Friday, July 22, 2016


Story: Tommy Yune | Script: Jay Faerber
Art: Takeshi Miyazawa & Omar Dogan w/Alan Tam (#5)
Letterers: Phil Balsman (#1-3) & Rob Leigh (#4-5)
Colorists: Studio XD (#1-2), Long Vo (#3-5) w/Charles Park & Saka (#4-5)
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn | Editors: Ben Abernathy & Alex Sinclair
Special Thanks to: Erik Ko & Tom Bateman

Wildstorm's ROBOTECH line continued in 2004 with INVASION, though in retrospect one wonders if the various mini-series were perhaps selling less than originally anticipated. FROM THE STARS debuted in 2002 with a #0 issue followed by a six-issue series, every one of which (except #0) featuring two covers, standard and variant. 2003 saw the release of LOVE AND WAR, six issues also with variants for every one. Now we reach 2004 and INVASION, which is a five-issue mini-series featuring a variant for only the first installment. By the time we get to 2005 and Wildstorm's final ROBOTECH mini-series, PRELUDE TO THE SHADOW CHRONICLES, we'll encounter a five-parter with no variants.

So, over the course of four years Wildstorm would produce a whopping four ROBOTECH mini-series, with the number of variant covers and the number of issues per series decreasing over time. And I should note that it's not the number of mini-series I find odd; Harmony Gold was carefully rebooting their "expanded universe" at the time and all the various tie-ins were masterminded by Tommy Yune, who was also producing the then-upcoming ROBOTECH: THE SHADOW CHRONICLES direct-to-video animation. Yune was certainly busy, and one series a year was probably all he and the company were willing to handle. It's more the decline in series length and variant covers that stands out to me.

At any rate -- ROBOTECH INVASION is set in the "New Generation"/Invid invasion era of the original series, though properly speaking, its placement in the timeline puts it between the "Robotech Masters" saga and "New Generation". It follows Lt. Lance Belmont of Mars Base 10, a fighter pilot in an attempt by the Robotech Expeditionary Force's first attempt to retake Earth from the alien Invid.

Perhaps a bit of backstory is in order, as I've only touched on this briefly in the prior reviews: 85 episodes, divided up into three "sagas", comprised the original ROBOTECH series. After the first saga, "Macross", Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes left Earth with the Robotech Expeditionary Force ("REF") to seek out the homeworld of the Robotech Masters and pursue peace with them. Earth was left alone for more than a decade, but in that time, the Masters had departed their planet as well, bound for Earth. Their arrival set off the Second Robotech War, covered in the "Robotech Masters" saga. The Masters were defeated, but Earth's remaining military was gutted in the process, leaving the planet ripe for invasion once more.

Shortly following the defeat of the Masters, the Invid -- ancient enemies of the Masters and their clone army, the Zentaedi -- came to Earth as well, easily conquering it. Humans were left mostly alone in the post-apocalyptic, Invid-controlled world, and that's where the third saga, "The New Generation", picks up: Earth is occupied and a small group of resistance fighters, led by a pilot from Mars under orders from Rick Hunter, make it their mission to destroy the Invid hive, Reflex Point, and liberate their ancestral homeworld.

Here, we see the REF's initial attempt to retake the Earth, which meets with disaster. Fighter pilot Lance Belmont survives the ill-fated assault and spends some time in a small South American village, where he's hounded by Invid sympathizers and the Invid themselves, and where he befriends a beautiful girl named Carla. Now calling himself "Lancer", our hero leaves town with Carla and meets up with the Earthbound resistance, consisting of other REF survivors, including his former commanding officer, Olivia Stahl. Lancer participates in Olivia's group attack on an Invid hive and survives once more, only to learn that Olivia has been transformed into an Invid agent and has intentionally led her men in a suicide attack. Lancer kills Olivia, is briefly reunited with his former wingman Dmitry, then allows Dmitry to sacrifice himself to destroy the hive.

As the story ends, Lancer has adopted the identity of Yellow Dancer, a female lounge singer, to move about more easily. He's severed ties with Carla in favor of continuing his mission to battle the Invid. In the final issue's closing pages, Lancer meets up with the small band of freedom fighters who will soon become like his family.

I'll admit that I have no real soft spot for the "New Generation", for a few reasons. First among these is that when Cartoon Network carried ROBOTECH in the late nineties, they inexplicably aired only the first two sagas, and as a result it was a few more years until I finally saw "New Generation" when the series found its way to DVD. As a result, this segment of the saga has never felt as "real" to me as the prior two. But beyond that, the characters and situations of "New Generation" have simply never connected with me in the way "Macross" and "Southern Cross" did.

So from a personal standpoint, this isn't my favorite of the WildStorm ROBOTECH comics. It at least has the benefit of not simply rehashing old material as in LOVE AND WAR, and in fact it follows a similar pattern as FROM THE STARS, acting as a prequel to ROBOTECH's third saga, focusing primarily on one character and his relationships. In that way it's fine and for fans of Lancer, I'm sure it's great. For me, I would've rather seen a prequel to "New Generation" focus on some other member of the cast, such as group leader Scott Bernard or the token "big strong guy", Lunk.

Nonetheless, INVASION deserves some praise simply for not being as lame as LOVE AND WAR. The story's not bad and the twist at the end with Olivia is a genuine surprise. It's an acceptable "untold story", but -- and perhaps I'm wrong -- I can't imagine that many people were clamoring for Lancer's "secret origin". Unlike FROM THE STARS, which told a decent story while also setting up major backstory for the overall ROBOTECH saga, INVASION has little to contribute to the overall ROBOTECH canon.

Some stories are untold because they don't need to be told, and this is one of them.

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