Friday, July 15, 2016


Story: Tommy Yune | Art: Omar Dogan with Simon Yeung
Letterers: Phil Balsman (#1-2), Rob Leigh (#3), Pat Brosseau (#4) & Jared Fletcher (#5)
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn | Editors: Ben Abernathy & Alex Sinclair

ROBOTECH: INVASION, which we'll discuss next time, features a human fleet returning to Earth from colonized Mars in the year 2039. As a thematic tie-in to that tale, INVASION's backup serial chronicles the origin of Earth's first Martian base, appropriately titled "Mars Base One".

We begin our story in 2006 with some familiar faces seen previously in FROM THE STARS and LOVE AND WAR; namely Admiral Hayes and Doctor Lang. Lang's assistant, Karl Riber, begins dating Hayes's daughter, Lisa. Meanwhile, Hayes's wife is killed in a bombing by the Anti-Unification league, but this doesn't deter him from his duty to keep Earth safe from alien invasion. While Lisa leaves for the Robotech academy on Macross Island, Karl heads to Mars, where Hayes has commissioned a base devoted to reverse-engineering Robotechnology found aboard the SDF-1.

But the Zentraedi, searching the galaxy for SDF-1, arrive at Mars Base a few years later and attack. Nearly all crew are killed, save Karl and his commanding officer, Colonel Rodriguez. Rodriguez gives his life to fire off a blast from the base's cannon, destroying the Zentraedi ship above, while Karl sends a message to Admiral Hayes informing him of the attack and bidding farewell to Lisa, as he will surely die long before help could arrive from Earth. As the story ends, Hayes realizes the countdown to alien invasion has just been vastly accelerated.

It's established in the ROBOTECH series that Lisa had a fiancee named Karl Riber who perished in an attack on the Mars Base (and that Minmei's cousin Kyle reminds her of her late love), but beyond that, the circumstances behind the attack on the base are unrevealed in the show. I believe (though I could be misremembering) that the original ROBOTECH "expanded universe" pegged the destruction of Mars Base and Karl's death as the result of sabotage by the Anti-Unification league, and that's the cover story planted here by Admiral Hayes after the dust has settled.

But in this new, revised backstory, Tommy Yune has decided to make this battle the first skirmish between Earth and the Zentraedi. I like this idea. We already know the Earth government has kept the SDF-1's origins a secret from the populace for years and that they're well aware a race of gigantic alien warriors will arrive sooner or later to take it back. Having the Zentraedi assault Mars adds an extra layer of ominous tension to the ensuing few years. Hayes and Earth Command now know that the Zentraedi are most likely on to them. Will an invasion arrive a year from now? A month? A week, a day?

Beyond that, Karl's fate is suitably melodramatic and depressing in the best ROBOTECH fashion. Overall, between filling in some blanks from the past and setting the stage for the future, this is a pretty good story. I wouldn't have minded seeing it fleshed out into a full-length mini-series in its own right.

That said, it's not without a failing -- though in this case it's not a huge deal, but it's worth noting. Traditionally in most versions of the ROBOTECH fiction, Doctor Lang's dialogue is written in a phonetic German accent. Just recently (for us), Jay Faerber did it in FROM THE STARS and LOVE AND WAR. I'm okay with that; I don't necessarily love it, but I grew up on Rogue's "Ah" for "I" and Gambit's "de" for "the" in X-Men comics, so phonetic accents aren't really anything new to me. But Yune (credited here as "story" with no scripter, I assume he handled dialogue) goes utterly, painfully overboard with it. Check out this gem:
"Kongratulations on de successful test und activation of de reflex furnace! Now vith a viable power source, de rekonstruktion of de SDF-1 eez another step closer to reality! I apologize dat ve had to send you all de vay out to Mars to carry out dees test. You understand Admiral Hayes vould never risk our alien prize if ve had inadvertently broken some law of physics in de process of reverse engineering de Robotechnology!"
I don't know what the heck that's supposed to be, but it's sure not German. It's some weird German-French-Batroc-Chekov-who-knows-what hybrid. It's hard to read and I daresay it's kind of offensive, too. (Also, it's neither here nor there, but who decided Lang should have a phoentic accent when SDF-1's Captain Gloval, who has a Russian accent on the TV series, normally has his lines scripted accent-free?)

Fortunately Lang has very little dialogue in this story, but even his short scenes are painful to get through. Lang will pop up again before this ROBOTECH project is over, and we can only hope someone more competent is assigned to script those appearances.

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