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EXPLAINING THE LOGIC BEHIND THE ORDER IN THE ROBOTECH CONTINUITY PAGES

By Mecha 8

WARNING: This page contains information about plot elements throughout the Robotech saga. Reader’s discretion is advised!

Introduction

Academy Blues

Cyberpirates

Genesis: The Legend of Zor

Invid War

Metal Swarm

Return to Macross (A)

Return to Macross (B)

The Sentinels Comic

The Sentinels Novel 5

Warriors

Continuity Discrepancies

Genesis: The Legend of Zor

The Sentinels

The Untold Story

Acknowledgments

   INTRODUCTION

So you’ve gone through my lists and found them to be interesting, I hope. But you have to ask: Can this guy back them up? Good question. This page includes my efforts thus far in sharing how I made the placements, at least how I came up with some of the more challenging ones.

Robotech novelist Jack McKinney once wrote to the effect that continuity sets Robotech apart from other sci-fi sagas. Since fans are factionalized over what is Robotruth and what isn’t, I have to agree. He’s received criticism from some concerning the changes and additions he had made to the animation. But I don’t agree with the criticism; for just about every instance, I don’t believe the changes were arbitrary. And nearly all of the material found exclusively in the novels are not changes so much as information supplementing the animation. However, don’t take my word for it, and don’t take the word of anyone else on either side of the discussion. If you haven’t checked out the novel series, I encourage you to do so and form your own opinion. For my money, McKinney should be credited for not only adapting a story, already rife with contradictions and unexplained instances, but also for exploring it. Of course, I don’t think the novels replace the experience of the animation in any way, but they’re important in progressing the Robotech story, as are the comics, which have their share of changes, by the way. Out of respect for McKinney’s work, I relied whenever possible on the timeline included in Novel 18, the last book in chronological order, as a guide for continuity placements.

   ACADEMY BLUES and RETURN TO MACROSS are two series very close in continuity. Events happen in one that immediately affect the other. The order for many of their issues was determined heavily by developments such as terrorist attacks and new security procedures for the SDF-1.

I had originally kept Return to Macross #19 right before #20 because in a plot-development and chronological sense it seemed to lead directly into that issue, despite the fact the amount of time between issues could be substantial; Lisa goes to her interview with Gloval in 19 and moves into her Robotech Academy quarters in 20, setting the stage for the Academy Blues series starring her. However, my first impulse was to place 19 between 13 and 14. Roy is not seen in 19 but is mentioned as being away in space, and though the specifics of his time in space aren’t given in 19, the one and only detailed space account of Return to Macross, which is Issue 13, implies the time mentioned in 19 is the same one by a quick process of elimination. But I needed a bit more than suggestiveness to make me bump 19 to a spot before 14, and I eventually got more when comics writer Robert W. Gibson e-mailed me.

   CYBERPIRATES As stated within the comic series, Cyberpirates takes place in 2025. Therefore, it occurs sometime after the SDF-3 leaves Earth but before the liberation of Karbarra—Karbarra’s liberation is the first event of 2026 listed in the chronology found within certain novels. I placed the reading of Cyberpirates between Books I and II of The Sentinels comic series, rather than other plausible placements, for a few reasons. As we all know, there are many story arcs within a long-running Robotech series. While putting various material in continuity with the intention of being enjoyed in an entertaining fashion, you don’t want a story arc to lose momentum if you can help it. Cyberpirates is placed after the liberation of Tirol and right before a highly involved arc that covers the liberation of Karbarra, among other important moments.

So do all events in Cyberpirates fit nicely between story arcs? Nope. Near the end of Cyberpirates, we find out that a couple months have passed since events in the first issue. The amount of time passed since the arrival of the SDF-3 at Tirolspace to the beginning of Sentinels Book II appears substantially less; in Issue 4 of Book II, the Regis says something that indicates it’s probably been less than a month. Why didn’t I divide Cyberpirates into portions and give each a plausible placement? Because the series is such a self-contained story with no references to plot points in Sentinels that to do so with any credibility, for me at least, would be impossible. For purposes in relation to the overall epic, I consider Cyberpirates #4 to be the only issue of that series to take place between the Tirol and Karbarra arcs in Sentinels.

Another question: Why didn’t I simply put Cyberpirates within Sentinels Book I, between the moment the SDF-3 leaves regular space in 2020 and its reemergence from hyperspace, since five years pass during the fold as stated in the novels? Well, that’s where I had it previously. Going over the placement again, though, I realized several issues pass in Sentinels before Rick and company finally make their fold. The reader would be pretty frustrated as he finally gets to where the ship folds but finds he has to suddenly switch channels (not to mention worlds) to read another story before learning if the SDF-3 made it through hyperspace all right. Now if only I can figure out a way to keep new readers from going ape over the fact that Cyberpirates takes place in 2025; novices wouldn’t know that the SDF-3 is no longer in 2020 when it finishes the fold, unless they’re reading this page in defiance of the warning at the top.

