by snowbi-wan, updated Jul 2019
Robotech began life in the United States in 1985 as an 85-episode anime television series produced by Harmony Gold, reworked from three visually similar, but distinct, Japanese anime series produced by Tatsunoko. Robotechnology refers to the scientific advances that humanity made--especially giant, transforming, robot mecha--from reverse engineering the technology of an abandoned alien spacecraft that crashed on Earth. When the aliens track down their missing craft and belligerently try to reclaim it, a young, untested crew use what resources and ingenuity they have to lure the aliens away from Earth. But that's just the beginning of this epic story of transformable mecha, apocalyptic battles, wartime romance, and catchy music that spans generations for the ultimate fate of Earth.
For many, Robotech holds a special place in their adolescence. While it could easily be grouped in with the other transforming robots of the day, appearing as both toys and cartoons, Robotech did stand apart. As one of the earliest examples of anime-inspired science fiction animation to appear in the United States (following the highly successful Star Blazers), the television series was also a pioneer in that it told an ongoing story with essential continuity--where the characters grew and changed with time--instead of an episodic story that reset to some baseline setup with each episode. This was a new concept to American audiences. Robotech was not a straight dub of the Japanese source animation into English either, it was rather an amalgamation of three different sources, woven together to make an apparently seamless story across generations. The animated television show was a runaway success with an equally popular line of comic books adapting the show, as well as a popular role-playing game based on the franchise. Over the years, Harmony Gold has had a quizzically difficult time parlaying the initial success of their import with follow-on material, not for lack of trying though, as there are more cancelled follow-on animation projects than realized ones.
The license to publish Robotech comic books has passed between several publishers since the 1980's. DC published a single 2-issue mini-series in 1984 based off the Robotech Defenders line of models, but Comico had the license to adapt the Harmony Gold cartoon series. The three main Comico series are foundational material and considered primary canon, but Comico never really expanded beyond the animated television series and unfortunately went bankrupt. At the end of 1988, Eternity picked up the license next and produced a plethora of material based off the Sentinels storylines from the Jack McKinney novels as well as the cancelled television series of the same name. This wealth of material is considered secondary canon material. It's not considered primary canon material, but it hasn't been officially overwritten by any subsequent canon material, so it could still fit into canon if left alone and acknowledged. The Robotech comic book license transitioned to Academy Comics in 1994, as Eternity (then an imprint of Malibu) was downsizing in the waning days of the black and white market and about to be acquired by Marvel. Academy published many one-shot issues vice ongoing series, although the ongoing Sentinels did continue. Harmony Gold revoked Academy's license in 1997 possibly due to the declining quality of the comic book material. Antarctic Press took over and produced some good material, although the timeline had become bloated and confusing by then. From 2002-2005 DC/Wildstorm obtained the license and made a quality attempt at reviving the franchise with new primary canon material in anticipation of new primary canon animated material, namely Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, a feature-length animated sequel to the original Robotech storyline. 2002 saw the wholesale de-canonization of almost everything that had come after the original television series with Wildstorm's series concentrating on the original material's era or directly after it. Comic material--as part of the whole franchise--fizzled out again after the sequel, although there was a Voltron cross-property crossover in 2013 from Dynamite. In 2017, Titan obtained the license for Robotech comic books and produced a loose remake of the original Macross Saga comic series from Comico which slowly diverged by introducing elements from all three original series. This series was followed by another in this new, re-imagined 'REMIX' relaunch. They also began an ambitious compilation endeavor with the intention to reprint much of the original material, long since out of print in any form.
In modern comic publishing, it's common (and expected) for individual comic book issues to be collected into compilations of trade paperbacks and/or hardcovers, as well as other special compilations. Unlike the individual source issues, the collected editions typically stay in print for long periods and are less 'collectible.' If individual issues are out of reach or are not of interest to you or if you just need reading copies, the following collected editions of Robotech comic books are the most recent in-print editions and are the perfect alternative to get started right away with Robotech. The following compilations are presented in a chronologically-based suggested reading order with softcover editions before any hardcover editions (unless the only in-print editions are hardcover--these are integrated into the softcover list).
The Titan remake series is just getting started, and all previous series' editions are out-of-print. However, Titan is planning to reissue a plethora of Robotech material in a series of 20 trade paperbacks! (The release dates for these compilations are only estimates and in most cases are off by several months or more.)
