Robotech (WildStorm) #1 (of 6)

"From The Stars"

Plot - Tommy Yune
Script - Jay Faerber
Art - Long Vo, Charles Park, & Saka of Udon
Letterer - Jenna Garcia
Asst. Editor - Kristy Quinn
Editor - Ben Abernathy
Special Thanks - Tom Bateman & Erik Ko

Published by WildStorm Productions, an imprint of DC Comics.

Release date - December 18, 2002
Cover date - February 2003

Diamond order number - OCT020801
Estimated sales - 53,023 copies


It is the year 1999. Somewhere in rural northern California, on the fields of Pop Hunter's Flying Circus, young Rick Hunter races excitedly towards his mailbox. Inside is a letter from his dear friend Roy Fokker, currently flying fighters for the military out in the Pacific. He rips the letter open and sits down in the grass beside the mailbox, smiling as he reads the latest from his mentor:

"Dear Rick, sorry I couldn't call you, but my latest mission requires the entire carrier group to maintain radio silence, so this letter will have to do. Has Pop let you fly in the circus yet? I know you've been dying to strap yourself in the cockpit and contribute to your family business ... but remember that flying can be dangerous. Take it from me. So stay sharp and remember everything your pop and I taught you, and I have no doubt you'll be flying rings around me in no time."

Somewhere in the South Pacific, aboard the U.S.S. Kenosha, Roy Fokker returns from his latest run untouched, a feat which doesn't go unnoticed by his fellow fighter pilots. What also doesn't go unnoticed is the fact that he's gone through four wingmen in the last three months, including the one today. "And in all that time," one of the pilots says, "he's never even taken a serious hit."

"Well, he's been flying since he was a kid, right?" a younger pilot, Steve, says. "I heard he was part of a flying circus. I guess it's in his blood."

One of the other pilots tells Steve he can ask Fokker all about it, because he's his new wingman. "Been nice knowin' ya!" he adds.

Steve shrugs it off. "Go ahead and laugh, guys. This guy managed to become a double ace faster than anyone else in Skull Squadron history. Frankly, I'm honored."

As Steve walks down to meet Fokker, Admiral Hayes looks down from the ship's bridge and asks the Kenosha's captain if he thinks this new wingman is going to make it. "I don't know, Admiral Hayes. That's a good question. Fokker sure has blown through his share of wingmen ... but this new nugget got top scores at the Academy, so let's just say I've got my fingers crossed, sir." Hayes laughs, asking if he carries a rabbit's foot as well. "I don't mind telling you, sir, considering our latest mission, it probably wouldn't hurt. Do you really think the Russians would be so careless as to sell their Oscar-class nuclear subs to a foreign power?"

Hayes is quick to respond. "Captain, considering the shape the world is in today, nothing would surprise me. Our orders are to follow the Russian sub that was spotted in these waters, and see if we can find any truth to the rumors. The Pentagon's suffered too many setbacks with all the recent hot spots around the globe. Let's see if we can carry out a mission that they can put in their "win" column."

Meanwhile, aboard the aforementioned Russian sub, the SSGN Minsk, Captain Henry J. Gloval asks his first officer Poruchik if there's any sign of the Americans yet. Poruchik says there's no sign yet, but the sonar station is on alert. "Good, good. If our information is correct, the American Navy has probably dispatched an entire carrier group to follow us by now. They must really think we're so desperate that we'd even sell our most prized vessels ... vessels which could then be used against us! I must say, it's been ages since I've heard a more ridiculous notion. It just goes to show you how strange the world has become. Our military forces are already stretched to their limits, trying to maintain a grasp on the many conflicts which have erupted all over the world. And something in my bones tells me this is going to get worse before it gets better." Just then, the sonar operator informs Gloval that an American helicopter just dropped objects into the water above them. "Sonar buoys. I should've guessed ... Admiral Hayes is a slave to traditional American tactics." He gives the order to go quiet, and Poruchik relays the order to bring the sub to a full stop.

For a moment, all is quiet except the "ping" of the sonar. Then, above the waters of the Pacific, a volley of missiles strikes and destroys the American helicopter. Gloval is immediately informed of this development. He asks if it was one of theirs that hit the chopper, but it wasn't.

