The title above refers to the two best IMHO original Robotech comics that were published in the 30 plus years of the series that refuses to die! It is on life support though.
In many ways rereading these comics that I had stashed away brought back memories of other things..where I was living, people I knew and utterly ridiculous and naive ideas I had about the world. The truth is that we are only 15 years or so away from the timeline when the events in these comics were occurring and an alien invasion would be a fucking improvement at this rate!
It is no secret that the Comico Robotech comic adaptions of the 80's were really lousy although I do give props to some of the artists like Mike Leeke, Reggie Byers, and Neil Vokes (who drew the amazing 80's comic 'Eagle!') and a few others.
Eventually the franchise went to Eternity comics, a small california based comic company that only published in Black and White. They got the Sentinels franchise and although I am still not a Sentinels fan, the Waltrip brothers were really good artists. More importantly these were not adaptions of episodes you had already seen but new adventures never seen visually. One of the problems with Robotech is that being multigenerational, we already know the ending of the saga but all the new stories were before that, ruining a bit of the tension since we all knew how it would end.
The Sentinels was basically Rick, Lisa, Max and Miriya from the Macross saga and a few other new (and forgettable) characters. No Southern Cross characters fates were ever dealt with in the comics, although Dana Sterling later does something quite dishonorable to a character from New Generation, the reluctant tragic traitor Jonathan Wolff. All of this was from the Sentinels novels which I read but was never entirely on board with. You never see Sean or Angelo or Marie Crystal again
which is a shame as they were the best Southern Cross characters.
However as I have alluded to before, my other favorite characters were from New Generation(Genesis Climber Mospeada), Scott/Stick Bernard and Yellow Belmont/Lancer and neither was shown in any of the Eternity comics up to that point. The whole Invid occupation chapter had maybe some of the best drama of the series, the best alien enemies and a grim hopeless feeling that even Southern Cross did not have (till the end at least).
Disclaimer: In the end I prefer the original Mospeada but it as Robotech:New Generation that I experienced it historically.
Invid War (1992) Eternity Comics
Well in the summer of 92, a new 4 issue miniseries from Eternity comics came out. Invid War written by Pennsylvania based writer Bill Spangler and artist Tim Eldred. It covered the beginning of the Invid Invasion and how Jonathan Wolf, a friend of Rick Hunter is unable to organize the factions left over from the pyhrric victory over the Robotech Masters in the Southern Cross chapter. It basically was a mini series that was about failure and the explanation for one of the more tragic
Wolf eventually becomes an Invid collaborator, selling out
earth soldiers to the Invid by taking them on bogus missions. An expansion of a one episode guest character in the original Mospeada. The traitor who redeems himself is not only an older anime trope but also seen in some of the old DC war comics like Sgt Rock and The Haunted Tank. Basically war stories for a younger audience are going to have parallel developments, American or Japanese.
It was depressing but action packed and the art was really good. Tim Eldred is one of the most underrated artists of the 90's and had a style that was a good blend of anime and western. Also the guy could replicate any mecha or tech design almost exactly.
It was also a financial success, before the pre comics meltdown that happened in the mid 90's. The Invid War miniseries was extended and the next chapter finally brought the unique fan favorite character Lancer into an original comic story, basically showing what he went through before he crashed landed on earth.
This was my favorite chapter and when I think of Invid War I think of this part the most.
This chapter was called 'Moonwalkers' and detailed the tension on the Lunar base Aluce where Lancer and other soldiers are stationed. The Invid invade but they cannot retaliate right away as they are dealing with a divided and hastily assembled group of soldiers which include disgruntled micronized Zentraedi(the enemies in the first Robotech War) and even a Robotech Master clone pilot who has lost his other two linked clones (making him a bit unstable as they work and live in a triumvirate).
Spangler is a quite decent writer(better than most today to be honest) but shades of the modern day liberal tropes were already emerging in the 1990's and this is no exception. The vile shadow of Star Trek:The Next Generation was casting itself upon all Sci Fi. The overtly masculine (and white) soldiers are bigoted and overly aggressive, acting like dicks to the Zentraedi (who are cast in a Klingon like light), the introverted clone soldier and of course the laid back and not as masculine Lancer himself. Their leader is an understanding and tolerant man with an african surname and of course the tough girl trope is fulfilled with original character, Bekka Cade.
I must be clear that I do not have a problem with this scenario (in many ways similar to one of my favorite zombie films, Romero's Day of the Dead..which this seems almost like a scifi version of with the zombies replaced by the Invid) in and of itself at least not back in 1992. This was not a common trope yet in scifi or horror but at this point(2016) it is almost ubiquitous and tiresome. Its as if they are trying to tear down a whole demographic in a subversive and not so subversive manner..I met Spangler at the infamous Wizard comicon in Philly in 93 and the guy was cool and friendly which is all that really matters. I hope I do not seem like I am knocking his liberal bent, its more in hindsight that I am more bothered by it
now. In truth I was similar at the time.
I liked Bekka a lot however and in many ways she may have been the best original Robotech character ever conceived in the comics. It was clear Lancer wanted to be with her but his shyness and the war got in the way.
Lancer himself is portrayed as an alienated and slightly mopey creative beta male type who cannot tell Bekka how he really feels about her. This was the beginning of the 90's 'alt/grunge'/clinton era and I wont lie and say that I did not relate but this is not how the original Mospeada character was presented. Despite his feminine look, the character of Yellow was quite masculine, both in the way he spoke and in his dialogue and actions. (Of course his character was not supposed to be the 'female singer' of the group originally but I digress..)
Once the action get to earth and the mini series ends, the desperation of combat with the Invid changes the pace. The humans are so hopelessly outclassed by the sheer numbers of the insectoid like aliens that few survive and are scattered.
