Robotech: Academy Blues (Academy Comics Ltd.)
Ongoing series / May 1995 - February 1996, Dec. 1996
Story by Robert W. Gibson
Most academies have long histories and traditions. Ours is less than three years old. Most schools are built around famous historical sites and landmarks. Ours is built around something that dropped out of the sky. But the most important, most meaningful difference is that wheras most other military academies were formed between boundaries, ours was formed beyond boundaries. There are no countries here, no nationalities ... no borders. Just people.
A spin-off of the ongoing Return to Macross
title, Academy Blues
follows the adventures of Lisa Hayes, Kim Young, Vanessa Leeds, Rolf Emerson, and other future war heroes in their days as cadets in the Robotech Academy, dealing with experimental futuristic machinery as well as everyday problems.
Not that there is
such a thing as an everyday problem on Macross Island ...
Much like Warriors
before it, Academy Blues
was a logical extension of the idea behind Return to Macross
-- the tales of the Macross Saga
cast before the First Robotech War. Where Warriors
showed us Breetai and Exedore scouring the galaxy for the SDF-1 and Return to Macross
covered Gloval, Fokker, and Dr. Lang fighting the forces that would destroy the Robotech project, Academy Blues
turned its attention on Lisa Hayes and the rest of the SDF-1's bridge crew, along with future Army of the Southern Cross chief of staff Rolf Emerson, learning the ropes at the Robotech Academy. Consequently, this series held little room for high adventure, focusing more on the characters and their relationships.
While the six-issue series, written by former Eternity Comics Captain Harlock
writer Robert W. Gibson, got a few minor points wrong (par for the course in the Eternity/Academy pre-Macross
material), for the most part it maintained the feeling
of the good ol' Macross Saga
days, even more so than the series it was spun off from. This probably has a lot to do with the characters involved and artist Sean Bishop's early involvement in the series -- of any ROBOTECH comic artist, Bishop managed best to match the style of the original animation.
Unfortunately, as the series wore on the stories grew less and less about Lisa and company and more about side issues tying into Return to Macross
, drifting the series away from its original remit. While that gives the appearance of cancellation due to low sales, ultimately it's unclear why Academy Blues
folded so early. It is worth noting that Robert Gibson become the bimonthly writer on Return to Macross
soon after Academy Blues
ended, and the book's cast was integrated into the parent title for what would be its final story arc.
In the last month of Academy's ROBOTECH titles, a one-shot called Breaking Point
ultimately tied up the loose ends of Academy Blues
and the Robotech Academy storylines in Return to Macross
, although it did this in a rather vague way due to poor lettering and rushed, unclear artwork by final Return to Macross
artist Dusty Griffin.
- Issue 0 - Academy Blues
- Issue 1 - Tests
- Issue 2 - Roles
- Issue 3 - Tremors
- Issue 4 - The Calm Before ...
- Issue 5 - The Wind and the Wave
- Breaking Point: Cadet Lisa Hayes Special #1
Super Dimension Fortress Macross #1
Editing & Script - Carl Macek
Pencils - Svea Stauch
Inks, Colors, and Production - Phil Lasorda, Gerry Giovinco, with much help from Vince Argondezzi and Dotty Linberg
Letters - Carrie Spiegle
Production Assistant - Aaron Keaton
Published by Comico The Comic Company.
Release date - Approx. January 3, 1985
Cover date - 1984
THE STORY"The alien invasion began almost coincidentally. A mammoth interstellar fortress ripped through the fabric of hyperspace on a collision course with the Earth. Whether by chance or some obscure twist of fate, this alien vessel was drawn toward the unsuspecting planet. The ship appeared over the South Pacific as a destructive fireball racing across the nighttime sky. Most people interpreted the incident as though the Earth had been struck by a giant meteor. Most people had other things on their minds ... like trying to survive World War III. An uneasy peace eventually came to his global conflict. The peace was the result of a group of people who knew that what hit the Earth was not a meteor ... but a machine of destruction--the product of an alien technology lightyears ahead of that of the Earth's. A United Earth Government was formed. Its sole purpose was to create a global defense system utilizing the reconditioned space fortress as an offensive weapon."
Ten years pass. On the day of the maiden voyage of the rebuilt alien space fortress, now christened the Macross
, citizens of the metropolis that grew around it worry that without the ship their home will become a ghost town. They watch as a limousine carrying Captain Gloval
and Senator Russo
passes by, and two citizens comment that without those men the ship would never have been repaired or funded.
Inside the limo, Russo tells Gloval to cheer up. "In less than half an hour, the Macross
will be in your command. The least you could do is act like you're having a good time." Gloval remarks that he had his
good time last night and worries that they might not be doing the right thing with the Macross
On the bridge of the space fortress, Lisa Hayase
arrives to tell the rest of the crew to look sharp, because Gloval's limo has arrived. "I don't know what's gotten into the captain ... coming aboard so late. He practically missed the entire ceremony." Claudia
tells her that he probably got the most out of his "shore leave."
"Well, Claudia ... some of us consider duty before pleasure," Lisa quips.
Claudia asks if she's referring to her seeing Lt. Commander Fokker
the night before, and states that what she does on her own time has no effect on her performance as an officer. Lisa asks about Roy, and Claudia points out that during the war Roy shot down five enemy planes with a hangover. Before she can add anything, Lisa suddenly notices something on her radar screen. It's a tiny plane piloted by one Rick Yamata
, invitation #1021. Lisa confirms that as an invitation from Lt. Commander Fokker and gives him a heading for landing.
Below, Roy Fokker narrates the actions of the newly-designed Valkyrie Fighters
overhead. Suddenly a little air racer appears among them and a loudmouthed pilot addresses Fokker.
"It's been a long time Captain! You sent me this invitation -- now tell me where to land."