Above the water, aboard the Kenosha, Hayes asks if it wasn't the Russians, who shot their helicopter down? He looks out with his binoculars, seething, when the captain tells him the Pentagon is on the line for him. "I'm just a little bit busy right now, Captain," he grumbles. The captain informs him they said it was important. He takes the call. "This is Admiral Hayes, what's -- Well, I'm in the middle of a situation, can't -- I see. Okay. Yes, sir." He hands the captain the phone and tells him he's in charge. "I'm needed back at the Pentagon, ASAP. I want you to send sub hunters after the Minsk, and scramble a fighter squadron to chase down those bogeys." The captain asks why Hayes is being called away. "I honestly don't know," Hayes says. "But what if it is, it's big."

On deck, Roy and Steve rush to their fighters. Roy asks Steve if he thinks he can keep up. "You can count on it, sir!" Steve says with a big thumbs-up. As Roy looks at a photo of himself and Rick in happier times, control tells him he's cleared for takeoff. "Skull One-Eleven here, ready when you are. Let 'er rip, tower!" He shoots off into the sky.

Elsewhere, on the shuttle back to Washington, Admiral Hayes gets a call from the Pentagon. "Admiral, this is Secretary Dellinger. I know you're probably curious about why we're calling you back." Hayes says "curious" is a good word. "Well, I didn't want to keep you in the dark for your entire trip bacl. You'll recieve a full briefing upon your arrival at the Pentagon, but in short ... we've detected a massive unidentified object that appears to be heading straight for Earth's atmosphere." As he takes the words in, Hayes's eyes widen in sheer and utter shock.

Back in the skies over the Minsk, Skull Squadron comes into the range of the fighters that shot down the American chopper. "I count fourteen bogeys, dead ahead," Skull Leader reports. "We've got our work cut out for us, Roy. Lead ahead with Steve and try to break up their formation ... and save some bogeys for us this time!" Roy tells Steve to follow him. When cannon fire begins to come their way, Skull Leader orders them to fire at will. Steve misses with one of his missiles and asks Roy if those are Russian SU-37s they're flying. "No, it's something else ... now pull ahead of me, kid. We're gonna weave a basket!" Steve is unsure -- he points out that he's got a bunch of the enemy craft on his tail. "Absolutely!" Roy responds. "This is an old trick. They're a sucker for this every time!" A short bit of quick maneuvering and gunfire later, and Steve is astonished that it worked like a charm -- the enemy's been torn to shreds. "Would I lie to you, kiddo?" Roy asks.

"Uh oh, Roy -- they got a lock on me!" Steve says, spotting a missile on his trail. Roy tells him he won't outrun it, so he has to outmaneuver it.

"Head for the deck and then pull up at the last second. The missile won't be able to duplicate that move." Steve tries, but goes too low. His nose touches the water, and the missile catches up with him, blowing the plane to scrap.

After a brief moment of shock and horror, Roy recovers and resumes his fight with renewed conviction, tempered with anger. "All right, you bastards, playtime's over," hs snaps. In a matter of moments, three enemy craft are full of holes and going down. He then spots the one that took out Steve. "I wanna see the look on his face when he realizes his ticket's about to be punched. Wait," he says, pausing to get a good look at the enemy fighter, "those aren't Russian markings. Who are these guys?" As his thumb hovers over the trigger to fire his missiles, Roy decides there's no time to worry about that now. "We can sort this out once these guys are taken out for good."

Just then, Roy spots something shining out of the corner of his eye. He looks up ...

Just as the sub hunter aircraft sent to track down the Minsk prepares to launch its torpedoes after it, a blazing light draws towards them. As it draws ever closer, the aircraft is torn apart. On the Kenosha, the captain orders all hands to brace for impact and the deck to be cleared, but it's too late. The incoming blazing object tears past them, and the shockwaves behind it knock the Kenosha on its side, spilling aircraft into the ocean; its escorts are tossed about like bath toys by the tsunami created by the unidentified incoming object's entry. Roy kicks in his afterburners, gaining altitude to avoid a burning death as the flaming object from the stars crash lands on a nearby island.

Beneath the ocean, Gloval is told there are some strange readings coming in. He takes a look at the monitor and orders the ship to dive deeper immediately.

Back in the sky, Roy tries to radio the Kenosha and Skull Squadron, but to no avail. He takes a look towards the island and wonders what the hell is going on.

