Robotech: Prelude to The Shadow Chronicles - Mania.com



Manga Review

Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translation Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Released By: Wildstorm
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Pages: 128
  • ISBN: 978-1401228163
  • Size: A6
  • Orientation: Left to Right
  • Series: Robotech: Prelude to The Shadow Chronicles

Robotech: Prelude to The Shadow Chronicles

Robotech: Prelude to The Shadow Chronicles Manga Review

By Sakura Eries     July 29, 2010
Release Date: June 01, 2010


Robotech: Prelude to The Shadow Chronicles
© Wildstorm

The clash between Rick Hunter and T.R. Edwards that leads to the events of Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles movie!

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Tommy Yune, Jason Waltrip, John Waltrip

What They Say
Finally after 20 years, the mysterious circumstances behind the disappearance of Admiral Rick Hunter will be revealed!

In 2022, an Expeditionary Force departed from Earth in search of the homeworld of the Robotech Masters. However, its discovery would spark an interstellar conflict that would last decades. When an uneasy alliance is finally reached, only the enigmatic Invid remain as an obstacle to peace, but a secret pact with an enemy within the ranks threatens to start a new war that could destroy the Expeditionary Force and the human race! Featuring much of the original Robotech cast, including Rick Hunter and more, the prelude to the "Shadow Chronicles" has begun!

The Review!

Technical:
Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles has some pretty snazzy visuals adorning its front cover. At the top, we have the chief villain, T. R. Edwards; Janice the android; and Robotech's ever enduring hero, Rick Hunter. Below them is an alpha fighter flying over an alien landscape that looks like it could have been rendered from movie graphics. And in case if you've forgotten what a classic Robotech is, there is a little "Robotech 25 Years" emblem at the bottom right corner.
 
On the back cover we have the splash illustration for Chapter 2. It's a bit cheesier looking with Edwards and Vince Grant scowling at one another (a space battle between their forces takes up most of Chapter 2). Between them is Edward's ship Icarus blasting its cannons, and hovering over them is the Invid Regent. A short blurb is placed at the top.
 
The softcover binding and pages are fairly sturdy. My copy got bent in half and shoved into a mailbox by an indifferent postman and has only two small creases on the spine show for it. All pages are in color, and the print quality is vibrant and crisp. The book opens with a two-page introduction to the Robotech Universe comprised of a timeline, character lineup, and setting descriptions. Following each of the five chapters is a one-page Data File which details various spaceships and mecha introduced in the story. Bringing up the rear is an eight-page "Behind the Scenes" section which provides a brief explanation on how this work ties to the Robotech anime, comics, novels, and movie; conceptual drawings; and tidbits about the production of the Shadow Chronicles movie.
 
If you liked the artwork in the Shadow Chronicles movie, you'll like what you find in this book. Mecha, character design, uniforms -- stylistically everything matches up to what was in the movie. I find it interesting though that Rick Hunter goes from brown to completely white-haired over the course of one year. Some illustrations, like the Liberty Station backgrounds, look like they could have been rendered from movie graphics.
 
Content:
Robotech is an interesting study in the import of Japanese entertainment. As most Robotech fans know, it was actually cobbled together from three completely unrelated anime series, yet the story somehow worked, rocketing to immense popularity at a time when anime was relatively unknown in the United States. However, because Robotech as we know it never existed in Japan, it fell to Harmony Gold to create its own episodes from scratch when demand for a continuation of the anime arose.
 
Fast forward a couple decades, and we have Robotech: the Shadow Chronicles. However, in between the TV series and the movie, we also had an abandoned anime project, a few novels, and a couple comic book series. As such, Shadow Chronicles also had that "cobbled together” feeling as the movie seemed intent on somehow incorporating characters from all three Robotech sagas plus the Sentinel stories whether or not it made a whole lot of sense for them to be together.
 
That's the same feeling I get from Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles.
 
The Shadow Chronicles movie covers the aftermath of the Third Robotech War and gives a glimpse as to why Admiral Rick Hunter needs rescuing at the end of the series. The Prelude graphic novel explains, among other things, how Rick Hunter actually got into that predicament. That brings us to the beginning of the story... sort of.
 
Prelude is touted as a prequel to the movie, and though it is an insightful companion to the film, it's more of a closing volume to the Sentinels comic series by Jason and John Waltrip. While the Sentinels novel series reached a final conclusion, the comic book publisher went out of business before the Waltrips could finish. As such, Harmony Gold decided to let the Waltrips co-author Prelude and start where the comics left off -- with Lynn Kyle (Minmei's cousin) bleeding on the ground and a warrant for General Edwards' arrest. 
 
Given this opening and the fact that the bulk of the graphic novel is dominated by Sentinels characters and settings, don't bother with Prelude if you've had no experience to Sentinels. You'll be completely baffled as to who these Sentinels are and why this Edwards guy has such a big chip on his shoulder. If you're like me, who read the Jack McKinney novels but not the comics, you'll manage, even though the comics and the novels have diverging plots.
 
Okay, enough background. On to the story...
 
The Robotech Expeditionary Force (REF) is in dire straits. They've spent the last several years liberating enslaved worlds only to lose their own planet to the Invid. Worse yet, General Edwards has been secretly collaborating with the Invid Regent. Using the captured alien technology he was entrusted with, Edwards eludes arrest, crippling the SDF-3 in the process. Now the REF has two daunting tasks: capturing Edwards and figuring how to upgrade their own mecha to stand a chance against Edwards' new Shadow Technology.
 
Although the Invid are ever present concerns for the REF, the main villain is Edwards, especially as the Regent gets knocked off early in the story. Interestingly, Rick Hunter doesn't monopolize the hero role. It's split almost evenly between him and Vince Grant. Rick Hunter is the fuel that feeds Edwards' mad power grab, but Vince is the one who tracks him down. Eventually, Edwards is defeated and along the way we learn how the Haydonites are able to Trojan horse the Shadow Technology that winds up in the movie as well as how the REF obtains those pesky Neutron S missiles.
 
The story is strongly plot driven. When combat isn't taking place in key battles, conversations are predominately geared towards tying into concurrent events in the Robotech Universe (i.e. the battle versus the Invid on Earth) or tech talk explaining new Robotechology/mecha. As such, the story introduces most of the main players of the movie by the final chapter, but it's so busy getting them into place and inserting random cameos that there's little character development or interaction. The only interchange between Karen Penn and Jack Baker (my favorite pair of the Sentinels) is brief combat communications relayed during an attack.
 
However, the ultimate purpose of this graphic novel is to tie up loose ends in the Robotech saga, and it accomplishes the job (even if Edwards' demise is something out of a bizarre B-movie). We get rid of Edwards, get the background behind the Shadow Technology that shows up in the Third Robotech War and movie, and find out why SDF-3 and Janice are in their respective places at the beginning of the film.
 
In Summary:
If you saw the Robotech Shadow Chronicles movie and loved it, definitely pick this up. If you're a fan of the Waltrips' Sentinels comic, Prelude will give you some closure. However, if you've only been exposed to the original three-part Robotech series, you will wind up more confused than anything else.
 
This graphic novel is not rated, but I’d give it a 13+ for violence and weird alien forms.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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ultrazilla2000 7/29/2010 3:49:27 AM

I'll have to check this out.  I'm still sad they never got far with the Robotech The Sentinels animated series...but at least we have the excellent book series.    Robotech was such a huge part of my childhood, I really wish it would find a way to thrive again.

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