Fokker tells his old friend that this is no playground, but Rick counters that he's not here to play -- he's here to show Fokker how a real
pilot can fly a plane! He nearly takes off Fokker's head with a low dive, then fires his boosters and joins the Valkyries in a burst formation. Rick lands his racer and Roy takes off after him, demanding an explanation. As Rick climbs out of his plane, he reminds Roy that he was the one who taught him the booster climb. Roy comments that he heard he won the amateur pilot competition last month and asks about Rick's family. "You promised my father that when the war was over you'd come back to the air team," Rick reminds him. Roy apologizes, then notes how he shot down 180 planes during the war. "So, you're proud of being a killer?" Rick asks. Roy says it's kind of hard to explain. "When you start flying those fighter planes .. well, something happens inside of you ... and nothing seems the same." Rick figures he could be right. "But for now," he says, "why don't you start by giving me the grand tour?"
On the far side of the moon, a fleet of Zentraedis
warships materializes from hyperspace. Aboard the flagship, Commander Breetai
asks his aide Exedore
if this was the quadrant he traced the transmission to, and also asks if he checked to see if the ship executed a refold. Exedore states that the computer indicates that there was no second jump, and that the ship must be on this planet. "Perhaps their damages have forced them to retreat to this zone," Breetai suggests. "There is a good possibility that we can end this war within the hour." He orders a recon vessel to go down and investigate.
Back on Earth, Rick admires one of the new Valkyrie fighters. He tells Roy that while it looks impressive, he wonders how it handles. Roy suggests climbing aboard and finding out for himself. As Rick climbs on-board, Roy asks if Rick has the guts to fly one of these things. "Just as long as I'm at the controls," Rick quips.
Elsewhere on the island, Russo is making a speech about how what an asset Macross
has been to the community and is introducing Gloval when an officer arrives to tell Gloval that sensors have detected unusual activity near the moon and he's needed on the bridge. Just as Russo prepares to turn the microphone over to Gloval, he takes off for the bridge.
On the bridge, Claudia remarks that every system on-board is starting up on its own. The booms that make up the front third of the ship begin to separate and energy begins to crackle around them. Gloval makes it to the bridge and, as his head slams against the too-low doorway, he tells the crew to shut down all the systems. As energy surges between the Macross
's twin booms, Claudia attempts to shut off the ship's power, but to no avail. The guns, as Claudia notes forebodingly, are
going to fire. Lisa asks what they're going to do, but Gloval has no answer.
Suddenly, the pent-up energy between the booms discharges, blazing forth over the rooftops of the city, through the island's terrain, and into space, obliterating the Zentraedis scout vessels.
Watching the carnage, Breetai notes that this attack confirms Macross
's presence on that planet. He orders all ships to advance in full balance formation immediately.
Claudia reports that the computer is responding to their programs again, and Lisa asks Gloval if he's all right.
On the ground, Rick is stunned by the display. "What are they trying to do, blow the island apart?" Roy leaps out of the Valkyrie's back seat to find out what's going on.
Lisa receives the space monitor report, which states that what they were attacking appears to be two large objects out in lunar orbit, probably spaceships. Gloval concludes that this was a booby trap. "The aliens who abandoned Macross
must have armed it with an automatic defense system designed to detect and destroy their enemies. The system's activation means that an unfriendly force has approached close enough to be a threat to the Macross
." Out of nervous habit, Gloval pulls out his pipe. Just then, Sammy pipes up, telling him that there's no smoking on the bridge. "I wasn't going to light it! I was just holding it," he comments, putting his tobacco back in his uniform jacket. He asks Claudia for a report on all systems and orders Lisa to scramble all fighters and prepare for combat.
Below, Roy orders the runway cleared and the Valkyries armed.
In space, Armour 1-A
base responds to the Zentraedis' approach. Lancer space fighters are launched and attack upon visual contact; at the same time the space platform begins bombarding the Zentraedis craft with missiles. Their attack has little effect. Breetai orders a standard laser bombardment, and when the space platform breaks out its nuclear weapons, he finds this simply amazing. "Primitive nuclear weapons," he muses with a quizzical grin, "and it appears that they have not raised their particle beam shields." Exedore wonders if it's a trick of some sort to lull them into a false sense of confidence, and also wonders why they haven't broken out their reflex weaponry. "These soldiers act as if they've never engaged in real space combat before," Breetai notes with a sinister smile. "Press the attack."
In moments, the Zentraedis' intense laser barrage rips Armour 2
to pieces and Armour 1-A makes a hasty retreat before it shares Armour 2's fate.
Word soon reaches Captain Gloval. He muses how the aliens have shattered his hopes of world without war, and orders Lisa to prepare the Macross
for combat. She orders the Valkyries to take off.
Back on the Zentraedis flagship, Breetai spots the Macross
among what he refers to as "the most disorderly display of primitive military organization that I have ever seen." Exedore points out that while it does resemble Macross
, it looks strangely different. Breetai assures him it is no trick, and that the initial reflex weapon attack was a clear invitation for battle. Still, he advises all ships to proceed with caution.
Zentraedis fighters break through the atmosphere. The Earth forces fire a barrage of missiles to counterattack.
On the exhibition ground, Rick is awakened from his slumber in the Valkyrie cockpit by an order from Lisa to take off. He tries to tell her that he's not a combat pilot, but his words are met on deaf ears. He tells her that the runway is demolished, but she tells him that runway 2 is clear, and that he's holding up the rest of the squadron. Thus, the brash young amateur is thrust into the thick of battle.
Rick takes off to the skies and is met by the sight of hundreds of dazzling explosions. In the air, he is reunited with Roy and asks his former mentor what the hell is going on. "Rick ... so you decided to try your hand at being a fighter pilot after all," Roy comments with a smile. Rick insists that it wasn't his idea, and Roy tells him that while combat can be scary, it's really not too much different from the good ol' days at the flying circus. While Rick talks big about not leaving his old friend behind, he finds himself blasted out of the sky within moments. Stunned, Roy tells Rick to climb and bank, but Rick can't get control of his craft.