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|Cover||Release Month||Series / Number / Storyline|
|Quick View||Apr 2018||ROBOTECH ARCHIVES: THE MACROSS SAGA [2018-TPB] VOL 01|
|Go to Amazon|
|Quick View||Aug 2018||ROBOTECH ARCHIVES: THE MACROSS SAGA [2018-TPB] VOL 02|
|Go to Amazon|
|Quick View||Nov 2018||ROBOTECH ARCHIVES: THE MACROSS SAGA [2018-TPB] VOL 03|
|Go to Amazon|
|Quick View||Jan 2018||ROBOTECH [2017-TPB] VOL 01|
|Go to Amazon|
|Quick View||Jun 2018||ROBOTECH [2017-TPB] VOL 02: BYE BYE, MARS|
|Go to Amazon|
|Quick View||Nov 2018||ROBOTECH [2017-TPB] VOL 03: BLIND GAME|
|Go to Amazon|
|Quick View||May 2019||ROBOTECH [2017-TPB] VOL 04: LISA'S REPORT|
|Go to Amazon|
|Quick View||Aug 2019||ROBOTECH [2017-TPB] VOL 05: SHOWDOWN|
|Go to Amazon|
|Quick View||Oct 2019||ROBOTECH [2017-TPB] VOL 06: EVENT HORIZON||UNAVAILABLE||$14.44|
|Quick View||Aug 2019||ROBOTECH ARCHIVES: ROBOTECH II: THE SENTINELS [2019-TPB] VOL 01||UNAVAILABLE||$21.24|
|Quick View||May 2020||ROBOTECH ARCHIVES: THE MASTERS [2020-TPB] VOL 01||UNAVAILABLE||$29.74|
|Quick View||Feb 2020||ROBOTECH REMIX [2019-TPB] VOL 01: DEJA VU||UNAVAILABLE||$14.44|
The first appearance of a character in comic book form is often the most valuable issue featuring that character. It's a nice place to get started in Robotech, if it's within your budget. As with many first appearances in comics, the first appearance of Robotech is open to a bit of interpretation. On sale in the exact same timeframe of what is considered to be the actual first appearance of the traditional Robotech series based on Harmony Gold's adaptation was a 2-issue mini-series from DC called ROBOTECH DEFENDERS based on the Revell line of plastic models which actually combines mecha designs from Macross, Orguss, and Dougram. Originally solicited as a 3-issue mini-series, the final two issues were edited into one issue, such that it became a 2-issue mini-series overall. Although Robotech is in the name, this series is not actually related to the popular Robotech incarnation. Robotech proper was introduced in MACROSS  #1 from Comico, but was only titled this for one issue before it became ROBOTECH: THE MACROSS SAGA  with issue #2. (ROBOTECH DEFENDERS  #1 and MACROSS  #1 have counter-intuitive series numbers based on their publication dates only because of the way different companies apply cover dates. DC gave a cover date of January to any comics it published in November of the prior year. Comico was using cover dates of the same month of publication. We apply series numbers preferentially based off of cover dates when available.) MACROSS  #1 is considered the first appearance of the traditional Robotech series based on Harmony Gold's adaptation. ROBOTECH DEFENDERS  #1 could be more correctly interpreted as the first appearance of any Robotech adaptation. Relative market values tend to indicate which issue the market gives more weight to in claims of first appearances. MACROSS  #1 is ahead in value, but both issues are listed below for completeness.
The original presentation of an origin story or a retelling/recounting of it can be a good place to get started with a character or subject. But, there is no origin story, per se, for the Robotech saga. The 1985 animated television series was adapted in MACROSS  #1 and continued in ROBOTECH: THE MACROSS SAGA  #2-36. Titan produced a new adaptation beginning in 2017 with ROBOTECH . Although not an origin at all, we list ROBOTECH II: THE SENTINELS  #0 below because it contains a timeline and summary of the events that occurred in the entire Robotech saga, from Zor's birth, through the Macross, Sentinels, Masters and New Generations sagas to the search for the lost SDF-3.
Series beginnings are always great places to get started in comic books. Here is the Main Publication History for Robotech comic books. This is an exhaustive list of Robotech series from all publishers. The license to publish Robotech comic books has passed between several publishers since the 1980's. Comico, Eternity, Academy, Antarctic Press, and DC/Wildstorm have taken turns, and currently, Titan is producing comic material in a new 'remix' re-imagining.
This section contains a curated list of some of the best storylines for Robotech, any one of which can be a good place to get started.
|1984||MACROSS  #1; ROBOTECH: THE MACROSS SAGA  #2-5 (first story arc sets up the entire Robotech epic)|
|1988||ROBOTECH II: THE SENTINELS  #1-16 (a 10-year run with 72 issues, specials, a prequel, spin-offs of its own and a sequel...Sentinels is a solid continuation of the original material, regardless of its canonicity)|
|1992||ROBOTECH GENESIS: THE LEGEND OF ZOR  #1-6 (satisfying origin of the Robotech Masters)|
|1992||ROBOTECH: INVID WAR  #1-18 (one of the better-written spin-offs with great art)|
|1998||ROBOTECH: CLASS REUNION  #1 (fan-favorite one-shot from Antarctic Press with an 'in-Universe' feel)|
|2003||ROBOTECH  #0-6 (origin of Roy Fokker from DC/Wildstorm)|
|2003||ROBOTECH: LOVE AND WAR  #1-6 (explores the ace pilots, Max and Miriya's, relationship)|
|2017||ROBOTECH  #1-5 (first story arc in Titan's reimagining of ROBOTECH: THE MACROSS SAGA)|
If you've enjoyed non-comic media for Robotech, this section describes the comic book source material for some of the most popular non-comic media. But, with Robotech, movies and other media are typically not produced from comic source material. Comic book adaptations and comic book spin-offs are produced from movies and other media.
A key issue can be an acceptable place to get started with Robotech, but they are more of a collector's checklist, as they can carry high price tags. Many of Academy's comics are scarce, particularly toward the end of their license tenure. We include a bunch here in case you discover them in bargain bins.
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