As a 2017 comic book, Robotech #1 isn’t breaking any new ground, and maybe that’s the point. For those familiar with Robotech’s 1985 origin as an anime series, this book won’t offend your fond memories of the now-iconic characters and their even more recognizable mechs. Like the show it’s based on, this comic focuses on the personalities and personal relationships of its talented and interesting cast, and Roy Fokker, Rick Hunter, Claudia Grant, Lisa Hayes, Lynn Minmei, Henry Gloval and company are instantly recognizable.
By 1985, American audiences were introduced to only a spare few Japanese anime shows that were translated into English. Two of the most popular were Star Blazers (Space Battleship Yamato) and Battle of the Planets (Space Ninja Team Gatchaman). The introduction of Robotech was a welcome addition, but it was soon apparent that if you missed an episode, you were far behind the considerable development taking place between its characters. In making viewers emotionally invested in the cast beyond the well-done battle sequences, Robotech did for its entire cast what Star Blazers only managed for a few notable relationships.
Yes, the mechs are cool, but with this introductory issue writer Brian Wood is more concerned with establishing the world 10 years after the crash on Macross Island of an alien spaceship and the adaptation of its sophisticated technologies than showing us cool mechs fighting. His thoughtful pacing mirrors that of the original series, permitting rather detailed introductions for the main characters and their central conflicts/convergences. These relationships are going to prove pivotal as the action unfolds and the fighting grows more intense in future issues. The “lack” of action here in the first issue isn’t an issue, because Wood is giving readers something worth fighting for.
Marco Turini’s enchanting art updates the original look while retaining all its charm. If you didn’t know the release date of this comic, it would be difficult to pin it down simply by looking at Turini’s panels. He didn’t reinvent the look, and he didn’t take it over the top (would you want Rick Hunter to look like a character from Dragonball Z?), so let’s just say he did his Harmony Gold homework and then made the Macross Saga his own. It works.
If you were hoping for something radically different from the original series or a continuation of an existing storyline, this isn’t the book for you. Wood and Turini have masterfully forged a faithful update/recreation that is a perfect introduction/jumping on point for a new generation of readers tired of hearing how much better Robotech is than Attack on Titan.
It’s also likely to please longtime fans who, let’s face it, haven’t seen the original series in so long that they’ve forgotten a thing or two about how well characterized and entertaining Robotech can be in the care of a talented creative team. If you’re OK with starting the Macross Saga from the beginning, enjoy.