Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Return To Macross: Issues 19, 14-15

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

In this post I will be covering Academy's Return to Macross comic books (issues 19, 14-15). If you don't know this is my year long Robotech Adventure! I am reading/watching the entire epic in order throughout all of 2012. You can read all about my plans in this blog. Feel free to join in and comment where necessary.

Return to Macross #19 (Academy 1995)
Sean Bishop is our Artist on this issue. He seems to have stuck to the more Anime look which is nice.

This comic takes place in 2005 and involves Rick Hunter visiting Macross... uh... really? Now from my memory Rick was 16 when he arrived on Macross island in 2009 so that would make him 12 here... So you are telling me he made the flight halfway around the globe to visit Roy? Oh well, I'll let it ride.

On page 6 there are some signs and one is interesting. It says Avatar... Academy could see into the future!

The first half of the comic is Rick running around Macross with all other Macross players just out of range (their parts come later). We see Lisa and Claudia walking down the hall. The Bridge Bunnies and Claudia leaving a movie (with Lisa running out before that).

The artist has a real grasp on the characters' appearance. He did a really good job portraying all of them.

On Page 21 Gloval's pipe is HUGE!

On Page 22 there is a poster on the wall with the Yamato that says 'now playing'. This goes along with the 'now playing' sign that Rick passed earlier. Little did they know there would be a live action Yamato movie in the year 2011.

Return to Macross #14 (Academy 1994)

We take a jump back in time a bit and head to issue 14 which takes place chronologically after issue 19. Our artist is Wes Abbot who does a pretty good job with the Anime look.

We are dealing with the micronized Zentraedi that was running loose a few issues back. He is in a type of suspended animation since the 'Knight of Knives' stabbed him.

On page 5 there is a club called Bamboo 7. I guess this ties into the Bamboo Disco seen in the series...

Apparently someone is out to get the secrets from Lang but who is the question...

Return to Macross #15 (Academy 1994)

This take centers around one of Roy's old buddies that is having some mental issues in regards to his past.

On page 12 there is an ad for Protoculture Addicts. I wrote a blog post in 2010 about my enjoyment of that particular magazine (at least the first 10 issues of it). Go here and read it. As a side note, I plan to read and review those as well in this Blog.

Alright, that's all for now. This issue is split (that's why it's so short). The other half is Robotech: Warriors. In my reading schedule that is the next title so my next post will start with this 'half issue' and then the rest of the Warriors series (only 3 issues). Later!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Licensing in the Robotech Universe

by Nathan Stout (of According To Whim.com)

Robotech seems to be the victim of cheesy licensing. I guess back in the 80's it wasn't too much of a big deal who you gave your license to. As long as the money came in, you were good. I think George Lucas changed that with his Star Wars lines in the late 80's through today. Perhaps it was just inevitable that rights holders would pick and choose and have final say over what their creations showed up on. Back to George, apparently Lucas chose to take (as part of his pay on Star Wars) the rights to the merchandising. THAT was a master stroke. He raked in the money with everything from the toys to party supplies. Over the years I have heard that Lucasfilm has been very picky about who they grant licensing to and what products come out (and the quality of those products).

Robotech (as a brand) was and is held by Harmony Gold. Harmony Gold sold Robotech out like a cheap pimp back in the day. There was the usual products sporting the Robotech theme such as party goods, toys, and the like but they didn't seem to care who bought those right or how well (or poorly) those products were.

This blog is about some of the items that Harmony Gold let their Robotech brand get slapped on. First I will pick the biggest chunk of the licensing... the toys. Matchbox bought the rights to the line and boy o boy did they do a job on that! Robotech figures were... how shall I say it... poorly executed. Sure, this was the early 80's but there were plenty of examples of how to do an action figure RIGHT. It looks like Matchbox chose to pick the G.I. Joe line as the basis for their figures. The construciton looks very similar but the end result is hideous...
The seem to have been built alright but the oversized heads and the short torsos made them look like circus freaks. The other toys in the line like the ships all appear to be re-releases from their Japanese counterparts which means the look pretty badass.
So the action figures and vehicles were alright (not great but not too bad). Where Harmony Gold really dropped the ball was pretty much everywhere else. I am not including the Comico comics in this since they seemed to be about par for comic books at the time.

Here is some examples of what I am talking about. First up is an old favorite... Have you ever seen those stoybooks that came with tapes or records, a read-along book?
The Robotech read-along was made by Peter Pan and it is quickly apparent that whoever produced this item did not know anything about Robotech. I won't even mention the art work inside. If you are interested in checking out the inside of the book, read it here at the 'Let's Anime' Blog. Thanks to them for the image above.

My next item is a 'Press and Stick' Robotech set. Look at this thing...
Most notibly the SDF-1 is upside down, you are seeing the bottom of it. No biggie but it is apparent that the producers of this set didn't realize the art was a bottom up view of the ship. Did I mention that an Alpha fighter is marked as a Veritech. It's just another example of a company that knows nothing about Robotech putting out a Robotech product. Oh yeah, and why the hell is Henry Gloval in there? He is a captian, not an action-type charcter. I guess smoking a pipe is action enough.