   GENESIS: THE LEGEND OF ZOR has some scenes near the end of the last issue derived from The Graphic Novel. But I didn’t choose to splice Legend of Zor with The Graphic Novel, mainly because those scenes are also shown after a fashion in Return to Macross, a series that I had worked already on splicing with The Graphic Novel. I found more of a need to make clear the order of events between Return to Macross and The Graphic Novel since they are so interrelated, especially where Breetai is concerned.

   INVID WAR Issues 1-4 and 5-8 are two story arcs that intersect at various points, hence the cross-scene splicings. Later issues take place between episodes of The New Generation.

Issue 18 is one of the few examples I thought cross-scene splicing could be done but was not necessary; even though some scenes occur between others within the last episode, the narrative in 18 makes the order of events so apparent that splicing would be redundant.

   RETURN TO MACROSS/WARRIORS/METAL SWARM The story for the first 12 issues of Return to Macross can be divided into two main stories that are separated in space as well as time, which explains the many splicings I did within just that series. The first story is Breetai’s search for the SDF-1, and the second depicts Roy Fokker’s struggle against internal and external elements threatening the stability of the Robotech project. Roy’s story begins in 2004. Breetai’s, however, does not feature dates, but the pacing of the story suggests that events take place soon after the SDF-1 escapes the Zentraedi. Therefore, Breetai’s tale begins no later than 1999, the year the SDF-1 spacefolds to Earth. Other titles that further chronicle his search include Warriors and Metal Swarm. They don’t have the same immediacy as his story in the early Return to Macross issues, but I tentatively placed them before Roy’s story when I first read them, anyway; 1999 to 2004 is a significant span of time, so a fair chance exists that those adventures occur within those years, I thought. Fortunately, Bill Spangler, writer of all the comics in question, put my doubts aside when I showed him my order.

   THE SENTINELS COMIC Maybe more than any Robotech story, The Sentinels, in either comic or novel form, plays fast and loose with the passage of time. Events seem to go from one to the other without much pause. In general, a campaign to liberate a planet appears to take a few days, and trips between worlds seem nearly instantaneous or the next best thing. But the novels’ Robotech Chronology indicates that the campaigns span a number of years, even without the five-year gap in the fold from Earth to Tirol. (The easiest way to reconcile the seemingly brisk passage of time in the narrative with the dates in the Robotech Chronology is to think of the narrative as a condensed account of the events: Some details are left out, and apparently the travel between worlds takes longer than it seems at first.) This discrepancy adds more ambiguity to the placement of other series, namely comics, taking place within the same period as The Sentinels.

Every time I encounter a comic series or one-shot not part of The Sentinels but taking place between the campaign years, 2020 to 2029, I usually find no Sentinels plot references to help give me a precise idea of where to place it. The discrepancy in the passage of time for the campaigns makes even giving a good guess less than likely. Without enough continuity clues, I rely more on finding the nearest available break in Sentinels action to place those comics. I consider my placements for Invid World, Mechangel, and other titles in similar situations to be, at most, opportunities for the reader to see what is happening at very roughly the same time as The Sentinels issues he’s just read.

   THE SENTINELS NOVEL 5 Do Dana and crew arrive in Tirolspace after the Invid invade Earth or before? Since the narrative doesn’t provide an answer, I’ve relied on the Robotech Chronology pages featured in the novels. The Robotech Chronology has the invasion listed before Dana’s arrival, but not every event throughout that timeline seems to be listed chronologically with other events occurring in the same year. Events of more importance frequently are listed first. I’ve placed the invasion before Dana’s arrival, but I know people might become confused in reading the invasion before Dana arrives in Tirol and tells everyone there that the Invid haven’t come to Earth yet. The placement is unavoidable, though, given the following reasons.

The answer to the following question was what made me put the invasion before Dana’s arrival in the first place: The Nichols drive is supposed to allow for near-instantaneous folding, but is there still a substantial amount of time passing? Since Dana commandeers Wolff’s ship in 2032 and doesn’t arrive in Tirolspace until 2033 according to the Robotech Chronology, there apparently is. The span of time might be enough to encompass the 2033 Invid onslaught, I thought. Later, Jim Luceno, the author who comprised half of the Jack McKinney pseudonym, told me that the invasion precedes Dana and crew’s arrival no more than 6-9 months, relative.

   CONTINUITY DISCREPANCIES

Since I consider the comics, novels, and animation as partners in the continuity, do I have problems when one source differs from another?

Read on.