The Minsk rises to periscope depth and Gloval takes a look outside. He is stunned by what he sees. "Take us to the surface, Poruchik." Poruchik tells him they could be looking at nuclear war here, but Gloval insists. The sub rises, and Captain Gloval gets a look for himself at Macross Island, smoke steadily billowing from its flaming surface, marred by the presence of a massive twin-engined monstrosity.

"This," Gloval says forebodingly, "is a whole new war."


TIMELINE - Modern timeline.

  • Roy Fokker
  • Rick Hunter
  • Steve (first and final appearance)
  • Admiral Donald Hayes (last in flashback in Return to Macross #20, next in Invasion #1 "Mars Base One")
  • Henry J. Gloval (last in flashback in Return to Macross #30, next in Robotech: The Graphic Novel)
  • Poruchik (first and final appearance)
  • Secretary Dellinger (first and final appearance)
Personally, I wouldn't suggest reading Admiral Hayes's and Captain Gloval's storylines in chronological order based on how things fit -- or rather, how they fail to -- in the events prior to and following this issue. The appearances that Admiral Hayes is between are two separate, distinct stories explaining how his wife died. Even better, in each story both he and his wife have different names ("Nicholas" and "Catherine" in Return to Macross, "Donald" and "Sara" in "Mars Base One"). The latter story is the one that is currently considered valid.

On top of that, Lisa is already with Karl Rieber in the Return to Macross story, while in "Mars Base One" they meet for the first time. In the Return to Macross flashbacks, the SDF-1 hasn't crashed yet, while in "Mars Base One" it's explicitly stated that it's taking place in 2001.

Gloval is in a stranger fix, temporally between events that in no way could have had any impact on his storyline according to the modern take. While the story told here appears to be very slightly derived from the old novels and comics -- maintaining Roy Fokker's participation in the conflict raging across the Earth prior to the crash of the SDF-1 and his assignment to the carrier Kenosha -- it shakes up the old storylines quite a bit. For instance, it scales back the nature of the pre-SDF-1 conflict, turning it from one huge conflict called the "Global Civil War" into an explosion of smaller conflicts across the globe. Unlike earlier works, the lines between countries seem to be about what they were in the REAL 1999. In the Comico Graphic Novel, Fokker was a pilot for the "Western Alliance;" the novels and Bill Spangler's Return to Macross referred to him as having been a pilot for the "Internationalists"; here he seems to be flying for the U.S. Navy.

Further -- and this is what throws Gloval's story continuum out of whack -- it takes Captain Gloval and puts him on the opposite side of the conflict from Fokker and Hayes. This is a major difference from all previous pre-Macross era ROBOTECH works, which had put Gloval in command of the Kenosha with Fokker flying under him during this era of war. The only major problem with the new setup is that it has the potential side effect of effectively bolluxing the story Gloval tells Lisa Hayes in episode 15, "Homecoming". As Gloval tells her:

"When we were serving together, a problem came up once about inadequate rations for the men. When he couldn't get any action from headquarters, he ordered our entire division to raid the food supplies of the commanding general. The general thought spies had infiltrated the regiment. He kept sending down orders for us to find them."

All I can figure is that this must have happened in some joint U.N. operation of some sort in the early '90s (the Gulf War perhaps?); McKinney figured about the same, though he had the luxury of a nearly decade-long Global Civil War to explain it away and didn't have the problem of Gloval and Hayes being on opposite sides immediately prior to the crash of the SDF-1. The one thing that helps fit Gloval's story in "Homecoming" into continuity with this issue is the fact that here Gloval does know Hayes by name. The way he speaks of him it seems the two have a history, and the TV series does nothing to suggest that it was always a friendly one, especially considering the way things go in the TV episode in question.

This issue had two different covers, neither of which have much of anything to do with the contents. Cover #1 is a rather nice but fairly stock piece of The Macross Saga art conjured up by Long Vo and his pals at Udon. It's unfortunate that the ROBOTECH logo covers up the top of the image; it would have worked better on the bottom, since there's no important characters' faces there. Heck, the logo covers Gloval's face, and he's one of the few characters on the cover to appear in this issue! Otherwise, though, not bad; the VF-1J isn't even too Super Poseablish. My only other complaint would be that Fokker seems to be wearing a Macross The Movie: Do You Remember Love? pilot's jumpsuit, not a ROBOTECH uniform. Notice how he has no stripe on his shirt collar and the jacket collar is the wrong color.