Oh crap! That would scare me to death on Halloween.

Next on my list is are not even poorly made items, just stuff that has NOTHING to do with Robotech at all! This stuff just seems to be random toys that Harmony Gold said 'sure, go ahead, slap the Robtech name on it'.

What the heck are these???
What the???


Uh, cool but what the heck?

So I figure you get the picture here. Harmony Gold was out for the quick cash and knew that they better get while the gettin' was good. As a fan and sometimes collector I find all this fun but dissapointing at the same time. By the way the gun shown in this last picture has a bit of a history to itself. The white part was modified and used to make the guns the aliens used in the 80's TV series 'V'.

Do yourself a favor and click on the link above. These are classic commercials! I particuarly enjoy the last one on the video. Dana Sterling kicks ass during the day killing so many of the Master's troops then spend the afternoon working out. Also, notice how Rick Hunter is such a man-whore.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Return To Macross: Issues 7-13

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

In this post I will be covering Malibu's Return to Macross comic books (issues 7-13). If you don't know this is my year long Robotech Adventure! I am reading/watching the entire epic in order throughout all of 2012. You can read all about my plans in this blog. Feel free to join in and comment where necessary. Chris will be joining us on this journey as well and he will be dropping in from time to time.

Just a  note of reference I know the company is Eternity/Malibu so get over it... I'm calling it Malibu. :)

Return to Macross #7 (Malibu 1993)

When Breetai wakes up he finds that he has been tied up. There are all sort of alien body parts including the head of an Alien from the Aliens move (above him).

After some alien fun Breetai and Khyron leave the ship, unprotected into outer space. This sets up Breetai's ability to survive in a no-atmosphere environment before the attack when Max saves Ben, Lisa, and Rick.

The shooter in the story is hold up in Grace Brother's Department Store. This is the name of the store in the British show: Are You Being Served... coincidence?

Low and behold the police show up in ATAC armor. Somehow in the whole of the Macross series these suits never showed up on the streets of Macross City after the Zentraedi come back. Sure, it's nice to see them tied into the whole story but it is kind of wierd. For those of you who don't know that armor is the armor of the Southern Cross forces in the 2nd part of Robotech (more than 18 years down the road in the story).

At the end of the comic there is an interview with the writers/artist of Invid War: Aftermath. It's rather disrespectful of Robotech in general and they talk about how they are interested in doing more editorial in their series (basically giving their anti war slant). As I remember I didn't like Aftermath at all and I think it was that anit-war slant that annoyed me. I will still read it again though. The writer's kept talking about how shallow the whole robot thing was and how they wanted to add depth to the characters. Hello?! That's what Robotech is... it's all about the mecha! Oh well...

Return to Macross #8 (Malibu 1993)

This issue starts with Breetai giving exposition dialogue in the vacuum of space! A ship leaves the alien ship he was on (on page 2) and it looks suspiciously like some ship I've seen before in one of the RPG books. I will have to keep an eye out on that in the future.

Quadrono battle suits pick up Breetai and Khyron... um wait a second... are Quadrono battle suits used only by the female Zentraedi and aren't females supposed to be TOTALLY segregated from the males? And Breetai and Khyron are bare chested...

The alien 'sniper' speaks English... how clever of it to learn so quickly.

Page 19 has a cool shot of the cop punching Roy. I like the angle and action.

Roy turned into a midget on page 23...

Return to Macross #9 (Malibu 1993)

William Jang takes over as artist and it shows. Jang's lines are jerky and seem less confident where Divar's were very precise. It is a look I will have to adjust to.

On page 12 there is a hover car in front of the Robotech HQ. I thought that those only ever showed up in Southern Cross...

There's not alot to say about this issue except for the somewhat disappointing change in art work. I'm not saying it's bad (I couldn't draw like that) but it isn't as good as the previous works. We will just have to see where it goes from here.

Return to Macross #10 (Malibu 1994)

Yeaa! Tim Divar is back!

So Breetai is in some sort of virtual reality simulation but he doesn't know it and Roy farting around at the bottom of the ocean with a hot chick... I wonder how long until he's in bed with her...

The hot chick (captain of the sub they are in) is interested in the building of the Alaska base (grand cannon). This is a nice tie in to later events in the total story.

The Lemaurians have quite the technology. In fact those 'robot suits' don't seem to fit at all into the time period (pre-Robotechnology) that they are in.

Return to Macross #11 (Malibu 1994)

Breetai is still in virtual reality. Khyron is behind it but Breetai gets smart and figures out where he is.

On page 12 is a bird's eye 'fish view' of the SDF-1 that's very interesting. I guess the artist wanted to mix it up a bit. He is good at drawing the SDF-1 in any situation.

Not much to say in this issue. Both and Roy and Edwards are tricking the Lemaurians and Edwards get back while Roy has to fight his way out of his situation.

Return to Macross #12 (Malibu 1994)

Oh crap, Jang is back. Breetai is still being tortured by Khyron but is fighting his way out of his virtual reality prison.

I have noticed that Breetai never has anything scintillating to say. He usually utters 'by the moons' or 'by the void' or 'moons of Phantoma'. I guess they kept the interesting lines to Exedore.

