Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles is a five-part comic book mini-series written by Tommy Yune along with the Waltrip brothers, who were previously the art-and-writing team of the Robotech II: The Sentinels comic series. It was published under DC Comics' Wildstorm imprint. It bridges the gap between The Sentinels and the new movie Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, and also features characters from the Robotech Masters Saga. The series is important, in that it provides an explanation and deepened background for many of the events seen on screen in the movie, and clears up many apparent contradictions within the original animation.
The story of Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles focuses on the betrayal of the Robotech Expeditionary Force by T. R. Edwards, as he defects to the side of the Invid Regent. The story begins with the REF's Plenipotentiary Council ordering the arrest of Edwards, and Admiral Rick Hunter leads a team down to Tirol to arrest Edwards for treason, only to find that Edwards has already cleared out his facility in Tiresia, kidnapped Lynn Minmay, and killed her cousin Lynn-Kyle. The REF forces are attacked by Invid Inorganics, and Edwards launches offplanet in a newly-developed battlecrusier, the Icarus.
Rick alerts Admiral Lisa Hunter, in command of the SDF-3, of the development, and Lisa attempts to prevent Edwards from leaving, but the SDF-3 is unable to get a lock on his ship or his Ghost Squadron fighters, which are using newly developed Shadow technology that makes them invisible to the REF's sensors. As Edwards' ship moves to escape, the Invid Regent's Supercarrier defolds nearby, confirming the REF suspicions that Edwards has allied with the Invid. The SDF-3 prepares to attack but the Supercarrier is able to fire first - the blast shears off the front sections of the SDF-3 and causes extensive damage. The Supercarrier and the Icarus engage their fold drives and escape, with the REF unable to follow. Lisa is seriously injured in the attack, but is soon stabilized and taken downplanet to Tirol for recovery. A few days later, Dr. Jean Grant and her husband, Captain Vince Grant, meet with Rick to tell him that Lisa will survive. Rick, thankful for the news, states that he was looking forward to Lisa resigning her commission after she found out she was pregnant with their first child. It is then that Jean is forced to tell Rick that Lisa's injuries were so severe that she has miscarried, causing Rick to nearly collapse in shock and sadness. The tragedy takes its toll on Rick and Lisa – in the year it takes for the REF to rebuild, Rick's once-black hair turns grey, and Lisa is still in a wheelchair with braces on her legs.
Back on Tirol, Dr. Emil Lang and his android assistant Janice Em try to investigate the Shadow technology, which is making Edwards' ships impossible to detect. The Sentinel races pledge to help the REF rebuild and prepare for their next encounter with the Invid. Particularly the Karbarrans, who help rebuild the fleet, and the Haydonites, an advanced cybernetic race, help to reverse-engineer the Shadow technology. One year later, Vince Grant leads the newly-refitted heavy crusier Tokugawa against Edwards and the Regent at Optera. Lisa and Rick are still struggling with the death of their unborn child, but nonetheless find the strength to continue to lead the REF in its efforts to track down and stop Edwards. Both focus on the rebuilding and refitting of the SDF-3.
Upon reaching Optera, the Tokugawa is severely damaged by a surprise attack by the Icarus. Edwards uses the battle as a chance to dispose of the Regent and Breetai while they are engaged combat. The death of the Regent gives him and his living computer control over all of the Invid forces. Grant's ship is left crashing into Optera's atmosphere. Edwards rounds up the survivors, including Vince, and brings them to the Invid hive, where he reveals his plan to use the Regent's army to "liberate" the Earth from the Invid Regis. Rick arrives in the now-rebuilt and upgraded SDF-3, and leads a team to rescue Minmei and the survivors of Grant's party. They capture Lazlo Zand and rescue Minmei, but Edwards is pushed into the Genesis Pit by Janice, where he and the living computer are fused and mutated into one monstrous being. Janice tells the rest of the team to escape, and uses herself as a beacon for the SDF-3 to lock onto it with its syncro-cannons to destroy the Edwards-creature. Just before the SDF-3 fires, Janice uploads herself to a new body created by Lang and the Haydonites so she can act as a liaison, but the upgrade is only partial, and Janice's memory is damaged. The Edwards creature is destroyed in the blast.
From Edwards, the REF gets the Neutron-S missiles, which the Haydonites help them to replicate. After conferring with his officers, Rick orders all available REF forces to assemble at Moon Base ALUCE to prepare for a one final assault on Earth to dislodge the Invid with the use of the new Shadow technology obtained from the Haydonites. General Gunther Reinhardt, commander of the SDF-4 Izumo, is ordered to supervise this mobilization until Rick and the SDF-3 arrive. Reluctantly, Rick orders the use of the Neutron-S missiles, which will wipe out the Invid and most or all life on Earth, but only if the attack in unsuccessful. Some of his officers criticize this decision and argue that the Neutron-S missiles should be used immediately; an attack against the Invid forces on Earth, even if successful, will likely result in very heavy losses to the REF. However, Rick refuses this request, and orders that the missiles only be used as a last resort. Before the SDF-3 joins the attack, Rick asks Max Sterling to join him on the SDF-3, and appoints his daughter, Maia Sterling, to lead Skull Squadron in his place.