The next chapter FireWalkers(a one shot collection of 4 backup chapters in another comic I dont remember) detailed how Bekka and Lancer are separated
and his eventual near death as he crashes to earth. The end of Firewalkers has him waking up with the woman who saved him, Carla. It is her that saves him a second time by disguising him as a woman when collaborator humans working for the Invid
are looking for him.
Funny/tragic anecdote: I actually have an ancestor that this same scenario happened to in World War Two but I will not say much more as he was not one of the good guys according to the current dispensation. Needless to say he was the only other male relative who was a soldier other than my grandfather to survive the war. Replace Invid with Murican GI's and you have the idea..heh.
Invid War was so popular after this arc that it continued for another ten issues or so. Spengler and Eldred were a great team and both deserve props for creating the best and most dramatic original Robotech comics ever. Also a mention to Robert Chang who inked Eldred's work in Moonwalkers and did all the painted cover art. He used that grey wash technique which is probably obsolete now with digital. Eldred's art however in Firewalkers was maybe his best and he inked his own pencils in that.
I wonder what Eldred is doing now? Last I saw him, he had adapted Ayn Rand's Anthem into a graphic novel.
Robotech: Invasion (2004)
In the 2000's the Robotech franchise was revamped in anticipation of the coming sequel Shadow Chronicles and a video game called Invasion, a shooter game where you are a Mars Base soldier in a cyclone/Mospeada armor shooting Invid. I was not into video games but when i saw a new comic taking place in the Invid era coming out I was interested somewhat.
This comic was called Robotech:Invasion and was a five issue mini series focusing once again on Lancer/Yellow but this time in color and now with an official 'Canon' timeline. This basically meant the events in Invid War were now nullified. It was no big deal to me as I realized Robotech was a mash up series and that there was now a legal issue with Macross. In many ways this could be a Mospeada stand alone comic without any Robotech elements, especially if the english was replaced with japanese.
Written by Tommy Yune and with a more modern anime like art style by Takeshi Miyazawa and Omar Dongan, this basically showed Lt Lance Belmont and his effort to survive after the first Earth Recapture mission is defeated. The name change makes more sense, I assume Yellow Belmont (his original Mospeada name) was supposed to be like a takeoff of Pink Floyd ( Which one's Pink?) or something. In this Yellow is his squadrons color code and he names his alter ego probably out of respect for his fallen comrades..very clever.
What I liked about this was how Lance (Lancer being a mistake on Carla's part) is just a regular and well adjusted Mars Base soldier who ends up in an almost impossible situation. Unlike Invid War he is not from earth and has never seen the place so he is utterly alone and dependent on a woman who does not want him to fight anymore. Like most of the MB soldiers he never even imagines that humans would not want to help him and shocked when they try to hunt him down! Bro, how naive can you be? The worst enemies of humans are always your fellow humans..
Also since this is more of a Mospeada story the accurate Mecha and fighters are shown in the ill fated attack although there is a mention of why the hell are they not receiving transformable mecha, as if they are not that important to Admiral Hunter. In Mospeada they have not developed the Legioss in the first mission, so they had the Conbat (a non transformable fighter) and a proto humanoid mecha called the Condor, essentially representing both ends of what would eventually become the Legioss. Then again the Legioss really didn't make much of a difference in the second Recapture mission to be honest and according to the original Mospeada notes, less of the second attack got to earth..oh well.
There is a new female character named Olivia who reminds one a bit of Bekka
from Invid War but has a far different fate. Also a good friend of Lance named Dimitry is shown briefly and not seen till the end. Speaking of which..
Invasion started out brilliantly but ended a bit rushed and in some ways the weakness of a five part miniseries combined with the fact that we know what is going to happen ruins it slightly. Once again as with Invid War, showing all the people and lost comrades who have been killed or worse by the Invid makes the ending of Mospeada a bit unsatisfying at least from a characterization perspective.
Too much has been done for there to be a peaceful resolution, even if i regard the Invid now as a superior elder race and also thankful that they stopped the earth from being nuked regardless.
Also the infamous scene where Carla dresses up Lancer is done almost too quickly
even in a comic that is trying to fill out a rather rushed origin in the original.
Wounded or not, would this regular and still masculine enough guy not even have a moment of WTF, lady? This is an extremely minor quibble as once again you have five issues to get from point A to point B.
Also this makes more sense now with my research into the original series basically showing that Hoquet/Rook was supposed to be the rebellious biker pop singer. But when Yoshitaka Yamano(Gatchaman, Vampire Hunter D) sketched the obviously fantasy inspired, almost elven Yellow Belmont someone had the crazy idea to make him the female singer! Saki and Asahi Dry must have been involved although eastern cultures don't have those taboos like the christianized west did (no longer apparently!)
One thing that struck me rereading this, that I didn't notice before was how Carla wanted to start a family and how tempting it would have been to just go with her and leave the worthless human race to the Invid. Of course, Duty and masculine honor would not allow it or to place a woman in danger like that and its refreshing to see such "old fashioned' values in a scifi story even one however old this is.
All in all these were the best two comics that had 'Robotech' on them.
For a researched and quite extensive analysis, this guy's blogpost taught me things I did not know about the Invid War comic. He also makes a good point that Invasion was not as popular for the sheer reason being the passage of time. In the early 90's
geeks like me were still into Robotech, by 2004 many had moved on to other things. I don't know if this means I am reliving my late teens, heh.
This may have been the longest and nerdiest post I have ever done. I am pretty much done with Journal posts on Robotech now...but you never know. I hear they want to make a live action film....(oh boy!)