As Rick's Valkyrie dives towards the Macross
, Lisa radios Rick and tells him to switch to Battloid
mode. Rick has no clue what she's talking about, but she tells him to pull down the control marked "B" on the left side of his console. He pulls the one marked "G" instead, and gears and hydraulics within the craft begin to turn and hiss, changing the fighter into a squat, avian robot resembling a bird of prey. It continues to fall, finally crashing into a mess of buildings as Rick realizes he's pulled the wrong lever. He pulls the one marked "B", and soon the Valkyrie Fighter shifts again into a more humanoid configuration. As it rises to its feet, Rick wonders how he can get out of this "flying nightmare."
- This is a mostly
faithful adaptation of Harmony Gold's English language version of the first episode of the Japanese television series Super Dimension Fortress Macross
, "Boobytrap," which was soon after adapted into the first episode of the ROBOTECH TV series. As such, with a few character name swaps and some minor rewrites here and there, it can fill the shoes of "Boobytrap" in any version of the ROBOTECH timeline.MAJOR CHARACTERS
- Tommy Luan (last seen in Return to Macross #37)
- Henry J. Gloval (last seen in Civil War Stories #1)
- Senator Russo (last seen in Return to Macross #24)
- Lisa Hayase [Lisa Hayes] (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #11 "Prototype 001: Variants Part 4")
- Claudia Grant (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #11 "Prototype 001: Variants Part 4")
- Vanessa Leeds (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #8 "Prototype 001: Variants Part 1")
- Kim Young (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #8 "Prototype 001: Variants Part 1")
- Sammy [Sammie Porter] (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #8 "Prototype 001: Variants Part 1")
- Roy Fokker (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #11 "Prototype 001: Variants Part 4")
- Rick Yamata [Rick Hunter] (last seen in Robotech: The Graphic Novel)
- Lynn Minmei (last seen in Robotech (WildStorm) #4)
- Lynn Jason (first appearance)
- Breetai (last seen in Metalswarm #1)
- Exedore (last seen in Metalswarm #1)
This is a ROBOTECH comic only on a technicality.
This is the first issue of what would, a few months later, be called Robotech: The Macross Saga
. However, it was published before the names and plot elements unique to the ROBOTECH version of Macross
were created. As such, there are no references to "Zor's battlefortress," or Robotechnology, or even Rick Hunter
-- he's got a different name, though oddly enough, it's not Hikaru Ichijyo. This comic was created to tie into Harmony Gold's VHS release of the first three episodes of Macross
, advertised in the back of this very comic book. (Those curious can watch the first half hour of that release on Elements of Robotechnology V
, the extras disc released with the Robotech Legacy Collection 5
DVD box, also available with the Protoculture Edition
complete remastered series DVD box set.)
The character names are an interesting mixed bag of ROBOTECH names, original Japanese Macross
names, and names that seem to have been changed almost at random. The worst offender is the name of our brash young amateur pilot hero; originally named "Hikaru Ichijyo" in the original Japanese program, here he becomes "Rick Yamata," which is almost "Rick Hunter" but is still kind of
Japanese. Similarly, "Misa Hayase" becomes "Lisa Hayase," which is almost "Lisa Hayes," but again is still Japanese, though more faithfully in that case.
Otherwise we're in ROBOTECH territory, complete with "Henry Gloval" and "Roy Fokker" instead of "Bruno Gloval" and "Roy Focker." The technology retains its original flavor, with Valkyries instead of Veritechs and the Macross
" rather than the nameless SDF-1. And oddly enough, as you may have noticed, the word "Zentraedi" is permanently plural for some bizarre reason. It wasn't so in the Space Fortress Macross
pilot episode produced by Harmony Gold that ties into this comic book, so I don't know what the deal with that is.
I believe it is as a consequence of this book's non-ROBOTECHness
that "Boobytrap" was adapted twice more into comic book form -- first as Comico's one and only 3-D ROBOTECH comic special, with a strikingly unique scripting job by The Macross Saga
and The New Generation
dialogue wizard Markalan Joplin and art by The Macross Saga
mainstay Mike Leeke, and then in the mid-1990's Return to Macross
and Academy Blues
artist Sean Bishop would do a staggeringly faithful black & white adaptation of ROBOTECH's first episode. Both are a cut above this adaptation, but neither are in full color like this one.
Despite some stilted dialogue here and there, Macek does a pretty solid job of adapting the first episode of Macross
into comic book form, complete with lines that are remarkably faithful to the Japanese version (Claudia talking to Lisa about Roy's service record while hung over) and to the ROBOTECH version that eventually aired on American television (Gloval's explanation of the "booby trap" is almost word for word from the TV series, minus the references to the Macross
). Some scenes are needlessly overexplained, such as Rick's VF-1D's transformation -- Macek added the accidental switch to GERWALK when its pass through that mode was considered a legitimate transition to Battloid in the actual episode -- and he uses a few cliches like they're going out of style, such as two instances of "duty before pleasure" and the bit where Rick awkwardly spits out, "Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing," at the end, but the trims and the pacing of the adaptation work nicely. I especially like what Roy says to Rick about flying fighter planes: "When you start flying those fighter planes ... well something happens inside of you ... and nothing seems the same." Vague and kind of awkward, but certainly a much more substantial statement than that horribly overquoted line that replaced it in ROBOTECH -- you know the one:
"This Robotech thing is just so exciting I just couldn't give it up! It just gets in your blood or something, I don't know."
There's a weird bit of mistranslation during the attack on the space platforms. Breetai refers to the humans' "primitive nuclear weapons," then Exedore asks why they didn't destroy the Zentraedis with their "reflex weaponry." I'm not clear on how this got bungled between the Japanese script, the English language series script, and Macek's comic script, but what they call "reflex weaponry" is more commonly translated into English as "reaction weaponry," which in fact is a different way of saying "nuclear weaponry." It was only in ROBOTECH that the term "reflex" somehow came to mean Protoculture-based -- at this point "Protoculture" hadn't even been redefined yet, after all. The point being, though, that I have NO idea what, in this version of Macross
, Exedore would be referring to when he mentions "reflex weaponry."
