Robotech/Voltron #3 (Dynamite Comics)

“I don’t understand. Do you think we’re connected to this SDF-1 somehow?”

“That’s what we’re trying to find out. All we know is that you’re part of this perfect storm of craziness.”

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Robotech/Voltron #3 brings us through the halfway point of Dynamite’s crossover between the two premiere Japanese robot anime imports of the 1980s, and while there is still a certain amount of setup going on, some pieces of this machine finally feel like they’re in motion. The crossover finally feels like it’s underway. Unfortunately, that means that we only have two more issues for the whole thing to resolve itself; pacing remains a problem, despite this issue feeling like the series finally coming into its own.

I’m not sure how much of that sense comes from being this far into the story and how much of that comes from Bill Spangler coming on board to script the issue. After two issues of Tommy Yune’s clunky dialog, Spangler’s more polished, verbose work gives the book a greater feeling of density, although the sheer amount of exposition going on certainly adds to the word count as well. In this issue, Voltron Force leader Keith awakes from a coma after five years and is interrogated by T.R. Edwards, Dr. Penn, and Roy Fokker. The scene is a bit confused, as Penn conflates his theory about the Voltron Force coming from a parallel world with the arrival of the SDF-1; one is forced to wonder if the arrival of the team and their Lions has led to some ill-conceived rethinking on Penn’s part. The “conversation,” as Edwards puts it, is interrupted by the arrival of Khyron’s forces over Macross Island. As the Voltron Force compares notes and demonstrates the UEDF’s terribly lax security — Dr. Penn gave Pidge an internet-connected smartphone and Max Sterling has been making regular visits — back in their universe, King Lotor finally finishes his flashbacks and orders the witch Haggar to regain control of the mysterious comet that’s caused all this interdimensional chaos in hopes of getting his beloved Princess Allura back. What emerges from the comet, however, is much more than the Drule Empire bargained for …

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The art and visual storytelling remain to the previous issues’ high standards; this issue’s battle between Veritechs and Zentraedi forces leaves me even more convinced that Elmer Damaso needs to stick around when non-crossover ROBOTECH comics resume in November. Fokker’s dogfight with a Zentraedi Fighter Pod is a highlight. There are other nice touches throughout; the guard at the Voltron Force’s door in Southern Cross armor was a welcome sight, although I believe the moment called for someone in Military Police armor as opposed to Alpha Tactical Armored Corps garb. More than anything else, it reminded me of the way GMP suits would crop up in Spangler’s Return to Macross comic series in the 1990s, oddly enough. I was also happy to see the mice protecting the key to one of the Lions during the flashback, a well played cameo pointing back to Voltron TV series continuity.

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My biggest quibble with the story at the moment is that I’m still not entirely sure what the flashbacks to Lotor’s youth have to do with the larger story being told. As this issue finally draws the disparate casts together and lays out the conflicts ahead, Lotor’s boyhood trauma stands apart, almost feeling like a non sequitur when he goes from remembering the death of his mother to pointing out the image of the ominous comet in the painting depicting Allura and the Voltron Force. There is a hint that maybe we’ll be seeing a change in Lotor’s plans based on Haggar’s description of the comet, but it’s subtle and, again, a bit confused. Evidence shows that some, if not all, of Bill Spangler’s work here was doing dialog revisions over an existing script by Tommy Yune, and it’s in muddled moments like Lotor and Haggar’s conversation, or the aforementioned lines Harry Penn draws between the SDF-1 and the dimension-hopping Voltron Force, that it shows the most.

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To sum up, Robotech/Voltron #3 is definitely a high point for the series, with Elmer Damaso and the book’s coloring team continuing to provide stellar sequentials and Bill Spangler stepping in to provide improved dialog to match, but with a clearly flawed underlying blueprint from Tommy Yune there’s only so much they can do to raise the bar. I’m still deeply curious where this series is going, but I worry that we’ll be seeing at least one more sequence of characters from disparate worlds comparing notes for pages and pages, which leaves me little hope of this thing ending in any sort of satisfactory way. I’m not even sure what a satisfactory ending to this series would look like at this point. All I know is, given that we’re still mixing elements at this point, the one we’ll reach in a mere forty-four more pages probably won’t be it.

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