When Breetai is in the machine he is wearing some sort of suit. When the dying scientist ejects him from the ship, suddenly Breetai is wearing his uniform. I guess the writers/artists forgot that a change in clothes would attract Exedore's attention so they just changed his clothes to skip that annoying bit of continuity.

Page 10 and 11 are awesome! It's a double page with Destroids firing on the attack Lemaurians. Nice art work!

Return to Macross #13 (Academy 1994)

So Robotech comics switched over to Academy comics and Academy did something strange and kinda cool. Instead of just starting fresh they kept the comic title and numbering.

Wes Abbot is our new artist and there is a definite Anime look to the characters. The mecha also look pretty good so this should go well.

This issue quickly deals with the Moon base Aluce and Mars base Sera, nice tie-ins to later events.

And according to the reading guide we must jump around a bit. Joint me next time for more of Return to Macross but issues 19 plus 14 & 15.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Return To Macross: Issues 1-6

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

In this post I will be covering Malibu's Return to Macross comic books (issues 1-6). If you don't know this is my year long Robotech Adventure! I am reading/watching the entire epic in order throughout all of 2012. You can read all about my plans in this blog. Feel free to join in and comment where necessary. Chris will be joining us on this journey as well and he will be dropping in from time to time.

Up to this point I have read The Legend of Zor: Genesis mini-series and the Graphic Novel. Those comics basically took place right up to the crash landing of the SDF-1 on Earth. Return To Macross takes place between this time and launch day of the SDF-1. There are a few flash forwards and flashbacks but it MOSTLY follows a timeline.

Return to Macross #1 (Malibu 1993)
The Death of Zor and the wounding of Breetai  begin this issue. It is a VERY QUICK recap of the events in Zor: Genesis but with the change that Breetai is wounded during the Invid attack that kills Zor. In all the other comics Breetai is already wearing the faceplate. The SDF-1 looks very un-alien like in this comic (more like the final, restored ship) unlike it looks in the Comico comics. The story switches to 2004 and Roy Fokker's arrival on Macross Island (for the first time in a long time). While Roy is waiting to land on the island he remeber's back to the exploration he, Gloval, Edwards, and some Marines did five years previous. It caught my attention that in one of these panels it closely resembles a panel from the Comico Graphic Novel. The artist was obviously looking at the Graphic Novel as a resource while working on this series.

Roy is overwhelmed that Macross Island is so changed since the last time he was there. There is a large population there now and an element of disharmony. Conrad Wilbur leads demonstations aganist the military and use of the alien technology.

Return to Macross #2 (Malibu 1993)

The Veritech is introduced in this issue. The artists who worked on this series really had a good grasp of the design and they look sharp.

Roy meets up with his old rival T.R. Edwards. In the years between the SDF-1s landing and Roy's return to Macross, Edwards has moved up in the new United Earth Government. He was sent to Macross to observe and report on the Veritech testing going on. Apparently he is up to more than that though.

Edwards contacts the dissident Conrad Wilbur with some scheme. Edwards only real goal is money, something is brewing and he wants to use Conrad to be his patsy.

The comic jumps back across the universe to Breetai and Dolza who have been giventhe task of finding the lost ship. They are attacked by Invid and Breetai finds himself in deep trouble.

The first time I read this series was really my first introduction to black and white comics. I had read the graphic novel Maus and enjoyed the simple black and white scheme and when I started reading this series I remebered how much I enjoyed it. I like drawing and this type of comic is basically that.

Return to Macross #3 (Malibu 1993)

Breetai gets himself out of trouble and Khyron is introduced in this issue. For some reason Dolza still has Zor's body. I guess this bit takes place not too long after Zor's death and they are just catching up on the storyline.

Edwards talks Conrad into sabotaging Roy's test flight so he can sneak off in the excitement and get some photos of the inside of the SDF-1 (for the highest bidder, ofcourse).

Once again there is a lot of Veritech art in this issue and it is done really well, very cartoon-like and all in porpotion... looks great.

Return to Macross #4 (Malibu 1993)

Conrad is ready to blow up the device on Roy's Veritech but is distracted when a fire breaks out in Macross city and Roy uses the Veritech in Battloid mode to save the people in the building. Conrad's wife died in a similar situation and Conrad changes his mind about the uses of Robotechnology and doesn't blow it up.

Edwards sneaks off in anticipation of the explosions and the ensuing chaos and goes spelunking inside the ship. He comes across someone (or something) and screams. Next thing he knows he is falling out of the ship as if it altered itself to kick him out. He plays it off and sneaks back like nothing happened.

From the panels it appears it is a Zentraedi that Edwards saw since there is a broken-open cloning chamber shown and what appears to be wet footsteps leading out of it.

I believe this is the first time (since the crash) that a living alien is shown inside the ship.

The comic shoots back across the galaxy to show the final rescue of Dolza and Breetai from the Invid thanks to the rescue mission (led by Khyron) sent by the Masters. Later Dolza assigns Breetai the mission of finding the SDF-1 and assigns Exedore to assist. In the Legend of Zor mini-series Exedore was already with Breetai.

