Pullbox Reviews: Robotech Remix #1 – All the eye-candy old fans should expect (and less Minmei singing…)

A radical reimagining of the sci-fi mecha anime classic

A new Robotech saga starts now! In the wake of the Invid onslaught, the SDF-1 rises from the ashes, reborn – fresh adventures and red-hot drama, with beloved characters and iconic mecha.

New York Times-bestselling new writer Brenden Fletcher (Isola, Motorcrush, Batgirl, Ghost in the Shell, Attack on Titan), and new artist, anime ace Elmer Damaso (Robotech/Voltron, Speed Racer).

Robotech is reborn from the ashes of Event Horizon! New writer Brenden Fletcher (Motorcrush, Isola) and artist Elmer Damaso (Robotech/Voltron, Marvel Mangaverse) boot up Robotech: Remix, an all-new series that will take beloved characters and iconic mecha to places fans have never seen before!

The SDF-3, under the command of Captain Lisa Hayes, has a front row seat for the latest threat from outside our galaxy. Way outside of our galaxy, as two vessels emerge from an inter-dimensional rift and tear a chunk out of our moon on their way through. Their intentions are as yet unclear, but it appears that one is chasing the other with hostile intent. Meanwhile, a time displaced Dana Sterling is still coming to terms with her situation in a reality that’s familiar and yet completely different. With the arrival of these unknown ships, the key to returning Dana to her time and place could be at hand…

Might have to do something about that chunk taken out of the moon, though. Maybe some Spackle?

When Robotech first made its way to our shores in the 80’s, I’d already grown up on a pretty steady diet of anime imports from Japan. Speed Racer, Battle of the Planets (before I realized how awful that particular Americanized and watered down version of Gatchaman really was), & Starblazers had me primed to embrace the sci fi epic that was Robotech. And I wasn’t alone. Surrounded as I was by like-minded fellow Marines while serving in the military, it was a weekly event as we all crammed into a barracks room to huddle around the TV/VHS combo that brought us our fix of mech versus Zentraedi action.

A little more recently, I’ve started revisiting the original Macross Saga– be warned, some of the dialogue & themes are a little (out)dated- and it’s been mostly heartening to see that the action holds up pretty well. The more soap opera inspired aspects might be laid on a little thick, and if I’m being brutally honest some of the characters come across as barely two-dimensional representations of people under the stresses of alien invasion (seriously, Minmei, no one wants to hear you sing!).

Along comes Titan Comics to fix some of what hadn’t aged well, and to pay respectful homage to what did. Robotech Remix has something for everybody, fans new and old, as it takes the original story line for a spin. Everything is there, all of the elements that made Robotech more of a sensation than the average cartoon series, but it’s all been given a fresh spin for a much needed update in style and tone.

Brenden Fletcher has his work cut out for him. He’s not just tackling a science fiction classic that redefined what could be done with animation. Robotech is known for its layered story lines and character driven subplots as much as its transforming mechs & spaceship combat. To die hard fans, this is an epic that’s as near and dear to them as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. Fletcher shares that love for this story and its roots, which is a thing that shines through here. The most daunting thing that he may have to contend with is just how much lore there is to keep track of. I’ll admit that I’m not as familiar with some of the later Robotech stories and incarnations, so some of the groundwork is a bit muddled for me. That said, this opening issue for Robotech Remix has gotten off to a really solid start, keeping new readers and forgetful farts like myself in mind and establishing what we need to know.

Now it has to be said that any artist(s) attempting to adapt a property like Robotech for a comicbook series had better bring an A game. As I said before, even the old anime episodes still look pretty darn good on my big screen TV after all these years… not something that every animated show from the eighties can boast. The artistic team of Elmer Damaso (illustrations) and Marco Lesko (colors) has nailed it on pretty much every front. The characters are all very recognizable without falling into full on retro, and their manga/anime origins are on full display right down to the quirks of facial expression and stylized emotes. Before he was ever named in the book, Max Sterling- now the Captain of the SDF-1– was immediately identifiable (between you and me, Max was always my guy… Rick Hunter was kind of a manchild putz). Damaso is on top of his game here, sharing at least as much responsibility as Brenden Fletcher for bringing Robotech to a new audience while giving the old guard our due. Likewise, the colors by Lesko are on point. Classic anime is generally brightly hued, heavy on the primary colors, and would present a challenge to any colorist. Throw in the heavy lifting involved in showing outer space combat and dimensional rifts tearing out large chunks of the moon, and Lesko’s credentials are plain to see almost from page one.

Robotech Remix is a labor of love. It has to be because without that regard for the project from all aspects of the creative process, the story isn’t going to translate. There’s just too much established for anyone involved in re-creating the epic feel of the old series to ignore. It’s an all or nothing gamble for the entire team, from writing to illustrating to lettering, that avoids excluding any potential readers whether they’re old fans or new to the saga.

SDF-1… you are go for (re)launch.

Final Score: 10

And for you variant-aholics…

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