louie Nichols (next in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles #2)
According to Invid War #2, Louie Nichols remained behind on Earth when the rest of the 15th Squadron took off, and will go on to hook up the hackers from McKinney's novel The Masters' Gambit, who wind up becoming his colleagues in The End of the Circle. (He may have already, given that in issue #3 Carpenter remarks offhand that Nichols is working for the Japanese these days.) It's also a major plot point of Invid War that, going forward, nobody can actually leave Earth, so this Louie Nichols won't go on to join Dr. Cochrane's crew at Space Station Liberty in Prelude. However, that is the next place you see the character.

It's been a point of contention ever since Sentinels whether or not the Invid Regess developed the Invid Enforcer before or during its first appearance in the ROBOTECH TV series. Of course, the TV series leans towards their genesis occurring at that appearance, since the implication is that she's exploring the Invid's evolutionary development as the series progresses, but later sources, including the Sentinels comics and the RPG assert that while the Enforcer is only in the Regess's arsenal, it did appear prior to the TV series storyline. Given the Sentinels comics' track record, though, and the RPG's penchant for tossing things in for gameplay rather than veracity to the original source material, of course, I could definitely understand counting its appearance here as a flub ...

It was a little annoying that early on the only way to tell which member of Orpheus Flight was talking was by paying attention to the pilots' facial hair. Without haircuts and head shapes to tell them apart, the characters' appearances become awfully similar.

With the conclusion of this story, Wolff goes even further into the depths from which he'll never return except for that one brief, shining moment at the end of "Eulogy." I like how he addresses the propaganda films, though since Scott watched them I think they're actually Expeditionary Force-produced rather than specifically UEG produced, at least according to this McKinney-inspired course of events; the UEG and the REF didn't exactly cross paths in an organized state ever again after the SDF-3 took off -- again, according to McKinney. Of course, in the world, I think they portray Space Station Liberty (the ONLY link between the REF and Earth, according to the narrator in the early episodes of the Robotech Masters episodes) as having actually worked as a relay station on occasion, so perhaps in the TV series continuity it could be the UEG that produced those propaganda films. In either case, I'm glad Spangler left that remark in, since it provides something of a context for one of the key images of Wolff we see in the ROBOTECH TV series -- and that propaganda actually appears later on in Invid War (issue #13).

Wolff then says, "There aren't going to be any winners or losers in this war -- only survivors." This line does a good job of illustrating how Wolff's thinking is getting ever closer to his portrayal in "Eulogy." Apparently the feeling that he's lost his wife and son forever really has killed him in a sense. After all, just pages earlier, he seemed rather optimistic as he fought the Invid and helped free those slaves.

The battle against Reflex Point is portrayed later in the series as well, in issue #8. In neither instance does it seem massive enough for an attack that took this much planning on Nobutu, Wolff, and Carpenter's parts. There just aren't enough fighters, not enough chatter -- just not enough stuff to convince me that this is a major concerted effort to destroy Reflex Point. Remember what it took in the TV series, what with the hordes of Shadow Fighters with big Destabilizer cannons and the like? At first glance, you might almost wonder why Carpenter is so angry at Wolff for bailing on the attack -- did he really think that five more fighters would have made a difference?

Then again, notice the way Satori mentions Wolff's absence; she nearly suggests that if Wolff didn't even bother to show up, naturally he must've thought they didn't have a chance in hell. And after all is said and done, he realizes they didn't have a chance. But if he'd been there, perhaps the morale would have been better, or his kills might have prevented some of the casualties, and maybe the joint forces might have gotten out of there in a bit better shape. In any case, Carpenter had good reason to break away from Wolff, even if it's painfully obvious that Wolff's presence wouldn't have done too terribly much.

The next time we see Wolff, in issue #9, he's in really bad shape. Thinking about it, it's not much of a jump from saying that all anyone can do is survive to stealing Protoculture and trading lives for the stuff -- just a step, in fact, from saying to doing. But the Jonathan Wolff who saved the slaves from the Invid hive doesn't seem to be the same Jonathan Wolff who lectures Carpenter at the end of this issue, and certainly doesn't seem to be the same Wolff who, in his next appearance, sneaks into Carpenter's new base in search of Protoculture to steal. When the man fell, he fell hard, and he fell fast ...

As an aside, I wonder ... is the reason we never see either of Wolff's allies in Orpheus Flight due to Wolff selling them out to the Invid down the road? I wonder.

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