T. R. Edwards

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Thomas Riley Edwards
T.R Edwards.jpg
First appearance Robotech: The Graphic Novel
Created by Carl Macek
Voiced by Michael McConnohie

Thomas Riley (T.R.) Edwards is a fictional character from the universe of Robotech. He would have been a main character in the storyline of the aborted animated sequel series Robotech II: The Sentinels, which was later realized as both a series of a novels and comic books.

Concept and creation[edit]

T.R. Edwards was created by Robotech producer and writer Carl Macek as part of the expanded back-story he crafted for the series. In order to pave the way for his role as a key antagonist in The Sentinels, Edwards was first intended to feature in 1986's Robotech: The Movie; as this movie was an English dub of the direct-to-video Japanese feature, Megazone 23, Edwards was to be the English-language version of that movie's antagonist, simply named "B.D.". Consequently, his name was originally to be B.D. Edwards, and his Sentinels character design was created based on the appearance of "B.D." in the Megazone 23/Robotech: The Movie animation.

The design of Megazone 23′s B.D. (top) was modified to create T.R. Edwards in Robotech: The Graphic Novel (bottom).

Per Macek's original vision, the movie would have taken place during the early stages of the Macross portion of the Robotech storyline, in the early 2010s, but when the story was heavily revised for the final cut of the film, this timeframe was advanced to the year 2027—a point in time when Edwards would not have been able to feature in the story. Consequently, the plan to make B.D. and Edwards the same character was discarded, and the villain of the movie was redubbed "B.D. Andrews". While he retained his basic visual similarity to B.D., Edwards's character designed was modified to have blond hair and a slightly more gaunt face, while he gained the new initials "T.R." (though years later, even Macek's own notes, as published in Robotech Art 3: The Sentinels, continued to refer to Edwards as "B.D.").[1]

Having been removed from Robotech: The Movie, Edwards was instead introduced by Macek in the pages of Robotech: The Graphic Novel, published by Comico Comics in August 1986. This comic introduced Edwards as a mercenary fighter pilot in the years that preceded the beginning of the Robotech television series, and established him as a perennial rival of Roy Fokker.[2] This story was also adapted into the first Robotech novel by Jack McKinney, published by Ballantine Books in 1987.[3]

The withdrawal of partner Matchbox Toys ultimately caused The Sentinels to be cancelled after only approximately three episodes' worth of footage had been completed.[1] This footage was cut together to form a "movie" of sorts that was released directly to video, and in which Edwards briefly appeared, voiced by actor Michael McConnohie.[4] The remainder of the Sentinels storyline, including Edwards's eventual descent into insanity and ultimately, his death, was subsequently told through a series of five more McKinney-penned novels, based on Macek's outline for the unproduced cartoon.[5][6][7][8][9] A comic book adaptation of the Sentinels storyline was also produced by Jason and John Waltrip from 1988 to 1996, across two publishers, but was cancelled before it could reach its conclusion, ending on a huge cliffhanger as Edwards's evil intentions were exposed.[10][11][12][13]

When Harmony Gold decided to reboot the Robotech universe for the 21st century, much of the "expanded universe" material that had been produced for the franchise, like the graphic novel and the Sentinels storyline, was relegated to a position of secondary continuity, free to be overwritten by new material. In line this with, Edwards's early years, as seen in Comico's graphic novel, were re-imagined in the comic book mini-series, Robotech: From the Stars, published WildStorm.[14] Edwards was also at the heart of WildStorm's final Robotech project, Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles, penned by returning creators Jason and John Waltrip. Prelude served to link the upcoming new animated feature, Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles to the timeframe of The Sentinels, and although many of the specific details were different in the revised, post-reboot timeline, it broadly allowed the Waltrips to finish their version of the Sentinels storyline, including a new ending for Edwards.[15]

Fictional character biography[edit]

Early appearances[edit]

Robotech: The Graphic Novel and the opening chapters of the Battlecry novelization by Jack McKinney introduce Edwards when he was a Lieutenant Colonel, acting as a mercenary fighter pilot for the Greater North East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere during the Global Civil War that preceded the crash of the SDF-1 and the beginning of the Robotech television series. The comic established a long-standing rivalry between him and Roy Fokker, owing to many encounters they have had on the battlefield. It is in the midst of one such encounter, in the year 1999, that the SDF-1 explosively arrives on Earth, forcing the two foes to break off their battle. In the wake of the ceasefire that the global unification of government caused by the SDF-1's arrival precipitates, Edwards is assigned to the team that is sent to investigate the crashed spaceship, alongside Fokker and Henry J. Gloval.[2][3]