Probably the most interesting bit of this issue isn't even the comic itself. It's on pages 25-27. The first thing is an advertisement/letter about Robotech Echo, the BBS for Robotech fans. If you don't remeber a BBS was a Bulliten Board System. You used your modem and dialed up the BBS and communicated with others. It was like a crude and very limited internet. I remeber using the Blasted Trumphet BBS out of Fort Worth, Texas about the time this comic was out. On page 26 was a list of BBS that had the Robtech Echo board on it. Good times...

On page 27 was a list of fan addresses. This was very cool. You could have a Penpal that was into Robotech. Right there on the page were several willing fans you could communicte with. This was great in a day and age when the Inetrnet hadn't connected us all yet. In some ways it seems that the Internet has taken that special feeling away from finding a like-minded fan. They are everywhere now-a-days on the net and most people could just take it or leave it, nothing special.

Return to Macross #5 (Malibu 1993)

This issue starts with Breetai and Exedore coming across something they think might be the SDF-1 but it isn't. Khyron is sent out and the something attacks him.

Back on Earth someone kills Roy's current love interest for some unknown reason (at this point). Did I mention that Claudia has shown up?

Isn't that a snazzy PC on page 15? That CRT monitor could be a boat anchor! Robotechnology at its best!

I found it funny that Claudia came to Roy to stop him from bothering her and by the end of the conversation the roles were reversed and he didn't want her to bother him.

Later we see the mysterious figure from issue 4 that Edwards found inside the SDF-1. We know this because it blurts out the name Zor and he is fairly large. Not a giant as I thought but larger than a normal man.

Finally someone is killing scientist off trying to stop the RDF from continuting work on the SDF-1.

I have commented on the art in this series before but I want to say it again. The artist; Tim Divar does an excellent job. The lines are sharp, the details are nice, and the characters drawn very well. The only issue I had was with Breetai in the first few pages. Tim seemed to miss the mark with Breetai's look there for a bit.

Return to Macross #6 (Malibu 1993)

Page 3 has an awesome drawing of a MAC II and a Gladiator! The artist seemed to have slight problems drawing Gretchen in the next couple of pages.

Roy looks like the lead singer of A-ha on page 7.

Page 23... You hear that?... It's a motorboat pulling Cark Macek up and over a shark infested pool.

Starting on page 27 there is a behind the scenes look at what's going on at Malibu/Eternity comics. Looks like a bunch of geeks to me... I'd fit right in!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book 1: Robotech Genesis - Prologue Through Chapter 2

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

This is the first part of the first Robotech book: Genesis. The Robotech books were the first detailed glimpse into the Robotech universe for me and my friends. The book series took 6 episodes and detailed what happened on screen and created all the bits in between. Sometimes the writers would explain away errors in animation or character's dialogue and sometimes they would expand on what was shown or said.

I pickup my dog-eared, yellowing copy of the first book and look it over. I have had this book for many years and have read them at least 3 times. The front and back covers are cracked and there are large pieces missing where it ripped and the brittle cover came off in places. I refuse to get new ones... at least newer editions. These original editions have the old school art on the front. I always thought the art was crappy and cool at the same time. It gave a 'real' look to the characters and mecha but at the same time they looked badly drawn and sometimes they were scaled all wrong. The artist must have never actually seen the show. I have a Book Club edition of the Red Dwarf novels and it is obvious that the artist never saw the show (or even a picture from the show). Lister is a white guy, Rimmer looks like a farm hand, and The Cat is... literally a cat (in a suit). I love that cover. It's so quirky. That's one of the reasons I like the Robotech covers, they are quirky and they have art that appears nowhere else.

The author of the book series was Jack McKinney. This was a pseudonym for James Luceno and Brian Daley. In an interview from Protoculture addicts they would watch an episode, take notes and then expand on what they saw to bridge the scenes or give greater detail to what happens. In my opinion they did a great job and really grounding Robotech in a more realistic world with their writing. You may know Brian Daley from some Star wars books as well the novelization of TRON. You may know James Luceno from novelization of The Shadow and a few Star Wars books as well.

This first part which covers chapter 1 was written far in advance of the rest of this blog. I wanted to read the parts about Zor while I was still in the middle of reading the comics which dealt with him and his death.


This chapter re-enacts for a third time (but this was the 2nd time, at the time) the death of Zor and the launching of the SDF-1. I always found it strange that Dolza would react so threateningly to Zor (he says if he wasn't under orders to protect Zor he would kill him). I always got from the material that the Zentraedi were clones with the imperative to always follow their Tirolian creators submissively. I guess that means the Masters only but I just though it was strange.

The book suggests that the SDF-1 was Zor's creation whereas in The Legend of Zor comic the Master created the ship and sent Zor out in it (to get rid of him until they needed him). It makes more sense that it was a ship designed by Zor.