Cover #2 is also nice, though it's obvious that the model for the VF-1S was the "VF-1S Roy Fokker Last Stand" action figure that was a mail-away exclusive at ToyFare magazine in the summer of 2002. Also obvious from their flatter-than-normal appearance is the fact that the Battlepods were modeled off of the video game Battlecry for the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube. While not a good representative piece of art for this series, it's a really nice piece. Why don't we have a poster of it, or maybe a wallscroll?

Unlike the Comico Graphic Novel and the flashback scenes in Return to Macross, everyone's wearing uniforms that, as far as I can tell, hew pretty close to the present day uniforms of their respective countries, though with a few liberties taken here and there (notably the RDF-style striped shirts underneath the U.S. Navy pilots' flight jackets). I also think Roy's flight helmet probably should have a visor of some sort, but anime-style creative license seems to have been taken so we can more easily identify him in the skies.

On the first page they appear, Hayes and the captain's name badges are blank; on all subsequent pages, they do appear. Hayes is identified only as "Admiral Hayes," though later issues do identify him as Donald Hayes -- as remarked above, this is the second first name the character has been given, though Hayes was only originally given a first name during the Academy run of Return to Macross, so I can very easily forgive Tommy Yune & Co. for not being aware of it. The captain serving under him's name badge appears only in one panel, in such small type that I can't read it -- it's on page 8, and it's slightly askew. Anyone out there able to read it?

The Russians' dialogue is written in a faux-Russian-looking font, which I think is a nice touch. Yes, Gloval was Russian in the ROBOTECH TV series. Yes, I know the character was originally supposed to be Italian in the Macross TV series. Quiet, you.

The fighter that shot Steve down has the same markings that T. R. Edwards's plane had in the old Comico Graphic Novel (which also happen to be the same markings seen on the fighters in the flashbacks in episode 33, "A Rainy Night"). For those of us who know our ROBOTECH, this is foreshadowing; for everyone else, the beginning of a mystery that really doesn't pay off.

When this was released, there was a discussion about the physics of the SDF-1's arrival on one of the ROBOTECH on-line forums. Ironically, it was pointed out that while the tsunami generated by the shockwaves of the SDF-1's arrival would only move the aircraft carrier group around and not utterly destroy them, it would have created enough force to crush Gloval's Minsk, especially if it dove into deeper water. I suppose that's something of a major "oops" given the outcome presented, though I doubt most readers would catch it.

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Robotech (WildStorm) #0 (of 6)


Story - Tommy Yune
Script - Jay Faerber
Art - Jim Lee, Ale Garza, Carlos D'Anda, Lee Bermejo, Trevor Scott, Richard Friend, and Sandra Hope
Colors - Udon Studios
Letterer - John E. Workman
Editor - Ben Abernathy

Published by WildStorm Productions, an imprint of DC Comics.

Release date - December 4, 2002
Cover date - February 2003

Diamond order number - OCT020800
Estimated sales - 47,880 copies


"At the dawn of the new millenium, the human race discovered they were not alone in the universe when an abandoned alien vessel crashed into the Earth. The bounty of advanced technology within would alter the course of human history. This alien technology was known as Robotech. A powerful alien race, the Zentraedi, would bring an age-old war to Earth. However, aided by the miracle of Robotechnology, the human spirit would prevail ..."

It is the year 2015. Veritech Wolf Squadron is in pursuit of a team of full-sized Zentraedi rebels who have stolen a cache of GU-11 gun pods. Wolf Leader Jack Archer radios headquarters and assures them that his team will intercept the rebels and recover the goods. As he tells his wing that they don't have authorization to use deadly force the Veritechs transform to Battloid mode and follow the rebels into what appears to be a drained resevoir. Suddenly, one of the rebels lets loose with a surprisingly loaded gun pod and the Battloids take cover. One pilot notices some approaching Monster Destroids. "Oh," he says, "looks like reinforcements. Guess base didn't think we could handle these stragglers on our--"

One of the Monsters fires -- and not at the Zentraedi. The blast takes the head off of a VF-1A Battloid. "Those are Zentraedi markings!" another pilot shouts. Indeed they are -- shoddily-painted blue Zentraedi insignias adorn the "noses" of the squat Destroid mecha. The Veritech team has been led into an ambush. The Destroids let loose on the Veritechs, firing everything they've got at the team. "Wolf Leader to base! Wolf Leader to base! We're taking heavy fire! We need back-up now! I repeat, we --"

"I heard you the first time, Wolf Leader ..."