Robotech II: The Sentinels[edit]

Edwards's activities during the First Robotech War, which broke out in 2009, are mostly unchronicled. The fifth and final Sentinels novel, Rubicon, reveals that during the final stage of the war, he was stationed at the Alaska Base Grand Cannon facility when it was devastated by the Zentraedi armada in the television series episode, "Force of Arms". During this attack, Edwards's face was irreparably scarred, and he forever after wore a half-cowl to cover his wounds. While Rick Hunter had been able to rescue Lisa Hayes from the wreckage of the base, he had not searched for any other survivors, and Edwards's fury at being left for dead by Hunter shaped a grudge he would carry throughout the Sentinels storyline.[9]

In the first act of The Sentinels, covered in McKinney's novel The Devil's Hand and Eternity Comics' 16-issue first volume of the Sentinels series, Edwards is promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and becomes part of the "Pioneer Expedition", leaving Earth on diplomatic mission to Tirol, homeworld of the Robotech Masters, in hopes of preventing more war. Edwards's personal means of preventing further war, however, is to conquer all the alien forces that he can, thereby keeping the Earth safe and under his rule. To achieve this end, he first seeks to take oust Rick Hunter, now an Admiral, from power, first attempting to ruin his wedding to Lisa Hayes, then undercutting his every command when the Robotech Expeditionary Force begins its attempt to liberate Tirol from the clutches of the evil alien Invid. Ultimately, by capturing the Invid Brain, a living organic computer that controls the Invid troops, with the aid of his loyal "Ghost Squadron" unit, Edwards brings the battle on Tirol to an end, but keeps the Brain sealed away in order to plunder its secrets for himself.[5][10]

The second act of The Sentinels, covered by McKinney's "Dark Powers" and Eternity's second volume, running to 21 issues, sees the titular Sentinels—a mismatched rebel cell of aliens whose planets had all been conquered by the Invid—appear on the scene seeking the REF's help in freeing their homeworlds. The xenophobic Edwards initially refuses any aid, until Rick Hunter proposes leaving the SDF-3 himself to join them on their quest. With Hunter and a large number of the troops loyal to him thus removed from the equation, Edwards is left in charge of the military remaining on the SDF-3, and begins manipulating the plenipotentiary council to his own ends. He begins to obsess over Rick Hunter's old flame Lynn Minmei, and resolves to force her into loving him, while at the same time entering into a secret alliance with the Invid leader, the Regent, feeding him information on the Sentinels' movements in an attempt to have Rick Hunter killed.[6][11]

Edwards believes he has succeeded in both his goals at the act's conclusion, unaware that Rick and the Sentinels are still alive on the unstable planet Praxis. In the story's third act, told through McKinney's "Death Dance" and the 22-issue third volume of the Sentinels comics, published by both Eternity and Academy Comics, Edwards invites the Invid Regent to the SDF-3 for peace talks, then proceeds to manipulate events that lead to the Regent's apparent murder (in actuality, it is merely a clone who perishes, though even Edwards is unaware of this). This action results an escalation of war, and under these circumstances, Edwards is able to convince the council to commission the construction of a new fleet of warships that will be placed under his control, which he plans to use to take over the Earth. His plans are stymied, however, by the machinations of his rival aboard the SDF-3, Doctor Emil Lang, who delays him by facilitating the rebellion of the humans' Zentraedi allies.[7][12]

Edwards's evil is finally exposed in the fourth act of The Sentinels, as seen in McKinney's "World Killers" and Academy's 13-issue fourth volume of the comic series. When representatives of the Sentinels returned to Tirol with the Zentraedi and are placed on trial by Edwards over allegations of treason, Doctor Lang is able to trick Edwards into revealing his schemes, then capturing his outburst on video and replaying it for the council. His wicked goals laid bare, Edwards kidnaps Minemi and flees Tirol, covering his escape with an army of Invid mecha controlled by the captive Brain.[8][13] Edwards proceeded to meet his end in the fifth and final installment of The Sentinels, told in the pages of McKinney's Rubicon; no direct comic adaptation of his novel was produced. In this climactic chapter, Edwards escapes to the Invid homeworld of Optera, planning to use its Genesis Pits to engineer a race of monsters that would serve as his army. Ultimately, Edwards perishes when android Janice Em holographically disguises herself as Minmei in order to get close to Edwards, then sacrifices herself to tumble him into the Genesis Pit, ending his life.[9]

WildStorm comics[edit]

T.R. Edwards's revised character design featured in the WildStorm Robotech comics. This design would later be merged with his Sentinels cowl and uniform for Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles.