Zor is said to have somehow located Earth through his use of the power Flower of Life. In the Genesis: Legend of Zor comics he finds earth with a computer. This leads me to the Flower of Life. In the books and even to some extent in the show the Flower is shown to be not only a source of power but a mind stretching biological organism. It gives abilities to some (like Zor and Lang) and it effects others like a drug (Khyron and Rand). In the Legend of Zor comic it is shown to be simply a plant that can be converted into fuel with no illusion to it's other abilities. I assume that it has the ability to create power as well as alter one's mind in ways that give that person a sort of cosmic link to understanding. The Flower of Life.. super drug.

Chapters 1&2:

This and the next chapter deal with the landing and exploration of the SDF-1. The planet has quickly come together to explore and exploit the alien ship. Fokker and Edwards are there as well as Gloval (the future captain of the ship).

Not too much to say about these chapters. It was content originally created by Luceno and Dailey. I don't believe any of this (other than the general outline of an idea) was out there somewhere. I guess Harmony Gold went with the writing pair's idea on the events right after the crash of the ship.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Reading and Viewing Experience: Robotech Genesis-The Legend Of Zor

by Chris McGinty (AccordingToWhim.com)

I’ve started reading in chronological order, and I’m a little bit behind Nathan. I will presume as I write that you’ve seen the original series, and have at least read the material I’m talking about. If not, then this is your official spoiler alert. I have seen the original series, read the novels of the original series, and some of the comics of the original series. I have seen “Robotech: The Movie.” I’ve not read all of The Sentinels or anything else prior to this reading extravaganza. I’ve not seen “The Shadow Chronicles.”

Going by the chronological list, I started by reading the “Legend of Zor’s Fall.” Or whatever it was called. I almost thought that I was going to be reading the issues a little bit at a time, and then I got into the story, and read all six issues in one night. It wasn’t a bad story to be truthful.

Nathan draws some comparisons to the Star Wars prequels, which may have a lot to do with drawing on Roman history, and like the Star Wars prequels, if I have one complaint it’s that there aren’t too many surprises. In Star Wars, the problem was that we knew most of the major events already. This is partially true for the Zor story as well. The most enjoyable parts of either set of prequels for me were the things that I knew nothing about.

Issue #1 of the Zor mini-series was particularly tough for me. Some of the exposition dialogue was cringe worthy. One of the senators suggests that they mine the really big planet, and Zol responds with something like, “Now you know that the gravitational pull would kill anyone stepping on the planet.” It felt to me like the next panel should have been other senators saying, “This is why we shouldn’t let senators get their family hired to run this world.” And then the next panel should be the foolish senator sulking, saying, “They said there are no bad ideas in brainstorming.” But it’s ok, because later, when they create the Zentraedi, I’m sure he was going, “Hmm. I seem to remember suggesting mining the big planet, and everyone was like, ‘Oh no, we can’t do that!’”

I was also a little perplexed by the whole Arla thing at first. Zor takes her out to park on Blueberry Hill, and it was just odd to me. The character did serve her purpose as the story went on, though if I’d been writing the story, I would have delayed her death until the time of Zor’s death, along side Zor. The fact is that I thought the timing of Zor’s father’s death was pretty poignant. Zor has done so many things against his will, and then the one thing he asks in return, he is denied. Arla’s death as part of the rebellion didn’t carry that same weight.

Then there were the “Legends of the Fall” moments of the story where its like, “Many years passed after that day. Anthony Hopkins got older and started collecting ailments. Brad Pitt’s brothers got older and some of them perhaps died. Brad Pitt… well, he grew a beard.” Like Nathan said, it feels like there might have been some story to be told in those “years later” plot movements.

Aside from these complaints though, I enjoyed the story. It’s a hard balance to strike between just filling in the details of a back story, and writing something that will compel people to keep reading. I think this mini-series got the balance mostly right.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What’s So Special about Special Editions?

by Chris McGinty (AccordingToWhim.com)

Nathan handed me some DVDs one night. It was some sort of re-mastered versions of the Macross portion of Robotech.

“I hate this!” he said.

Ok, it wasn’t that drastic. What he said was that he felt that maybe they overdid the audio portion of the re-mastering. He told me to give it to my 18 year old daughter, who became a Robotech fan when I sat down and watched it with her back in 2005. I told him that she has a better collection of the shows than I do. He said do with it what I would then. I figure that I’ll use it for my run through of all the Robotech material, and then give it to my daughter after that.

This got me to thinking about special editions, and why it is that people can’t just leave the perfection through imperfection alone. There’s really nothing wrong with the material as it was. It’s a little dated, but that’s because it was made almost 30 years ago. What do you expect? It’s like when Ted Turner thought it was a good idea to colourize black and white movies. Why?

I spoke with my brother about this. He is another one who is a bigger Robotech fan than I am. He took a drag of his pipe and said, “Holmes, old chap…”

He doesn’t smoke a pipe.

He said, “This is a lot like the dub/subtitle debate. Do you dub the material to make it easier for the English speaking audience to watch, or do you create subtitles for the English speaking audience to read?” This was an interesting point that I had to take under consideration.

Last year, I watched a Korean horror film called “The Host.” It was pretty good, and I would recommend it for most horror fans, but I would recommend that you watch it with subtitles. The English overdub was terrible. I don’t know if it was the fault of the voice actors, or the people directing the voice acting. I just know that I wish now that I’d just read the dialogue.