A sleek new model of fighter plane with familiar yellow and black trim and skull & crossbone fin flash flies into the oncoming fire. "This is Skull Leader. Hold on, I'll have you out of there in no time!"

In the cockpit of his shiny new YF-4 Veritech Fighter, Rick Hunter pulls down on a familiar control lever marked "G." The jet begins to respond to the command, but it registers a malfunction. Instead of swooping down in Guardian mode, Rick is forced to lock onto the two Monsters with his missiles and knock 'em out the quick & dirty way. He fires and dives between them as the Monsters' weapons systems explode. "The Destroid Monsters have been neutralized," Rick tells Wolf Squadron. "We've deployed a full assault team to assist you in containment and clean-up." Wolf Squad thanks him as they take the full-sized Zentraedi rebels into custody.

Rick returns to Macross City with the YF-4 prototype, flying by the mounds that will stand as a monument to the fallen SDF-1 and cover over the rubble of that ship, Khyron's battlecruiser, and other remains from the Battle of New Macross City. As the Veritech touches down and screeches along the runway, Doctor Emil Lang runs up to demand a word with Hunter.

"Hello, Dr. Lang!" Rick says cheerily as he removes his flight helmet. "We're going to need a complete rundown of the YF-4's new transformation system ..." Lang demands to know what he was thinking, taking the prototype into battle.

"Had you been shot down, all of our research would have been lost ..." Lang says. Rick goes on about the transformation system, pointing out that the configuration actuators appear to seize up during a hard dive. "... and the Veritech advancement program would have suffered an enormous setback!" Lang finishes. He asks Rick to take the matter more seriously, but Rick counters that he takes this all very seriously; after all, if it hadn't been for the YF-4, some men's lives would have been lost. "Spoken like a true fighter pilot, I must say," Lang notes. "I wonder who taught you your priorities. Surely, it wasn't ..."

Rick is no longer listening; he's noticed that the VF-1S Skull One is in the hangar in Battloid mode. He asks what it's doing here. "Now that we're phasing out the first Veritech series," Lang explains, "we're preparing to disassemble Skull-One to perform a structural analysis of stress and fatigue. The data vould be invaluable since it is the oldest surviving VF-1 in our inventory." Rick says he must have missed it on the schedule. He apologizes for risking the prototype, and asks if they can continue at another time. Lang agrees, then adds that Admiral Hayes wanted him to remind Rick about his appointment tonight. Rick thanks him., then runs his hand along the mecha's canopy. "Well, old girl, Roy told me once that he thought you'd outlive him. But knowing Roy ... I thought he was just being dramatic."

Rick flashes back sixteen years ... it is the year 1999, six months prior to the arrival of the SDF-1. At a small air circus in the southwest, it's pouring rain outside, and the announcer is telling the audience that the it doesn't seem to be letting up so they're going to have to close up early. "Hey, waitasecond ..." he says as a small yellow biplane soars through the dark clouds towards a bolt of lightning, "maybe the show ain't over yet! Look, folks -- that's death-defyin' Roy Fokker up there! Looks like he's gonna make sure you get your money's worth, rain or shine!"

After the show, Fokker climbs out of his plane. Two people are waiting for him: a young boy of around nine and his father, a square-jawed old-timer in a bomber jacket. The man is one "Pop" Hunter, the owner of the air circus. As Roy boasts about his flying, Hunter chides him. "Part of being a good pilot is knowing when to take intelligently calculated risks. But flying stunts in a thunderstorm is plain stupid even for someone with your raw talent." Roy assures Pop that he can take care of himself, but Pop already knows that. "But one of these days ... you're gonna get someone else killed."

A day or so passes. Young Rick Hunter races across the field to the front office of the air circus in search of Roy. Roy and Pop are watching the news, and Rick asks Roy if he's really going to go fight in the war. "'Fraid so, little brother," Roy says. "Can't put it off any longer." He turns to Pop. "I know you're anti-war, and I"m not exactly eager to kill anyone myself, but I'm a damn good pilot, and my country needs me." Pop puts his hand on Roy's shoulder. "I can respect that," he says. "Every man's gotta make his own way in this world." Roy thanks him, then takes Rick outside to talk.