While on Space Station Liberty, Maia meets up with Commander Daryl Taylor, the leader of Wolf Squadron, who points out two of his new pilots: Marcus Rush and Alex Romero. As they are talking, Dana Sterling walks up to Maia, and the two sisters stare at each other for a long moment before Dana, without saying a word, walks away with a sad look on her face. The reason for the tension between the two sisters is unknown. Louie Nichols, a tech-wizard who served under Dana during the Second Robotech War, is also seen briefly.
At the end of the comic, Lisa Hayes-Hunter, now fully recovered, implies that she will resign her commission, stating that "one Admiral Hunter is enough for the fleet." Lisa joins Rick on the bridge of the SDF-3 as they prepare for a test-firing of a Neutron-S missile in the Omicron Sector. However, the test goes horribly wrong, as the true power of the missiles become apparent.
The comic ends here, and paves the way for the movie Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles.
The Sentinels revisited
The rebooting of the Robotech universe relegated everything except the original 85-episode series to secondary continuity. This includes the Sentinels comics, and the Jack McKinney novels, both of which tell the same story, but diverge on many of the finer details. As part of this reboot, the Wildstorm Robotech comics before the Prelude miniseries feature a retelling of the years between the SDF-1 crash and the first animated episode, "Boobytrap." Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles picks up where the Sentinels comics left off, during the events surrounding T. R. Edwards's betrayal. With the reboot, it is still generally acknowledged that the basic events of The Sentinels still occurred, although many minor details (including the timeline) are now slightly different. Most notably, Edwards – who was the main human antagonist during The Sentinels – has been reinterpreted as a more ambiguous character. Also, notable is the appearance of Lazlo Zand, who had appeared in the Jack McKinney novels, where he had died at the end of the Robotech Masters story arc. The Prelude comic leaves Zand alive, while indirectly alluding to his apparent "death" earlier.
Several key Robotech characters are killed off during this comic series, some onscreen, and some are confirmed when watching the follow-up movie. They include:
- Lynn-Kyle (killed after being shot by Edwards)
- Breetai (killed when the Icarus's cannon fires on the Regent's ship)
- The Regent (killed when the Icarus's cannon fires on the Regent's ship)
- T. R. Edwards (killed by the SDF-3's Synchro-cannons)
- Exedore (killed aboard the Deukalion during the Neutron-S missile test and events in Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles)
The fate of Dr. Emil Lang is debated, One argument is that Dr. Emil Lang was killed aboard the Deukalion during the Neutron-S missile test and events in Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. However, some fans have stated that he was aboard the SDF-3 during the Neutron-S missile test, not the science ship Deukalion, as stated. The comic book art is vague in this aspect, as Lang is never shown in a frame with Exedore and Janice. Neither does the art indicate whether he is on the SDF-3 or the science vessel. Therefore his fate, like that of the SDF-3, is currently unknown.
The Prelude comic also retcons the fate of some characters who were known to have been killed either in previous comics or the novels. Most notably, Lazlo Zand and Professor Miles Cochrane were shown to still be alive.
A number of characters from The Macross Saga and The Sentinels were not shown in this comic series, and their fate as of the events of The Shadow Chronicles remains unknown.
- Miriya Sterling (No mention in dialogue – however, at one point in the comic, there is a reference to the arrival of the Sterlings [plural], which could be interpreted to mean both Max and Miriya, although it could also simply refer to Max and Maia Sterling.)
- Aurora Sterling (No mention in dialogue, possibly retconned out of existence – note that since "the other daughter of Max and Miriya" who appears in Catastrophe is never named, it is likely that McKinney's novel-originated Aurora has been replaced with Maia Sterling.)
- Tesla (Invid traitor and contender for Regent's throne. No mention in dialogue – unknown if he is still alive or existent in this new continuity.)
- Captain Raul Forsythe (acting captain of SDF-3 in Lisa Hunter's absence. No mention in dialogue – unknown if he is still alive or existent in this new continuity.)
- Kazianna Hesh (Breetai's lover and mother to his son Drannin. No mention in dialogue – unknown if she is still alive or existent in this new continuity)
- In addition, the only Sentinel alien characters to get any panel-time, dialogue, or have their names mentioned were the Karbarran Lron and Ambassador Veidt of the Haydonites. Sentinel representatives were briefly seen in issue #1, representing Peryton, Spheris, Garuda, and Praxis, but they remained unnamed, and had no dialogue.
Fates of Characters from the Robotech Masters Saga
Of the major characters who survived the Second Robotech War, only Dana Sterling and Louie Nichols are confirmed to be alive. Bowie Grant is briefly referred to in dialogue, but it is unclear if he is still alive. The other major characters who survived the Second Robotech War, including Nova Satori, Dennis Brown, Angelo Dante, Sean Phillips, Marie Crystal, Musica, and Allegra, are not mentioned at all in the comic or in the subsequent movie, and their fates remain unknown.
In the Jack McKinney novel Rubicon (book 17 of the Robotech series), most of the these characters (except Nova and Dennis) are confirmed to be alive. However, due to the relegation of the novels to secondary continuity, it is unclear which, if any, of these characters are still alive in the rebooted timeline.
- Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles official website
- Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles at the Anime News Network Encyclopedia