My brother made many good points that got me reconsidering the nature of the Robotech discs Nathan handed me. I soon realized that I had something to write:

Robotech Itself – Robotech was a reworking of three Japanese cartoons. The reworking was to accomplish two things. The first was to make it more appealing to the American audience. The second was to adhere to a strict TV scheduling process that required them to have thirteen weeks of episodes for a five day a week schedule.

Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, etc. – I guess the thing that made me realize that re-mastering isn’t all bad was when during the course of the discussion with my brother, I thought of the fact that many of the old analog recordings from bands of the 1970s and before (maybe even some after the 70s) had to be re-mastered into a digital format as part of better archiving, and as part of moving the music onto the CD format. The truth is that while some people might prefer the old analog versions, I don’t think my enjoyment of the music has ever suffered.

Updated Editions – The truth is that even in the realm of books, we sometimes see updated versions of books. If the book discusses money or finance, the totals might be adjusted for inflation. If the book discusses laws or procedures, those may be updated to give more accurate information. Even Steven King’s really, really long book, “The Stand,” was released as a really, really, really long version at one point, with much of the material that was cut from the original printing. This was an update of hundreds of pages.

John Ford – I read about the film director John Ford recently, and I was somewhat saddened to learn that of the 60+ silent films he directed, only a little over a dozen still exist. The archiving process was practically nonexistent at the start of moviemaking. I guess if we can be more assured that Robotech will be around for new generations as well, thanks to re-mastering efforts, maybe it isn’t such a bad thing.

I’m probably like the people who still own “Dark Side of the Moon” on vinyl with some things. Sometimes the flaws that gave the original release of something personality are hard to let go. In extreme cases, like the original Star Wars trilogy, it can feel like maybe people should leave well enough alone. Maybe in the case of Robotech they should have left well enough alone too, but while I was a little opposed before, I’m at least willing now to watch it to see what I think.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Robotech: The Graphic Novel

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Today's post is about Comico's 1986 Robotech: The Graphic Novel. This book was basically designed to fill in the back story that the other Comico comics (and the show) didn't cover. There is a short forward to this effect at the front of the book.

The Malibu/Eternity comics stuck surprisingly well to some of the stuff in this (the much earlier work). Zor is in the same clothes as well as the fact that he is on the base when the Invid attack the planet they are seeding. I might add that Zor's hair looks a little more normal here than the more girly look in the Eternity comic.

On page 8 there is a reference to Gilligan's Island when the SDF-1 is heading into Earth's atmosphere.

After the action that leads the SDF-1 to Earth we pickup with Roy Fokker and how he is involved in the whole matter. We are also filled in on T.R. Edwards and his rivalry with Roy.

Everything comes to a screeching halt (war-wise) when the alien ship shatters mankind's thought that he is alone in the universe.

Something that caught my eye right away was the fact that when the former enemies that battled for supremacy join up in peace to figure out what to do next, they adopt the uniforms of the Western Alliance. That is to say that the Western Alliance is wearing what we all come to know as the uniform of the RDF. I just find it interesting that something like that would happen. Military junk is all about gaining and saving face and for the NE Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere to just melt into the Western Alliance wouldn't happen, it would be too much like giving up and giving in. OK, I am reading way too much into this but hey, that what this blog is all about, right?

Back on the other side of the galaxy the Master are very impatient to get Zor's body back to Fantoma for testing and such. In the Eternity comics the Masters were on Tirol since Fantoma was supposed to have too high gravity for their small size. Here the Master are based on Fantoma. I found it a bit gruesome that they showed the decapitated head of Zor... this rocks! Later there is a dissected marine inside the SDF-1 too.

At the SDF-1 crash site the exploration team shows up and they have a very 'Robotech-like' robot, a walking searchlight to assist. The technology just seems a bit to post-arrival. It looks like something that would be built during the next 10 years of the story... just sayin'.

Inside the SDF-1 the team is attacked by Bioroid troops (Tirolian clones) and not Zentraedi. I found this strange since Tirolian clone troops (oops there's Star Wars again) were for Tirol and it seemed like Zentraedi troops were for Fantoma and outer space stuff. Maybe it was Comico's attempt to tie the Southern Cross story into the Macross story more. If you didn't understand that last bit then read this old blog post where I explain what Robotech is made of (at least the 2nd paragraph).

On page 41 the team activates a screen in Zor's quarters and they get their first glimpse of a humanoid alien life form. This is actually a cool moment. Imagine coming upon something like that. To know that there are aliens out there and they look just like we do. This is a cool concept and moment. An Invid is also shown in the message, once again probably to tie in the New Generation part of Robotech.

The last 3 pages of the Graphic novel quickly sum up the 10 intervening years between the first exploration of the ship to launch day; July 1st, 2009. I am guessing that Malibu felt that those 3 pages would make for some good comic books when they wrote Return To Macross years later.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Legend of Zor: Issues 1-6

Today I will cover thoughts about reading through Legend of Zor mini series. This is the first entry into the complete "Robotech Experience" (I should copyright that). Who knows, if I'm really lucky Harmony Gold will come in with the SOPA and shut my site down! Anyway... this is Eternity's comic and was released around the time of their Sentinel's series.