Rick asks if he can come with him, but Roy tells Rick that war's no place for little guys like him. "When I get older, then?" Rick asks. Roy assures Rick that when he's old enough to be a fighter pilot, this war is going to be a distant memory. "Then will you come back and fly for the circus again?" Rick asks. "You bet," Roy replies, "and I'll be back for good."

"You promise?"

"Yeah, I promise."


TIMELINE - Modern timeline.

  • Rick Hunter (last in The Macross Saga #36, next in Robotech (WildStorm) #6)
  • Jack Archer (first and final appearance)
  • Dr. Emil Lang (last in The Macross Saga #6, next in Robotech II: The Malcontent Uprisings #7)

  • 1999
  • Roy Fokker (first chronological appearance)
  • Mitchell "Pops" Hunter (first chronological appearance, next in Robotech: The Graphic Novel)
  • Rick Hunter (first chronological appearance)
While "Pops" Hunter has a different first name in the old Comico Graphic Novel (one of three, collect them all) and a more feeble appearance overall, that doesn't change the fact that the scenes with Rick's dad (and Rick, for that matter) in that story don't contradict anything in this mini-series. Everyone else (the Earth-based characters, that is), on the other hand ...

This was the first all-new published story set in Harmony Gold's revised ROBOTECH timeline, which throws all of the old, previously published material out and starts fresh with the original 1985 TV series as its only basis.

I have to agree with a friend of mine when he says that the opening narration is missing a little something, namely, "In the year 1999 ..." The date does come up later, but honestly, it should have been in the narration, if only for nostalgia reasons. Besides, the "at the dawn of a new millenium" stuff (which became the standard opening for all the WildStorm ROBOTECH comic series) gives me nasty flashbacks to the Robotech 3000 trailer. *shudder*

Note the use of the ROBOTECH: Battlecry video game's VF-1R Veritech Fighter (three-lasered head) as Wolf Leader's craft. The Battlecry storyline was, at this point, the only other all-new story material in the revised ROBOTECH timeline. Wolf Leader Jack Archer's cameo here would not be the only cameo by a ROBOTECH video game character in the comics; Dr. Osmund from ROBOTECH: Invasion would appear in the last two issues of the comic series of the same name. However, Osmund gets to be referred to by name, while Archer is not.

Bear in mind, Wolf Squadron was referred to in the first episode of ROBOTECH and reappears in Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles, setting up its appearance in the Shadow Chronicles animation. It's been set up in the new material as the other premiere Veritech squadron, alongside the Skull.

Despite the reboot, traces from other earlier "secondary canon" works do shine through; notice that one of the primary established characters in this story is Doctor Emil Lang, who first grew to prominence in ROBOTECH II: The Sentinels and works designed to set the stage for that aborted television project (i.e. the original Comico Graphic Novel). If you'll recall, originally he only appeared in episodes 5 and 6 of the TV series. The scenes with Roy and Rick's father also seem to draw heavily from the portrayal of "Pop" Hunter in the aforementioned Graphic Novel, though "Pop," while clad in a very similar outfit, is much younger-looking here than his Graphic Novel counterpart.

Rick's craft in this issue is the YF-4/VF-X-4. He played with a model of it in the opening scenes to episode 36, "To The Stars". There was some chatter about whether or not Harmony Gold could legally use that design prior to this issue's release. Since it does appear in the show, at least in model form, I would assume they do. However, I assume that the mecha was unable to transform in this story for legal reasons; Harmony Gold does not own the rights to the design of the Guardian or Battloid modes for this mecha since it only appeared in Fighter mode in the material they have the rights to. In fact, no such forms were designed by mecha designer (and Macross co-creator) Shoji Kawamori for this particular revision of the design. A refined version of the mecha called the VF-4 Lightning was later developed for the 1987 combination music video/epilogue Flashback 2012 and further refined for the Bandai video game Macross VF-X, only the latter of which actually featured a GERWALK (Guardian) and Battroid (Battloid) mode for the craft. I suspect a Battloid and Guardian mode would have to be designed for this mecha in-house at Harmony Gold before it could be used again in ROBOTECH for any period of time.