As far as the artwork goes: at first glance, the painted art in this book is kind of stunning, in a good way. As ROBOTECH series producer -- and this issue's script writer -- Carl Macek helpfully points out, all the character and mechanical art was done on animation cel-like overlays, while the backgrounds were painted on separate layers. The effect is quite nice. It's a shame the character and mecha art on the whole isn't very good, and to be honest, I'm not sure who to blame. The attention to detail is there, but the raw talent doesn't seem to be present. I think it might be fair to split the blame between penciler Svea Stauch and the inking staff. After all, there seem to be some decent shots ruined by sloppy inks, but there are some shots which have odd, awkward poses.
Most of the more well-staged shots are directly adapted from the show, which means that for serious fans of the show reading the comic gives the weird sense of looking at it through a fun house mirror. To put a finer point on it, it's immediately recognizable as something familiar, but somehow not as good -- kind of like watching the dumb, poorly-written and cheaply animated cartoons you loved as a child years later with all your adult sensibilities, only without the weird sense of guilt.
As an aside, notice how the cover depicts the Macross
in its humanoid "attack" mode, while the ship doesn't enter that configuration (and in fact cannot
enter that mode, since the fold drives are still intact) until episode/issue #5.
Also, that VF-1J on the cover is a bit huge
, isn't it?
This issue was, almost two decades later, reprinted in the Robotech: The Macross Saga Vol. 1
trade paperback, published by WildStorm/DC Comics (January 2003). However, a few changes were made. The text of all six issues reprinted in the volume was relettered by computer. In some cases, especially in this
issue, that involved changing the content
of the text as well. That version of this issue features ALL of the proper ROBOTECH terminology (although some references to the ship as "Macross" remain) and also features a number of additional changes, including spelling and punctuation changes and the addition of certain bits of dialogue which brings it closer to the first episode of the ROBOTECH TV series. For instance:
Original: "The alien invasion began almost coincidentally. A mammoth interstellar fortress ripped through the fabric of hyperspace on a collision course with the Earth."
Revised: "In 1999, a giant alien battlefortress ripped through the fabric of hyperspace on a collision course with the Earth."
Original: "Most people interpreted the incident as though the Earth had been struck with a giant meteor. Most people had other things on their minds ... like trying to survive World War III."
Revised: "The general public interpreted the incident as though the Earth had been struck by a giant meteor. The rest of the world was preoccupied ... in the clutches of a global war."
Original: "When you start flying those fighter planes ... well something happens inside of you ... and nothing seems the same."
Revised: "When you start flying those fighter planes ... well, something happens inside of you ... it just gets in your blood."
(That seems a fair compromise, to be honest.)
Original: "Amazing Exedore. Primitive nuclear weapons. And it appears that they have not raised their partical beam shields."
Revised: "Very heavy resistance. But why are they using such primitive weapons? Our scout ships are breaking through."
(Note that this fixes one of my concerns above.)
Original: "With what? We have fired all missiles, sir. And the aliens are beyond the range of our lasers."
Revised: "Mayday! Mayday! This is Armor-2 space cruiser calling SDF-1. Come in, SDF-1."
This is merely a sampling
of the changes made, though I'm pretty sure this covers all of the major
rewrites for this issue. Just be aware that the version of Macross
#1 that appears in The Macross Saga Vol. 1
is not an entirely faithful representation of the comic book published back in the 1980's.Next issue
Robotech: Covert Ops #1 (of 2)
Art & Story - Gregory Lane
Edits, Typesetting, & Proofing - Doug Dlin
Cover Colors - Nathan Lumm
Published by Antarctic Press.
Release date - August 19, 1998
Cover date - August 1998
Estimated sales - 5,000 copies
Above the fourth moon of Saturn, Pandora
, a VF-1E reconnaissance Veritech makes sure the coast is clear in advance of the SDF-1
. Everything seems secure, until the sensor operator notices a large stationary structure of definite Zentraedi
origin on the moon's surface. As the operator sends the data back to the SDF-1, two Zentraedi Powered Armors rise from the installation to attack. As the crewmen try to escape, the pilot radios the SDF-1 to call for backup, but by then the Zentraedi are already upon them.
Meanwhile, inside the SDF-1, crews begin to work on repairing the damage made during Roy Fokker
and Max Sterling
's battle with the Zentraedi warlord Kohrah. "Well, Little Brother, looks like you moved into the barracks just in time," Roy tells Rick Hunter
as the younger pilot stares up at one of the ruined buildings.
"Yeah, I've got some luck with buildings," he tells Roy. "If I'm not crashing into them, mine gets blown up."
They start towards Claudia
's place for dinner, and Roy asks Rick how it's going with Minmei
. "I don't know," Rick says. "I can't seem to get any time to talk to her. There's always a crowd around her." Roy tells him just to do what he always did -- dinner, flowers, and a ride in the sky. Rick says it's just not his style.
Just then, Sammie
radios Roy from the bridge. Captain Gloval
and Commander Hayes
need him immediately. As he starts away, Roy tells Rick to try and explain to Claudia. "Don't worry," he tells Rick, "I doubt she'll kill the messenger."
A few minutes later, in Gloval's office, the captain informs Roy of an alarming transmission from a long-range scout "It appears the Zentraedi have established an outpost on Saturn's fourth lunar satellite, directly along our return heading to Earth." He shows Fokker some photos they've received, and tells him that the photos were followed by a mayday call and then silence. The scout is assumed destroyed, and the enemy probably knows the SDF-1 is in the vicinity. Roy notes that the base looks small enough that he could just take the Skull Squadron in and flush the Zentraedi out.
