The first novel I ever attempted to write was a Star Trek/Star Wars crossover. I was a teenager and the story began with heroes Kirk and Spock blasting through a wormhole where they came across an Imperial Star Destroyer and found themselves in a shooting battle. This type of story – a property crossover – wasn't original and had been tried many times over, especially in comic books. For example, when Marvel owned the licences to the Hasbro properties GI Joe and Transformers, they produced a four part crossover mini-series in 1986. More recently, Star Trek: The Next Generation crossed with the BBC’s Dr. Who in 2012 in an eight issue mini-series by IDW. And just a couple months ago, IDW further announced that it was going back to the Hasbro well with Joes and Autobots being mashed together again, this time in an ongoing series beginning in the summer of 2014.
So it was with these past comics in mind – as well as a dose of cautious nostalgia for two properties I loved as a kid – that I picked up Voltron Robotech #1, the first issue of a new five issue mini-series by Dynamite Entertainment. To this day I still read and enjoy the 1980s Comico Robotech comics and have always wanted to see Voltron as a comic book. (I do not know of another Voltron comic series.) That said, the aforementioned caution comes from the fact that while both properties are anime, other than that they don’t have a whole lot in common. Voltron for instance takes place in a distant future or universe that has a magical quality to it, while Robotech is a harder and more military-focused science-fiction. Below are two pages from the comic dealing with the Voltron and Robotech properties respectively.
|This page focuses on the Voltron aspect of the comic...|
|...and this one the Robotech.|
So how did a comic merging the two properties together do? Well, while I’m always a little hesitant to judge a series on the merits of one issue, I have to say for the most part I was underwhelmed by this comic. Sure, in this short introduction to the story, the creators needed to re-establish two universes – no easy task – but I found much of the opening aspects of the comic rather unnecessary. For example, the first three pages consist of the old Voltron Peter Cullen TV voice over, and this could have been easily finished in the splash. From there I found the rest of the book sparse with its written story-telling almost devoid of captions that would have been very helpful in explaining how these two diverse stories were coming together. Blending two established canons is very difficult, and the book should have errored on the side of more information rather than what they did in issue #1.
|What on Earth indeed?|
That said, the art of this book is good and has a classic anime feel to it. The colour palette is rich, as would be expected of this sort of book, and there are no surprises with the panels looking much like anything that's been seen a hundred times before in either Voltron or Robotech. Because of this, if you're inclined to read this type of comic, I'm not going out on a limb in telling you that you already know exactly what you're getting.
But overall the story just lacked a coherent punch to really excite me. Make no mistake, I'm very forgiving of these first issues and will pick up the second. But this is largely on the strength of my affection towards these properties rather than the first issue. Things could turn around, but as things stand it's unlikely I’ll buy #3. For that to happen the second issue will have to have much stronger story-telling and give us more of the great characters we know from both of these properties. Combining these two properties was a cool idea, but because it's otherwise a lacklustre comic book, issue #1 of Robotech Voltron only gets 2.5/5 STARS.