The two-page spread on pages 7 & 8 depicts the construction of the three mounds that appear in the Masters episodes of the ROBOTECH TV series (a.k.a. SX Point 83). Easily seen behind the unfinished framework of the one in the forefront are the remains of the SDF-1; in another, Khyron's downed battlecruiser. The third one is almost complete and thus we don't get a look inside. Harmony Gold has been awfully noncommittal about what exactly is in that third mound. Series story editor & producer Carl Macek has long claimed that he intended for the SDF-2 to be standing back-to-back with the SDF-1 in the final episode of the Macross portion of ROBOTECH, "To The Stars," so that its remains could be the contents of the third mound. However, since no SDF-2 actually appears in the footage, some have argued that the references to the SDF-2 in "To The Stars" had to be referring to events at another location and thus it cannot be what is inside that third mound. Since the Daedalus arm of the SDF-1 was sheared off in Khyron's final suicide attack, I suppose that could be the contents of the third mound. (In the trade paperback collection that contains this story, From The Stars, a reference drawing of the under-construction mounds appears and does identify the third mound as the SDF-2. However, that's merely preproduction material, and the finished art remains noncommittal.)

Speaking of that location, it appears that New Macross City is relatively intact below the mounds. Since the passage of time between Rick's thoughts about that fateful day in New Macross and his final approach for landing is indeterminite, it's not clear if he's landing at New Macross or at nearby Monument City, but if he is landing at the former locale, this flatly contradicts all earlier licensed material, which swears up and down that New Macross is so terribly irradiated by the destruction of the SDF-1 and Khyron's battlecruiser (and possibly the SDF-2) that nobody should ever go there ever again ... or at least until an insubordinate Dana Sterling decides to ride out there in 2029.

I have a qualm with Lang's accented dialogue (not reproduced in the quotes above, for clarity's sake), written out like, "vhat is dis?" which strikes me as a trend that should have been given up by comics writers years ago. Nobody had ever written Lang's dialogue that way before, at least not in any published officially licensed story, despite the fact that he spoke in a German accent in the show. While I could hear Lang's voice the way I remember it from the series a shade more easily with the accented dialogue, I still think it reads like a bad stereotype in an obnoxious kind of way.

Notice that Rick is still "Captain Hunter;" he has apparently not recieved a promotion since the end of the Macross episodes of ROBOTECH, wheras Lisa is referred to as "Admiral Hayes." This is another aspect that flies in the face of previous licensed works, which brought Rick up to just under Lisa's rank after the destruction of the SDF-1 and -2 (hence references in the novels from "The Zentraedi Rebellion" onward to "the Admirals Hunter"), but makes good sense. After all, Lisa's last words to Minmei concerning Rick before she and he took off to fend off Khyron's final attack were, "He's a pilot! That's his life!" This very point is made by Rick early in "The Zentraedi Rebellion," and the fact that Yune and Faerber didn't go down that route in this story proves that they were paying better attention to that line than Lisa was in that particular story.

The appointment that Rick has with "Admiral Hayes" appears at the end of issue #6.

The twelve story pages of this issue were handled by seven different artists. It's not clear who did what, or who served in what capacity; only a person familiar with each artist's style and what each person tends to do (as in "pencils or inks?") would be able to tell, and I'm not that familiar with most of these names. Oh sure, I know Jim Lee, WildStorm's founder and Editorial Director, but the rest of the names aren't totally clicking. I think Lee did the first page or two; and even then I'm not totally sure, since it's possible that different artists may have worked on the same pages.

The mecha art appears to be strongly based on the Toynami Super-Poseable Veritech action figures. The hands on the Veritechs are more mechanical-looking than those in the show, and the neck and leg joints are more detailed and mechanical-looking as well. The large kneecaps are definitely taken from the Super-Poseable toy design; Veritechs' knees are generally NOT that pronounced. The shoulders, though, are very much those of a transforming Veritech design; they're more boxy and less pointy than those on the Toynami Super-Poseables. Very, very slight but noticeable liberties were also made with the VF-1A's head; it's not as rounded as it used to be. Despite the numerous nitpicks, though, the mecha art looks excellent -- much better than most of Antarctic Press's hand-drawn mecha art -- but it does have certain hallmarks which reek of revisionism rather than nostalgia. Then again, revisionism seemed to be quite the order of the day during the 80's nostalgia boom.