"We can't risk a frontal assault, Roy," Lisa tells him. "We're still down three anti-gravity units from our last encounter, not to mention the civilian casualties." Roy asks what the alternative is -- after all, a change in course would add months to the trip home. Lisa has another idea. "To avoid risking the entire ship, I propose we send in a small assault team to remove the base surgically. I've already got tactical working on the base layouts to determine where to plant explosive charges that will destroy the complex." Roy thinks it sounds dangerous, so naturally he volunteers. He is ordered to assemble his team and prepare to move out in two days.
At that moment, Rick rings Claudia's doorbell. "I hope you boys are hungry!" she says as she opens the door. "I've been cooking all--" She observes Roy's absence. Rick starts to explain, but she's tired of excuses and tells him to come on in.
Two hours later, Rick finds Roy in the hangar, working on Skull One, and tells him Claudia seemed really hurt. Roy assures him the call was important. "I'll patch things up tomorrow after she cools down. Right now, I need your help." He hands Rick a list and tells him to contact these pilots and have them meet the two of them in briefing room four at 0700 hours tomorrow.
At the Zentraedi base on Pandora, Lord Buran
orders his men to make their report. One of his patrol groups has captured the crew of a Micronian scout ship alive. "The nearest Micronian base is on the fourth planet, which they call Mars," Buran notes, "and it fell easily. A Micronian presence here must mean the SDF-1 is near." He orders his men to bring the captives to him, so that he might interrogate the Micronians personally. "And request an audience with Supreme Commander Dolza. These Micronians are our opportunity to escape this desolate rock and return to glorious battle."
The following morning, in briefing room four, Roy explains the mission to the gathered personnel. "Before I go into mission specs," he tells them, "I want to make it clear that chances are good some or all of us won't be coming back from this mission, so if anyone wants out, speak up now. We won't think any less of you."
Max, sitting in the front row, asks Roy if he's kidding. "This is what I've been waiting for," he says. Roy mentions that he didn't think there'd be any takers, but he prefers to ask. He explains that they've determined that the Zentraedi base is in a mountainous region on Pandora's surface.
"The mission is simple. Our strike force comes in low, using the terrain for cover. Zentraedi are accustomed to all-out warfare, not stealth attacks. Two fighters stage a bombing run for diversion while a second team infiltrates the target and plants explosive charges to take it out. The tech boys have already pinpointed the locations of the power generators from the surveillance photos. Everything goes according to plan, we're in and out and back in time for cocktails in the officers' lounge -- on me." Max worries that two fighters might not present much of a problem for the Zentraedi and asks if they'll have enough firepower. Roy tells him they've got it covered -- all the Veritechs will be equipped with the new VF-1X armor they've been testing. "The extra missile packs they carry should be plenty. Plus we'll need the extra fuel and booster packs to reach the target." Fokker then explains the breakdown of the teams -- he and Max will pilot the fighters and provide the diversion, while Rick and Hansen
will pilot retrofitted trainers and assist in planting the explosives. The back seats of the trainers will be used by Jones
, the demolition specialists. "We leave at 06:00 tomorrow. I want all gear checked and ready by 05:45," Roy tells them. He informs them that they'll be off duty until then, and should go spend the rest of the day with their loved ones, though the mission information is classified as they don't want a panic among the civilian population. The personnel are dismissed.
Rick comes up to him after the meeting, feeling unsure that he's qualified for this mission since he's had no experience in combat yet. "Are you kidding?" Roy asks. "Rick, you're one of the best pilots on the ship. I handpicked each member of this team for his distinctive skills. Relax and enjoy the day. You'll be fine." Rick tells Roy he's got a lunch date with Minmei, which reminds Roy that he's got to do some "damage control" with Claudia.
A few hours later, with five minutes remaining until the shift change on the SDF-1's bridge, Lisa calls Claudia out into the hallway for a quick chat. The other bridge girls are certain there'll be some sort serious friction.
In the hall, Lisa tells Claudia that she doesn't see why she's to blame for Roy volunteering to lead the mission on Pandora. "Oh, come on," Claudia says, "you and Gloval knew he would jump in as soon as you told him." Lisa reminds Claudia that Roy is the senior combat officer, and HAD to be told about the mission. "Just because you lost your man doesn't mean I want to!" Claudia snipes. As the words leave her mouth, Claudia starts to backtrack, telling Lisa that she's sure Karl made it out of Sara Base and is waiting on Earth right now. Lisa returns to the bridge, and Claudia begins to worry how the rest of the day is going to turn out. She pushes the button for the elevator, and as the door opens she finds herself face to face with Roy with a picnic basket under his arm. He invites her for lunch.
Back on Pandora, the elder member of the VF-1E crew tells the younger to give up trying to escape. The younger man asks why they haven't been killed, and the older one says the Zentraedi probably want information. "My guess is we can expect a very unpleasant interrogation. I've been in this spot before back during the war in South America. I wouldn't talk then, either." The younger crewman insists he won't talk either as the Zentraedi commander Buran enters. Buran introduces himself and demands the location of the SDF-1. "You and the rest of your Jolly Greens can all go straight to hell!" the older crewman tells Buran. "You're not getting anything out of us!" Buran orders one of his men to remove the shield from their prison. It is done, and Buran picks up the younger crewman. "We have observed the strange concern Micronians bear for each other's lives. Provide the coordinates of the SDF-1 or this one will be terminated," Buran tells the older crewman. The young guy tells his fellow crewman to tell Buran the coordinates, but he refuses. "Very well," Buran says as he crushes the younger man.
Back in Macross City, Rick enters the Chinese restaurant in search of Minmei. She seems happy to see him, and tells him she'll just be a couple of minutes while she changes her clothes. In the meantime Uncle Max asks Rick if he's seen any combat yet. "Just in the simulator," Rick says, "but it won't be long."
As she returns, Minmei grabs Rick by the hand and tells Max she'll be back in an hour. "Don't be late this time," he warns her.