When the Robotech universe was rebooted for the 21st century, Edwards's original debut story from Robotech: The Graphic Novel was overwritten by the new mini-series, Robotech: From the Stars. In this new tale, he does not meet Roy Fokker until after the war has ended, and shares a far less antagonistic relationship with him as his supervisor during the early days of Veritech fighter development. However, Edwards is actually a mole for Colonel Anatole Leonard, who secretly opposes the new Unified Earth Government and is working to get the Veritech program shut down so that its remnants can be placed under his control. The plan meets with failure when Fokker stops Leonard's other operative, Shawn Arnold, from hijacking the Armor-1 space platform. At the conclusion of the series, Edwards is reassigned to Alaska Base, setting up his fate in The Sentinels.[14]

WildStorm's final Robotech project, Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles, was an alternate conclusion of the Sentinels storyline, picking up—very broadly speaking—where the Waltrip's original comic adaptation of the series had left off, with Edwards's treachery being exposed. The timeline had advanced to the year 2043 (where the original Sentinels comic had left off around 2027) and many of the specific details of the back-story were different in the revised timeline, but the story proceeded in the same basic way, with Edwards kidnapping Minmei and fleeing to Optera with the aid of the Invid Regent, with the major addition of the mysterious new "Shadow Technology" being employed by Edwards in order to set up its role in the animated Shadow Chronicles feature. In the final showdown on Optera, as in the Rubicon novel, Edwards is sent plummeting into the depths of the Genesis Pit, but in a twist on the ending that the Waltrip brothers had intended to implement for their original comic adaptation, he survives the pit and emerges as a grotesque, hulking creature, fused with the Invid brain. Janice remains his undoing, sacrificing herself to serve as a signal beacon for the SDF-3 in orbit above Optera to track and fire upon, obliterating Edwards.

The final issue of Prelude, in particular, elaborates on certain aspects of Edwards's character that are noticeably different from those of the madman from the original Sentinels storyline. Edwards's grudge against Rick Hunter is not merely over his own facial scars, but the life of a woman he loved who also perished in the ruins of Alaska Base as Rick and Lisa escaped. His goal is not the immediate domination of Earth, but in fact its liberation from the Invid Regess, who had conquered it in 2031, a story thread only made possible by the advancement of the timeline over the original Sentinels setting. Additionally, Edwards, through communication with the captured Invid Brain, appears to have become aware of the Haydonites' (one of the Sentinel ally races) true intentions which would be revealed in the 2006 film Robotech The Shadow Chronicles.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Carl Macek, Robotech Art 3: The Sentinels, 1988, Starblaze Graphics
  2. ^ a b Carl Macek, Robotech: The Graphic Novel, 1986, Comico Comics
  3. ^ a b Jack McKinney, Boobytrap, 1987, Ballantine Books
  4. ^ Robotech II: The Sentinels VHS, 1987, Palladium Books
  5. ^ a b Jack McKinney, The Devil's Hand, 1988, Ballantine Books
  6. ^ a b Jack McKinney, Dark Powers', 1988, Ballantine Books
  7. ^ a b Jack McKinney, Death Dance, 1988, Ballantine Books
  8. ^ a b Jack McKinney, World Killers, 1988, Ballantine Books
  9. ^ a b c Jack McKinney, Rubicon, 1988, Ballantine Books
  10. ^ a b Chris Ulm, Tom Mason, Jason and John Waltrip, Robotech II: The Sentinels Book I #1-16 1988-1990, Eternity Comics
  11. ^ a b Chris Ulm, Tom Mason, Jason and John Waltrip, Robotech II: The Sentinels Book II #1-21 1990-1993, Eternity Comics
  12. ^ a b Jason and John Waltrip, Robotech II: The Sentinels Book III #1-22, 1993-1995, Eternity Comics and Academy Comics
  13. ^ a b Jason and John Waltrip, Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #0-13, 1995-1996, Academy Comics
  14. ^ a b Tommy Yune and Jay Faerber, Robotech: From the Stars, 2002, WildStorm
  15. ^ a b Jason and John Waltrip, Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles, 2005-2006, WildStorm