   GENESIS: THE LEGEND OF ZOR This series almost didn’t make it to my lists. It seems to directly contradict events already established in the novels almost as much as draw from them. According to the novels, Zor seduces the Regis, but if anyone is seduced in the comic series it seems to be Zor. Also, the ample use of Zol, Zor’s father according to the comic, undercuts the ambiguity in Zor’s origins stated in the epigraph for Chapter 24, Novel 18. Interestingly, in acknowledgment of the discrepancy, it is briefly addressed on page 57 of Novel 20. For a more severe discrepancy, Vard, a minor character already depicted in both The Graphic Novel and Novel 1 as a casualty in the same Invid attack which claims Zor, is killed by Zor in the comic long before that battle. More discrepancies exist, but those comprise the bulk of the major ones. However, the series is not without merit; there are a number of important, well-executed scenes that I would have little trouble accepting if other scenes were excised.

   THE SENTINELS In numerous ways this comic series differs from the novels. While still following major plot points of McKinney’s work, the team of John and Jason Waltrip significantly added and altered things. Some include new characters, uniform changes, and an earlier use of the Invid Special Children.

During the time of its publication, The Sentinels comic adaptation had been taking several years to tell, making it one of the longest running adaptations in the comics field—despite its cancellation. From a creative standpoint, such a schedule can be constraining in the long run, so I can understand the Waltrips’ decision to execute some things differently. But whether their changes should be considered as part of the “true” continuity is a grey issue for me. The severity of some alterations seems higher than any changes McKinney made to the TV series, though certainly many of their embellishments for minor details are not a problem. In any case, the comic provides a wealth of visual reference and some fun embellishments for this part of the epic. I may stick by the novels, but my mind flashes to scenes from the comic whenever I read the McKinney books.

   THE UNTOLD STORY Notice something missing from my lists? (Aside from The Shadow Chronicles video, the Prelude to The Shadow Chronicles comic, and other excluded titles mentioned in the Introduction to the Video/Comics Continuity page.) Robotech the Movie: The Untold Story was the only Robotech film intended for the big screen, but it never played at a theater near you. Had it passed the test screenings, many would have seen for themselves the discrepancies that have prevented its entry on my lists, not to mention the questionable use of Southern Cross footage thrown into a film that’s basically the animation from Megazone 23 rewritten for Robotech. Intended to take place before the Southern Cross portion of the series, the movie shows the first combat between Earth’s forces and the Masters, and the fall to Earth of one of the Masters’ space fortresses. However, the first Earth/Masters engagement already had been established as taking place in the first episode of Southern Cross, and the fall of a Masters’ fortress had been depicted in a later episode as well. Due to the abrupt ending of the movie, we’re left to wonder what happens to the crashed fortress introduced there. Perhaps the most important reason not to include the movie in the chronology is the position of Carl Macek, real-life Robotech Master. In an interview by Todd Hill that was published in Return to Macross #24, Macek said, “I don’t consider it to be part of the timeline of the Robotech era whatsoever. Really, I’d like everybody to forget about Robotech the Movie: The Untold Story altogether.”

So this page will end on a more upbeat note, here’s another quote from the same interview: “... minor inconsistencies notwithstanding, the novels, comic books, and RPGs are all representative of Robotech. I don’t discount the validity of any of these works. Also, each work has its own place within the overall realm of Robotech.”

   ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The following people deserve mention in this endeavor. Not all of my views might be shared by them, but my fondness for Robotech is.

As a fan, I’ve been on quite a journey. Back in high school, I had caught the series intermittently when it had originally aired, sometimes watching it with my brother in the early morning, but I wasn’t permanently hooked until classmate Rob Kerver gave me a bunch of Robotech episodes on VHS tape. Another friend of mine who’s been part of the journey is Greg Chu. In addition to devouring the novels when I lent them to him, he borrowed my tapes of the entire series during college; we ran Robotech marathons at our respective campuses at different times.

The Internet has allowed me to connect—or reconnectwith a number of people who have a passion for the material, and in some cases, have had a hand in crafting some of the saga. In order of correspondence, thanks go to Bill Spangler, Darren Andrews, Nathan J. Babcook, Robert W. Gibson, and Jim Luceno. Their input was important and helpful. Another person I should mention is John Thomas, who’s much of the inspiration for me to get my work back online.

And once again, thanks to Carl Macek—for putting together one slammin’ party.
 


Introduction to the Video/Comics Continuity

Video/Comics Continuity 
Video/Comics Continuity – The More Readable Version

Introduction to Robotechnuity for the Novel Series

Robotechnuity for the Novel Series
Robotechnuity – The More Readable Version  
Robotech Timeline for the Animation, Novels, and Comics

Robotech Continuity Main Page

 

Robotech is a trademark of Harmony Gold U.S.A., Inc. By no means is this text intended to infringe upon the owner's rights.

Text: Copyright 1997, 2010-2014 Mecha 8
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