Friday, June 24, 2016


Though originally published under the simple title of ROBOTECH, this mini-series was retroactively named FROM THE STARS with the release of the trade paperback edition.

Story: Tommy Yune | Script: Jay Faerber
Art: Long Vo, Charles Park & Saka of UDON* | Letterer: Jenna Garcia
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn | Editor: Ben Abernathy
Special Thanks to: Tom Bateman, Erik Ko, and Sandra Hofman

Wildstorm's inaugural ROBOTECH mini-series, masterminded by the franchise's creative director, Tommy Yune of Harmony Gold, functions as a prequel to the 1985 animated series, filling in a great deal of backstory for one of the show's major characters and his world.

The story begins in the year 2015, not long after the conclusion of ROBOTECH's first segment, "The Macross Saga". Captain Rick Hunter, Veritech fighter squadron leader, takes some time to reminisce about his late friend, mentor, and surrogate "big brother", Roy Fokker. We then jump back in time to the year 1999 as Roy leaves the flying circus run by Rick's father to enlist in the armed forces as a pilot in the ongoing global war. Six months later, Roy witnesses the arrival of a UFO on Earth in the South Pacific.

There's another time jump and six years later, in 2005, Roy returns to the circus but is quickly convinced by his former commanding officer, Admiral Hayes, to come back to the service as a test pilot. Roy arrives on Macross Island, where the UFO crashed, to find the new United Earth Government developing all manner of hi-tech vehicles and equipment. Under the command of a former mercenary named T.R. Edwards, Roy becomes the lead test pilot for Project: Valkyrie.

The remainder of the series is set in 2006 and follows Roy as he slowly learns the true nature of Project: Valkyrie and the UFO (rebuilt by Earth forces as a space battle cruiser called the "SDF-1"), and navigates his love life with former flame Claudia Grant, now stationed on Macross as a communications officer. In the end, Roy thwarts a plot by the dastardly Anti-Unification League to destroy Macross, and the stage is set for ROBOTECH as we know it. We then jump back to 2015, where Rick takes Roy's old fighter, Skull One, out for one last flight before it's decommissioned, then proposes to his girlfriend, Admiral Lisa Hayes.

I well recall reading this series back in 2002, when it was first released, and being a bit surprised and miffed that Harmony Gold had disregarded what had come before in favor of a new backstory. The mini-series was published around the time the company was gearing up for a new ROBOTECH direct-to-video animated film called THE SHADOW CHRONICLES, and Yune wanted to be sure the licensed comics line up with both the original series and the upcoming sequel. In retrospect, not all that much is changed -- the broad strokes are still the same, and Yune has even kept some bits of existing backstory such as Roy's aircraft carrier during the war being called the Kenosha, as well as his rivalry with T.R. Edwards, who would have been a villain in ROBOTECH's aborted sequel series, THE SENTINELS.

That said, much as I eventually warmed up to Yune's reinterpretation of the saga's beginnings, there are some choices here I'm not so sure about -- though they mostly spring from a narrative standpoint, rather than one of continuity. Yune inserts a couple scenes into the story which were originally depicted as flashbacks from Claudia in the ROBOTECH episode "A Rainy Night". In the original animated version, we get the impression Roy was a womanizer who eventually came around to a monogamous relationship with Claudia. Here, Claudia sees Roy flirting with a couple women, but it turns out both occasions were misunderstandings, retroactively changing the intent of those original scenes.

We also get questionable cameos by characters from the later ROBOTECH sagas, such as General Anatole Leonard from the "Robotech Masters" era, here presented as a young(er) colonel with secret ties to the Anti-Unification League. Roy's commander on Macross Island, Edwards, is also a clandestine member of the League. It's not necessarily that I object to these appearances on principle, though; quite the opposite. They help to flesh out the universe and draw connections between the original three ROBOTECH "sagas".

But Yune lays on the intrigue and melodrama so thick here, one feels he's cramming in more material than a six-issue mini-series can contain. There are enough ideas and kernels in FROM THE STARS for a few years' run on a regular monthly comic! Indeed, many years ago, there was a ROBOTECH series called RETURN TO MACROSS which did much the same thing, following the adventures of Roy and his friends on Macross Island before the first episode of the original series. An updated version of that series, an ongoing prequel by Yune and UDON, would've been a great way to go with these comics back in 2002, in order to better fill in the new backstory.

But instead six issues are all we get, and while they seem a bit over-crowded with more story ideas than they can comfortably contain, they do an excellent job of reintroducing readers to Roy, Rick, Claudia, Edwards, Captain Henry Gloval, Doctor Lang, Admiral Hayes, and more, while also setting up the revised continuity as concocted by Yune.

Beyond Yune's plots, the rest of the book is capably handled. UDON on artwork is rarely a bad thing, and while Long Vo doesn't quite have the characters' likenesses down, he gets it pretty darn close. The colors are gorgeous and lush, and the script from Jay Faerber, who is best known -- to me, at least -- as the writer of GENERATION X and a NEW WARRIORS revival in the late nineties, is serviceable -- with the exception of the horrifically thick and over-the-top phonetic German accent he gives to Project: Valkyrie's lead engineer, Doctor Lang. Lang was a very minor character in the ROBOTECH TV series, though he had a massive role in its various spinoffs and sequels, and I believe the phonetic thing is an artifact of those older comics -- though I don't recall it ever being as abominable as it is here.

That said, I have to give creativity points to Faerber (or maybe Yune) for finally coming up with a reason why Macross Island is called Macross Island -- in the original Japanese source material, "Macross" was the name of the SDF-1 and it meant Macro Space Ship. But with that name dropped from the American adaptation, the island was called Macross instead. Here, dialogue indicates there is a sister island named "MacMartin", which would seem to imply that Macross should actually be parsed as "MacRoss". This archipelago in the South Pacific was apparently settled at some point in the distant past by Scotsmen!

*Issue 0's art by: Jim Lee, Ale Garza, Carlos D'Anda, Lee Bermejo, Trevor Scott, Richard Friend, & Sandra Hope, with letters by John Workman.

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