Legend of Zor: Issue 1 (Eternity/Malibu) 1992

Right off you can tell that Jason and John Waltrip (probably the most famous Robotech comic artist team) worked hard on this comic. Aside from the dopey look on Zor's face the first few pages sets the scene on Tirol. Some of the wide shots would make George Lucas happy. The 'Neo-Roman' look of Tirol society is painstakingly drawn and seriously looks like something out of a Star Wars comic set on Coursant.

The first few pages neatly sets up the energy shortage and the need for a new power source to fuel this techo-society. It also quickly establishes the need to create the Zentraedi race (to overcome the massive gravity of close-by planet full of valuable ore.

In the middle of the first issue there is an interesting section that shows the original pitch and art work that the Waltrip brothers sent in to Harmony Gold trying to get The Legend of Zor approved. It was a neat look into the industry.

Legend of Zor: Issue 2 (Eternity/Malibu) 1992

The story continues with Zor traveling as just another scientist in a ship that looks suspiciously like the R.E.F. design for the Ikazuchi Class Heavy Cruiser. I guess you could suggest that whatever was left inside the SDF-1 when it crashed on Earth was used (such as ship designs) by Lang and his engineers...

On page 4 the colorist mis-colored Zor's purple sideburns the same color as his skin... it's a giant skin tag!

On page 19 there is a character that is there simply to ask where Zor is. Since he is there for that reason alone, he literally doesn't have a face. I found that interesting...

This comic somewhat undermines the whole point of the mini-series. It is designed to explain the origins of all this mess and the Regis mistakes Zor for the person who originally gave the flower of life to the Invid (thus starting the evolution of their race). This makes this story not the 'true' origin of Protoculture... sheesh. So who is the person who gave the Invid the first flowers of life? Who?! Who damn it!!!?

I know this was year before Star Wars Episode 3 but the WHOLE changing of the Tirolian Republic to a Galactic Empire is a bit of a red flag. I think the Waltrip brothers need to sue George Lucas. It's obvious he read these comics and then wrote his Star Wars prequels... no really...

Is it just me or does Zor look like Minmie with purple hair?

Legend of Zor: Issue 3 (Eternity/Malibu) 1992

This issue is the return of the exploration team to Tirol and Zor's ridicule by the new ruling class. Not much to say here. Zor works with the samples he brought back from Optera and can't find how to unlock their power (at least not until the very end of the comic).

Legend of Zor: Issue 4 (Eternity/Malibu) 1992

Zor unlocks the flower of life's energy and the Tirolian society has transformed. Quickly the ruthless Elders devise a plan to develop a slave race of clones as well as a race of gigantic soldiers with their new found power. The Elders (now called the Masters) unleash their Zentraedi from their mining work on Phantoma to quash a rebellion rising aganist the government. We see a fully-eyed Breetai and Exedore on the last page.

Zor says something strange on that last page too. He says 'the Zentraedi have returned', which doesn't make sense because they haven't played any part in the story so far. Perhaps he means they have returned to the place where they were created.

Legend of Zor: Issue 5 (Eternity/Malibu) 1992

Right away on page 2 there is an homage to The Empire Strikes Back when Zor kneels before the Masters and utter's Darth Vader's line: 'What is thy bidding my masters'.

When Zor returns to Optera we find the Invid transformed into more that just slugs. For the next several pages (when Zor's forces harvest the flowers) it looks like something out of a Hannah-Barberra cartoon. The Invid look very cartoon-like. It doesn't help with the Zentraedi walking around, unknowingly stomping around on the whole Invid society.

At the end of this comic the Invid have evolved and it shows the Invid in their eggs? Their sights set on revenge for the rape of their planet by Zor and the Masters. The last frame shows an egg cracking and what do we see... an Invid scout eye. Not an Invid, but the mecha they fly around in... what the heck? I assumed that the Invid were inside the craft, not born in the craft... this is getting strange.

Legend of Zor: Issue 6 (Eternity/Malibu) 1992

In this final issue of the origins of Protoculture and Zor's role in the whole debacle we see several things come together. The Masters built the SDF-1 which they call the Super Dimensional Fortress-One. The name and the reason for its creation is a mystery (another mini-series!) but they shunt Zor off in it to basically get rid of him while keeping him around when they need him.

Breetai is here again, undamaged until the Invid attack on the base where Zor gets fatally wounded.

This final part seems a bit rushed. It all seems a bit rushed actually. There is enough material here to have a full run of comics but if you can only get 6 issues in which to do it you have to cut corners. The basics of what it laid out in the books and show (about Zors involvment) is expounded on just enough to get by with. It would have been nice to see Cabell working with Zor more and how the technology Tirol evolved into the weapons we see during the Robotech Masters part of Robotech. It would have also been nice to see the Masters make the Zor clone that Cabell works with in the Sentinels.

Overall this mini-series gives you a little glimpse into how everything started and how the SDF-1 came to be on Earth and why the aliens came back to recapture it.

