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
THE STORYIt 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."
NOTESTIMELINE - Modern Robotech.com 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)
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 pre-Robotech.com 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.