In the park, Roy and Claudia relax over lunch. She tells him that she has to admit he did well. "This was a beautiful picnic. You'd better lay off the wine, though. You've got an early mission tomorrow." Roy reminds her he does some of his best flying tanked. Claudia asks to what she owes the pleasant afternoon. Roy admits, "I figured I owed you some quality time." She tells him she was pretty steamed and took some of it out on poor Rick. "I hear you took a run at Lisa, too," Roy says. Claudia says she blamed Lisa for him going on the mission, but realizes she was just feeling too hurt to consider that Lisa was just doing her job. Roy doesn't get why Claudia's so steamed about this particular mission -- after all, it's no more dangerous than some of the others he's been in. Claudia realizes this, but has an unnerving feeling that something terrible is going to happen. "I don't want to lose you," she tells him. Roy assures her that she won't, and the two embrace.
Elsewhere in the park, Minmei tells Rick she always enjoys coming here because it reminds her so much of Earth. She takes him down to the stream to feed the ducks, and adds that she sometimes even forgets that they're out in space. As Rick looks up at the high metal ceiling above he remarks that there's always something there to bring reality crashing in. "I'm glad I got to see you today," he tells her. "I've been wanting to spend some private time with you for a while, and this might be my last chance." He tells her that he's going on a mission tomorrow and might not come back. At that, Minmei shoves him over, and tells him to stop being so gloomy. "You should be like me," Minmei tells him, "and make the best of the situation. Think about happy things -- like my birthday, for example." She tells Rick that her uncle's planning a sweet sixteen party, and she was going to invite him, but now she doesn't know. "On the other hand," she says, "if you cheer up a bit, you might get a special invitation." Suddenly she realizes she's running late and, as she bolts off, wishes him good luck on the mission.
Moments later, Lisa is standing on a bridge overlooking the park. "The end of another shift and no one to go home to," she thinks. "Claudia didn't mean it, but she was right -- I've forgotten what it's like to have someone in my life." She wishes that Karl hadn't volunteered to go to Sara Base, but remembers how he always put his pacifistic ways above his personal life. At the same time, Rick passes by, worried that Minmei seems more concerned about her birthday party than his mission. He absent-mindedly runs into Lisa, and they both apologize. Realizing who he's face-to-face with, Rick quickly salutes, but Lisa reminds him that they're off duty. She asks if he's taking a walk, and tells him that she often comes by here to think before a big operation. Rick tells her he was just on his way home, and finds her behavior odd -- usually by now she'd be at his throat. Lisa asks if that was Minmei he was talking to, and asks if they're dating. He says he's not sure yet, and tells her he's got to go over the mission specs, so he has to get going. As he races away, Lisa notes that while he acts so odd sometimes, he is
kind of cute ...
Back on Pandora, Lord Dolza
appears on Buran's monitor and asks what he has to report. Buran informs him that while he has not located the SDF-1, he has captured the Micronians who were scouting his secto and he believes they are from the ship. However, he is having trouble extracting its coordinates. Dolza tells him to continue his efforts. Meanwhile, the Robotech Masters
have a new Protoculture weapon to be used against the Micronians, and Dolza informs Buran that he is sending the Boturu fleet under Lord Khyron
to Pandora to test it. Buran finds this unnecessary, but Dolza will not be questioned. "Upon successful completion of the tests, your squadrons will accompany his fleet to Earth for final victory," Dolza orders. "You will provide whatever assistance he requires. Am I understood?" Buran acknowledges, and Dolza signs off. The minute his image has faded, Buran smashes the monitor with a shout of, "HAJOCA!" He knows of Khyron; the Backstabber will probably test the weapon on Buran's own battalion. He orders the prisoners to be prepared for further interrogation.
The next morning, aboard the Prometheus
, Roy arrives to find his team assembled, with all their gear checked and ready. He tells them to mount up, and asks Rick how he's feeling.
"Armed and dangerous," Rick says.
When each crewman is on-board his craft, the flight crews engage the grapple cranes for the fighters and open the bay doors. Skull Group launches from the SDF-1 and proceeds to Pandora ...
- While this story is set during The Macross Saga
with no overt references to any dates or concepts native to the McKinney novels (i.e. Thinking Caps), it relies on the previous Antarctic Press story Megastorm
for certain plot points. It also directly contradicts the original TV series (specifically episode #6, "Blitzkrieg") and features iconography native to the Macross
movie, Do You Remember Love
. As a result, it doesn't work in ANY ROBOTECH timeline.MAJOR CHARACTERS
- Roy Fokker (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #3 "Megastorm Part 3")
- Rick Hunter (last seen in The Macross Saga #5)
- Henry J. Gloval (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #3 "Megastorm Part 3")
- Lisa Hayes (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #3 "Megastorm Part 3")
- Claudia Grant (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #3 "Megastorm Part 3")
- Max Sterling (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #3 "Megastorm Part 3")
- Sammie Porter (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #2 "Megastorm Part 2")>
- Kim Young (last seen in Robotech (Antarctic) #2 "Megastorm Part 2," next in The Macross Saga #7)
- Lynn Minmei (last seen in The Macross Saga #5, next in The Macross Saga #7)
- Uncle Max (last seen in The Macross Saga #5, next in The Macross Saga #16)
- Hansen (first appearance)
- Jones (first appearance)
- Lambert (first appearance)
- Buran (first appearance)
- Dolza (last in Return to Macross #4, next in The Macross Saga #11)
Let me lay this key continuity problem out a little more clearly ...
At the end of Megastorm
, the SDF-1's overdrive maneuver sends it from Jupiter to the asteroid belt, from which it should
proceed to Mars, returning us to the TV series narrative. In Megastorm
, three of the SDF-1's anti-gravity modules are destroyed, which is cited as one of the reasons the SDF-1 doesn't just charge into battle over Pandora; this directly ties the two stories together. Yet
, for some reason the SDF-1 has doubled-back towards Saturn, given the need for a VF-1E to scout ahead
to its moon Pandora. Roy suggests that going around Pandora will cause them to add months to their voyage -- but it looks like they've already covered that
Making matters worse ... Max Sterling is removed from active duty to cover up the testing of the VF-1X Super Veritech equipment at the end of Megastorm
, yet is hand-picked by Fokker (and gung-ho to go) in Covert Ops
at odds with his nervous, never-flown-in-space portrayal in episode #8, "Sweet Sixteen." Rick looks at him like he's crazy -- maybe when he sees Sterling later he doesn't put two and two together? Certainly the nervous, sickly-looking young guy he meets in "Sweet Sixteen" is totally
at odds with the confident, eager young pilot he meets here.