The character art is another matter. Dr. Lang is the spitting image of his anime counterpart, despite some weirdness on his lumpily-drawn jowels. Rick, on the other hand, is barely recognizable. He bears a much closer resemblence to the toned-down and kind of hideous Matchbox action figure from the 1980's than his big-haired anime counterpart. He actually somewhat resembles the early test drawings for the character done by Macross character designer Haruhiko Mikimoto during the two years of lead time prior to the beginning of production on the TV series. Between the story and the pin-up art in the back of the book, I swear that I've seen more Rick Hunters that don't actually look like Rick Hunter in this book than anywhere else ever. Usually artists at least try to replicate his big and weirdly-pointed hair; the artists on this book didn't even seem to try.

And the noses look kind of weird, too.

Somehow, though, Roy manages to look sorta like Roy. Perhaps it's that his hair is more generically anime-styled and his face shape more specific than Rick's. Looking at it now, the final shot of Roy actually bears a striking resemblence to the He-Man character design from the 2002 relaunch of that property, with a longer chin. Maybe it's just that I've seen so many weird-looking versions of Roy (due to the revolving door of artists on Return to Macross) I'm much more tolerant of weird Roys than I am with weird Ricks.

Speaking of He-Man, Rick's dad looks a lot like Man-At-Arms from the '02 relaunch as well. Same age lines, same moustache, same face shape, same predeliction for wearing protective headgear ...

In "Boobytrap," Rick says, "You promised my dad you'd return to the air circus when the war was over ..." The only person he promises here, however, is Rick. I assume Roy made that promise before he made his promise to Rick; otherwise the line from "Boobytrap" either doesn't make sense or, feasibly, you could claim Rick decided to bring up his father in "Boobytrap" just to stick a nice, sharp emotional knife in his "big brother" -- after all, it does come right after Rick calls Roy a "killer."

The pin-ups in the back are something of a mixed bag. For the record, they are:
  • Rick Hunter and Lynn Minmei with a VF-1S Super Veritech behind them, by Adam Warren (Gen 13, Dirty Pair, Empowered) on character art and Joe Wight (Twilight X) on mecha. Please note that this is the most correct-looking Rick Hunter in the ENTIRE BOOK. Also note that Wight was a regular cover artist on the Antarctic Press ROBOTECH anthology title in the late '90s.
  • Exedore, Breetai, and Khyron along with a small fleet of Zentraedi ships and a few Zentraedi mecha, by Troy Nixey (Grendel: Black, White, & Red, Jenny Finn) and Jeromy Cox.
  • Claudia Grant, Lisa Hayes, and Lynn Minmei having a picnic with an extremely Super-Poseable Figure-looking VF-1S Skull One giving a "V" hand-sign in the background, by Randy Green (Witchblade, Tomb Raider, New X-Men: Academy X), Rick Ketcham, and Omar Dogan.
  • Max and Miriya's video game battle with a CG rendered showdown between their REAL mecha in the background, by Kaare Andrews (Spider-Man: Reign) on characters and Tipatat Chennavasin on mecha renders. Scratch my comment above, the Rick Hunter in the background HERE is the most correct-looking Hunter in the whole book. Also note that Chennavasin also was responsible for at least one render that appeared in Antarctic Press's Vermilion mini-series and the cover art for the third issue of the Antarctic ROBOTECH anthology title from the late '90s.
  • A "poster art" style piece with Rick Hunter, Lynn Minmei, Zentraedi Battlepods, and the VF-1S Skull One in Guardian mode, by Dustin Nguyen (Wildcats 3.0, Manifest Eternity).
  • A decidedly non-anime piece featuring a horrifyingly well-endowed Rick Hunter carrying a spherical flight helmet, Lynn Minmei, and two Skull-marked and sleeker-than-usual VF-1 Veritech Fighters, by Keron Grant (Son of Vulcan), Rob Stull, and Udon.
  • An all-out mecha battle with proper anime-style VF-1's (yay, no Super-Poseable knees!) of various sizes in front of the SDF-1, by Long Vo and Saka.
Moving a little away from the art to other visual elements of the book, on one of the readouts when Rick is attacking the Monster Destroids, the screen says that the glitch is with the "transportation system", not the "transformation system". Easy mistake, corrected in the trade paperback collection.

This also appears to have been otherwise hand-lettered, one of the very few hand-lettered books put out by a major publisher that I've seen in so many years. Kinda nice, though the lettering is not as clean as the lettering I recall from the days when all books were hand-lettered. Does lend it more of a nostalgic feel, though.

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