Let’s get this part out of the way: I’m not familiar with Robotech. It’s before my time, and I’m not super big into anime or manga. There’s good stuff there, Akira is an amazing movie, and I have nothing against it. I watched Dragonball Z and Naruto growing up. I dabbled in Attack on Titan, and I do still enjoy Hellsing: Ultimate. I have a lot of friends who are more into anime and manga, and I have been able to sort of second-hand consume some anime and manga through that.
That being said, I do know American comic books, and this just so happens to be one of those.
The setup is that it’s an unspecified present or future, and some form of alien vessel crashes into Macross Island. The government and military swoop in and mine the alien technology, then use it to power up military weapons and aircrafts. A pilot named Fokker becomes one of the first pilots of these new machines.
Ten years later, Fokker’s little brother, Hunter, shows up and gets himself and Fokker into trouble with the military. Fokker is a lieutenant now and orders his brother arrested. They also have a massive defensive space station called the Space Fortress.
Aliens suddenly appear, and the military responds. Hunter manages to hijack one of their advanced jets and gets himself involved with the battle. As it turns out, his jet can turn into a mecha, and he meets a girl about his age while fighting one off the alien mechas. After downing it, a mysterious figure pops out, the identity of which shocks Hunter.
As previously stated, I’m not super familiar with this property, but boy, is it drowning in oft-used anime tropes. Hunter is a spunky kid with more courage than sense. He gets involved with something far beyond him while adult authority figures try to keep him down.
This comic feels like all setup. It’s trying to hit pre-established plot beats without really explaining or exploring them. It’s also hovering around its own plot, being more interested in Hunter’s story than the overall alien invasion and plot. One feels ancillary to the other. Sure, there’s a “connection” with Fokker and the hijacked plane, but the two feel woefully disconnected.
It really hits those anime plot beats hard. It may have had a hand in establishing a lot of the tropes and plot beats it’s using back in 1985, but this is a comic in 2017. Even though the visuals may have been updated and changed, the content feels old and overused.
Very little is creatively done with the mecha designs. They appear like things we’ve all seen a thousand times before. The fight sequences themselves are very glossed over, and the comic feels like it wants nothing to do with them.
It’s understandable that they were trying to serve the fans of the old property, but you still have to do something new and not just retread old tropes and plot beats. You have to bring in new readers, as well. That feeling of nostalgia will only lead a reader so far.
That being said, the art style is the best part of Robotech. Marco Turini shows a lot of talent in making this expressive and visually appealing comic. It all looks very good, even if there isn’t any fresh creative direction going on with the designs themselves.
However, the color work leaves a little to be desired. Many of the colors hang on the bright end of the spectrum without any darker shades to contrast them.
Anyone who was hoping for a fresh and innovative reboot of this property is going to be sorely disappointed with Robotech #1. This was not an exciting or engaging read. Give it a pass.
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