Next on my reading list is the Graphic Novel. I have a physical copy of this book and I have sort of already begun to read it. I will review and comment on it as well as the first several issues of Return To Macross in the next week or so.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Robotech 2012 Reading/Watching Order

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

So it came to me that I would need to create a list of what I would need for this year-long Robotech binge. I would need to know which comics/books covered which parts of the story (chronologically). This is fine and all when it comes to the books and shows but there are a LOT of comics. I did a Google search and found this chronological listing from MegaSciFi.com. This is a complete list of everything in proper reading order. This guy REALLY went way beyond the list you see below, he actually has a more complex list that points out any flashbacks in the comics / books and it borders on the obsessive (which he confesses to). It really shows his love for this series! He has a little more readable version and that is what I have put below. It's just what I need! Thanks to the creator: Triple-Super Mecha 8.

I will stick as closely as I can or want to this timeline. Sometimes I might stray but for the most part I will try to read / watch in order.

* The (L) means last entry for that particular title.

RETURN TO MACROSS #1-13, 19, 14-15
WARRIORS #0 (#0 featured in RETURN TO MACROSS #15), #1-3 (L)
ROMANCE #1 "Two Beers with a Skirt Chaser" story – NOTE: Contrary to the date printed in the story, the date is May 2005.
CIVIL WAR STORIES #1 (L) – NOTE: Contrary to the date printed in the story, the date is July 2005.
ROMANCE #1 "When the Going Gets Tough..." story (L)
MACROSS (video series) "Boobytrap" to "Blue Wind" - Episodes 1-13
MACROSS "Gloval's Report" - Episode 14
VERMILION #1-4 "Vermilion" story
MACROSS "Homecoming" to "To the Stars" - Episodes 15-36 (L)
FINAL FIRE #1 (L) – NOTE: Circa 2022 is when the narrator tells his account of events that occurred in 2012.
ROBOTECH ANNUAL #1 "The Science of Law" story
ROBOTECH MASTERS [a.k.a. SOUTHERN CROSS] (video series) "Dana's Story" - Episode 1
ROBOTECH MASTERS "False Start" to "Catastrophe" - Episodes 2-24 (L)
INVID WAR #1, 5-6, 2, 7, 3-4, 8
THE NEW GENERATION [a.k.a. MOSPEADA] (video series) "The Invid Invasion" to "The Lost City" - Episodes 1-2
ROBOTECH ANNUAL #1 "Shop Talk or Why You Should Never Ride Without a Helmet" story (L)
THE NEW GENERATION "Lonely Soldier Boy" - Episode 3
THE NEW GENERATION "Survival" to "Hard Times" - Episodes 4-6
THE NEW GENERATION "Paper Hero" to "Eulogy" - Episodes 7-8
THE NEW GENERATION "The Genesis Pit" to "The Fortress" - Episodes 9-12
THE NEW GENERATION "Sandstorms" to "The Midnight Sun" - Episodes 13-17
THE NEW GENERATION "Ghost Town" to "Frostbite" - Episodes 18-19
THE NEW GENERATION "Birthday Blues" to "Hired Gun" - Episodes 20-21
VERMILION #2-4 "Unsung Heroes" story (L)
THE NEW GENERATION "The Big Apple" to "Symphony of Light" - Episodes 22-25 (L)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Robotech for 2012!

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Welcome to the Robotech Now blog! Why Robotech Now? Why not? Well, Robotech 2012 was taken and so was Robotech. Strangely enough there is nothing Robotech related on either. Anyway, I just picked something that sounded current so I picked Robotech Now.

This blog will run all though 2012 and will cover my binge of Robotech in the coming year. My intent in 2012 (starting in late 2011) is to begin reading these novelizations all over again as well watching the corresponding episodes and reading the comics which take place at the same point in the story, and reading articles from the fanzines. I am going to attempt to give myself the 'total picture' of the Robotech saga and see what it's like.

This means I am going to have to drag out my comic collection and figure out what I need to get ahold of (since I don't have many of the comics anymore). I have the books and the DVDs as well as the fanzines so I am almost ready to rock and roll.

As far continuity in the Robotech Universe I am going to just let it ride. I don't care what's canon and what's not. I am going to enjoy all facets of Robotech and take what I want and leave the rest. I will check it all out (read, watch, etc). For instance, I don't give two farts about Robotech the Movie or the Shadow Chronicles but I will watch them so I can complete my 'total experience'. I think it's easy to get wrapped up in 'this is canon' and 'this is not' when you are so invested in something like this but I am going to accept it all in goodfaith and enjoy Robotech to its fullest.

So join me if you want. I will post thoughts I have when reading or watching. I will write little articles when I find something to write about. I will attempt to write some reviews and synopsis for the mateiral I am checking out as well. I have planned it all out (below) and will follow this schedule as close as I can but I'm sure I will be adjusting it several times during the year. If you have something to say about what I've written, or some little factoid I missed, please leave a comment on that post. If you have something more siginifant to say perhaps I can have you guest-blog for me. Drop me a line.

Chris has decided he will join me in certian aspects of this 2012 project (I'm not sure to what extent) but I am sure we will have a good time doing it. You will see posts from him here as well. *Chris waves at all of you*