Even more problematic ... Rick tells Uncle Max that he's never flown a mission
before, and makes sure to remind Fokker of the same after the mission briefing. Megastorm
works best between episodes #6 & 7. Episode #6, "Blitzkrieg," is
Rick Hunter's first action, at the Battle of Saturn's Rings. Roy's internal narration in "Blitzkrieg" notes it, Minmei mentions it enthusiastically when she and Rick meet at the park where she's wearing the dress they picked "together," and while this has all the feel of a "top secret" mission squeezed between episodes, Rick tells Minmei it's happening
. How can he tell his not-quite-girlfriend that he's going on his first mission twice
What's clear is that as far as Rick's story goes, this is supposed to either fall before "Blitzkrieg" or maybe instead
of it. Lane spends a lot of time making references to events that will occur in the near future: "Bye Bye Mars" is set up extensively
, with references to Sara Base, Karl Rieber, and Khyron. "Sweet Sixteen" is set up in the scene with Minmei, where she talks up her birthday party. The only piece of the puzzle reflected here that's missing if "Blitzkrieg" happens after this story (or not at all) is Rick and Lisa's antagonistic relationship -- Lisa recognizes him and knows he's a pilot, which she didn't
until Fokker properly introduced them the day before Rick's first action -- you know, the scene where Sammie calls Rick "Mister Lingerie."
The other major continuity problem with the book is that nearly every single design in the book
is taken from the Macross
movie Do You Remember Love
, starting on page 1 with the VF-1E recon variant Veritech Fighter. The RDF was still using Cat's Eye recon planes at this point (see episode #7, "Bye Bye Mars," and episode #10, "Blind Game"), if they ever did
wind up with the -1E variant in the ROBOTECH universe (hey, it's always possible
). The Zentraedi Powered Armors that attack and capture the fighter's crew are the Do You Remember Love
variants, though in the next issue the different mecha and combat armor designs are explained away as a sort of tribal difference.
Almost all of the RDF uniforms and weapon systems feature Do You Remember Love
designs and detailing -- the little buttons on the collars, the multiple rank stripes, the pilot jumpsuits, the slightly different VF-1A head -- heck, even the Coca Cola machine Roy passes by as he runs away on page three is a Do You Remember Love
design. And yet there are occasional reminders that we're in the ROBOTECH universe -- the demolitions experts are wearing TV series uniforms, a character on a video billboard at the top of page three is wearing a TV series-style intra-atmospheric flight helmet (no visor and chin), and most importantly, the SDF-1 still has the Daedalus
attached and NOT two ARMD space platforms. (Which makes the crane launch on the last page really strange -- when would they have had time to add that
functionality to the Prometheus
? And better, WHY?)
Despite the Do You Remember Love
styling of all the Zentraedi equipment, our heroes are still facing TV series-style Zentraedi -- they still have hair and round ears. (Do You Remember Love
's Zentraedi are all bald and pointy-eared.) I am struck by the fact that on page six the Zentraedi seem to be equipped with helmets and shields far more reminiscent of the Masters' Bioroid Terminators' equipment -- unless that's Do You Remember Love
equipment I'm not familiar with, which is highly
Aside from very rough inks, the art throughout is beautifully detailed and solid -- Lane clearly knows these characters and designs backwards and forwards, inside and out. His Minmei looks a bit old for her age (sweet sixteen coming up), but that's probably just because he's using the movie character design. Buran strikes an imposing figure -- no wonder Lane wanted to use the Do You Remember Love
uniforms, he wouldn't look quite as impressive
in anything else -- and doesn't look out of place next to more familiar faces.
Especially sharp-looking are the last three pages, where Lane cracks out the gray tone patterns, giving those pages a very manga-flavored feel. Those pages feel a lot sharper, a lot less inky.Question:
As our story opens, Roy tells Rick that he "moved into the barracks just in time." Is this a sarcastic remark, with the building they're standing in front of being the barracks Rick just moved into, or is Lane suggesting that Rick was living in this building before he enlisted? Because right before he enlisted, Rick was temporarily living above Minmei's aunt & uncle's Chinese restaurant (see episode #5, "Transformation").
Until the publication of "Mars Base One," the backup strip that ran in WildStorm's Robotech: Invasion
series, it was considered a misconception
that the Zentraedi destroyed Mars Base Sara -- after all, in "Bye Bye Mars," Exedore says it was destroyed "in a battle with their allied forces," meaning other humans. The story now
is that Sara was wiped out by Zentraedi long-range scouts, though it was hushed up, and the scouts never made it back to Dolza with a report, meaning the Zentraedi shouldn't know it was taken down by their fellows. Buran says it went down "easily" -- and according to "Mars Base One," that wasn't the case. But of course, "Mars Base One" was published six years later ... and until that point, Exedore's statement in "Bye Bye Mars" should still have stood as what really went down.
The Super Veritech equipment, as in Megastorm
, shouldn't be in use yet, though at least this time there's a story-related reason for using it. The very same month as this was published, the first issue of Lee Duhig's two-issue mini-series Wings of Gibraltar
has the Super Veritech equipment just under development
much farther along in the timeline, post-"Paradise Lost" (episode #20). Where in the blue blazes was the editorial oversight? (Answer: nowhere
. Why do you think Antarctic Press lost the ROBOTECH license?)
