Friday, July 1, 2016


Script: Jay Faerber with Tommy Yune | Art: Long Vo, Charles Park & Saka of UDON
Letterers: Jenna Garcia (#1), John Layman (#2-3), Rob Leigh (#4) & Nick Napolitano (#5-6)
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn | Editor: Ben Abernathy
Special Thanks to: Erik Ko & Tom Bateman

Wildstorm's second ROBOTECH miniseries begins in the year 2031, at the dawn of the Third Robotech War, with a framing sequence as Dana Sterling, formerly of Earth's Army of the Southern Cross, tells her friend Bowie Grant the story of how her parents met. We then jump back to 2009 and follow young Max Sterling and his best friend, Ben Dixon, as they're caught up in the SDF-1's jump to outer space and battle with the alien Zentraedi.

Along the way we see several familiar faces from the "Macross Saga", including Rick Hunter, Roy Fokker, Lisa Hayes, Claudia, Grant, and Captain Gloval. Roy dies battling the Zentraedi and Ben soon follows, and eventually a Zentraedi warrior named Mirya Parina infiltrates the SDF-1 as a spy, meets Max, falls in love with him, and renounces her people to fight alongside the humans.

In 2031 once more, Dana and Bowie board a ship under the command of Colonel Jonathan Wolfe and leave Earth to join Admiral Rick Hunter and his Robotech Expeditionary Force in deep space.

If you're a ROBOTECH fan, most of this may sound familiar to you, and not without cause. For some inexplicable reason, Tommy Yune and Jay Faerber (now credited as co-writers rather than "plot" and "script" as on the previous mini-series) have chosen to retell several scenes from the TV show, usually adapting dialogue verbatim, while interspersing those scenes with bits of their own devising.

Now I have no problem with something like this in theory, but not for a while into a series (or series of mini-series). Wildstorm had just picked up the ROBOTECH license, and Harmony Gold had just begun their reboot effort, when LOVE AND WAR debuted. It's the second in what would turn out to be only four mini-series from the publisher. The concept seemed peculiar to me at the time LOVE AND WAR was published, and in retrospect it feels like a downright shame; a waste of space using six out of an eventual 24 total issues to simply retell stories fans have already seen, even if there are some new tidbits worked in.

The tidbits in and of themselves aren't bad, though, and they do help to further flesh out Yune's new vision for the ROBOTECH backstory. We learn that Jonathan Wolfe, a character who would first appear in the "New Generation" segment of ROBOTECH, was a fighter pilot aboard the SDF-1 during the First Robotech War. Likewise, Claudia's brother, Vince Grant, who appeared in FROM THE STARS and was intended to be (along with Wolfe) a protagonist of the aborted ROBOTECH sequel, THE SENTINELS, was aboard ship as well (though this seems to be stretching things a bit, considering Claudia never once mentions a brother, much less a brother among SDF-1's crew, in the original series).

We also get some fleshing out for poor Ben Dixon and we see Max's interaction with Ben's parents following his death. The framing sequence is nice as well, giving us a look at Dana and Bowie as they leave Earth, explaining why they aren't present in the "New Generation" era.

(Mind you, nearly all of this ground was already covered in the original continuity, whether in the series, in comics, or in novels; I'm simply noting that it's nice to see Yune delve into it as well for the reimagined canon.)

That said, none of these touches can justify the decision to essentially adapt a bunch of scenes from the TV series rather than telling a new, original story. It's clear that Harmony Gold believes -- and they're pretty empirically correct -- that the "Macross" portion of ROBOTECH is the most popular, and as a result they want to lead off this new era with those characters and situations. The first mini-series, focusing on Roy Fokker, did it. This one does too. But there's much more to be done with this era than simply retread pre-existing scenes. Why not look at the lives of the characters following the Macross Saga, filling in gaps between that segment's finale and the beginning of SENTINELS, when they all leave Earth? We'll soon see that the cancelled sequel did take place in the new timeline, if in a slightly altered form. This could've been Yune's chance to lay out his vision for SENTINELS. Heck, the old canon got an entire comic book series and a novel out of the Post-Macross/Pre-SENTINELS era; surely some of that material could've been adapted and reinvented instead of this?

At any rate, after the somewhat strong start by FROM THE STARS, LOVE AND WAR is a bit of a letdown. The artwork is still great but the story concept leaves a lot to be desired. And the scripting by Faerber, which mostly just lifts dialogue verbatim from the TV show, is a notch below his work in FROM THE STARS AS WELL. The dialogue in ROBOTECH is often hokey, but the actors speak it so earnestly that it works. Here, as simple words on a page, well -- the hokiness is amped up a hundredfold and you can really see how bad it is.

Hopefully the next mini-series, INVASION, will rebound from this one's failure, but before we get there we have a couple of backup serials to look at...

No comments:

Post a Comment