Fun fact: outside of Robotech The Sentinels: Rubicon
, this is the only
time Minmei appears in an Antarctic Press ROBOTECH comic book story. Also, the way that she and Uncle Max's remarks toy with Rick's emotions is quite
reminiscent of the way Minmei's words played with his feelings in "Transformation." Lane has some trouble with the words
, but boy does he have the melody
I was positively ecstatic when I saw Lane using the Zentraedi term "hajoca," one of the words created by long-time ROBOTECH comics writer Bill Spangler way back in Eternity's The Malcontent Uprisings
. While that's a rather strong term to be throwing at the Supreme Commander of all Zentraedi forces, it was still a pleasant sight to see in an Antarctic Press publication.
Also, kudos to him for writing Buran as an honest-to-goodness character
rather than a monster-of-the-week like Megastorm
's Kohrah or Wings of Gibraltar
's Calen. The mega-weapon that Dolza describes doesn't even arrive
in this story -- Buran doesn't get a gimmick to fight his foes with, like a fancy kewl new mecha or cloaking shields. He has to get by with traditional Zentraedi tools -- albeit Do You Remember Love
-styled Zentraedi tools.Next issue
Labels: Covert Ops, Macross
Robotech: Covert Ops (Antarctic Press)
Mini-series / August - September 1998 / Story & Art by Gregory Lane
Everything goes according to plan, we're in and out and back in time for cocktails in the officers' lounge -- on me.
In the aftermath of Kohrah
's devastating attack, the crew of the SDF-1
is faced with an enemy force located on the fourth moon of Saturn, Pandora
. When a VF-1E recon plane goes missing, Robotech Defense Force intelligence discovers the culprits hiding out on Pandora and, taking a suggestion from Commander Hayes, devises a strategy to destroy the base with a small team of specially equipped Veritech Fighters. Roy Fokker
, Rick Hunter
, and Max Sterling
lead a demolitions team to the target, but find themselves confronted with a desperate foe hungry for glory.
Out of all the people who worked on ROBOTECH comics for Antarctic Press, Greg Lane
probably had the second most experience with the property after Megastorm
writer and Rolling Thunder
writer/artist Fred Perry
, who inked and toned the first issue of Cyberpirates
and several issues of Invid War
back in the day. Lane had penciled a few issues of The Malcontent Uprisings
in the early 1990's for Eternity, and since then had done a number of anime-style comics for smaller publishers, including Mecharider
and Danger Girls
(not to be confused with J. Scott Campbell's more well-known Danger Girl
Despite his qualifications, however, Lane's first two issues of ROBOTECH material for Antarctic, a side-story set during the SDF-1's long trek back to Earth, crossed a very vexing line. As if it wasn't enough of a black mark that he was writing and drawing a sequel to Antarctic Press's incompetently-produced debut outing Megastorm
, almost all of the character and mechanical designs Lane used in Covert Ops
were from the 1984 motion picture Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love
for short) -- from the bridge uniforms, to the flightsuits, to the SDF-1's bridge layout, to the Zentraedi base and armor design, right down to the Coca Cola machine on page 3 of the first issue. I understand that it was his preference to do so, as he's more partial to those versions of the Macross
character and mecha designs -- buuuuuuuuuut
The problem is that DYRL
is not a part of ROBOTECH. DYRL
is a fancy, redesigned retelling of the original Japanese Macross
television series, but it was never adapted into ROBOTECH. Consequently, at no point should Rick Hunter
be wearing a DYRL
flight suit, nor should the ROBOTECH version of the SDF-1 be launching Veritechs via crane-arm. Moreover, at the time, Harmony Gold didn't even possess the rights to the DYRL
designs -- I'm pretty sure they do now
, thanks to a licensing agreement with Tatsunoko Productions earlier in the 2000's, but in 1998, this was not
It's worth pointing out, though, that Lane does not use DYRL
designs all the time in this series -- indeed, on page 7 of the first issue, you get an eyeful of the contrast that appears throughout Covert Ops
. The SDF-1 body we see is based off of the DYRL ship design, while the Daedalus
are straight out of the TV series. Hence, the SDF-1 gets the intricate detail treatment, while the deck of the Prometheus
gets TV animation-level detail work. The Zentraedi soldiers at the base on Pandora are all dressed in DYRL
Zentraedi gear, but when Dolza appears on Buran's video monitor, it's the TV series bald-guy-in-a-robe that appears, not the movie's weird piecemeal floating torso jacked into a plant-like fortress. That dichotomy is rather pervasive throughout -- Covert Ops
is a story which in so many ways tries to be true to the TV series, despite the fact that the author insists on using much of the movie's eye candy
If Covert Ops
weren't tied into Megastorm
, and didn't have the non-canonical art design, and as a separate issue didn't have the SDF-1 doubling back to Saturn (they passed Jupiter while heading towards
Earth -- according to Megastorm
itself, they should have passed through the asteroid belt by now), it would actually be an excellent side-story. To tell you the truth, as it stands it's actually a fun ride. The characterization is excellent and the artwork is very well done -- Lane does a good job emulating character designer Haruhiko Mikimoto
's style to a degree (though the inking, as Lane himself admitted at the time, is not that great), and the mecha action is about as solid as you can get when gray tones are few and far between. There are only a few confusing fight panels, mostly those without a dark space background for contrast.
To sum up, it's not a terrible Macross
-era mini-series -- in fact, it compares very
favorably to the rest of Antarctic's Macross
-era offerings due to the strong characterization both visually and verbally, some excellent scene staging, and -- best of all -- the little touches that recall the Eternity and Academy days (Zentraedi villain Buran's furious shout of "HAJOCA!"). It just doesn't work very well as either a sequel to Megastorm
or even as a side-story in proper ROBOTECH TV series continuity. Well worth a read if you're in need of a quick ROBOTECH fix, but from a pedantic fanboy standpoint -- as an interlocking piece in the grand tapestry of ROBOTECH -- quite a mess. (Lane's follow-up, the New Generation
one-shot Class Reunion
was better on several counts.)