Zor (Robotech)

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This article is about the Robotech character. For other uses, see Zor (disambiguation).
Zor
Zor dvd cover.jpg
Zor Prime, with the Invid Flower of Life
First appearance Robotech: The Graphic Novel (Zor)
Episode 41 – "Half Moon" (Zor Prime)
Robotech II: The Sentinels (Rem)
Created by Carl Macek
Voiced by Paul St. Peter (Zor Prime)

Zor is a fictional character from the Robotech franchise. A major character in the backstory and expanded universe of the franchise, he does not appear in the television cartoon, but several clones of him factor heavily into the saga's continuing plot.

Concept and creation[edit]

Zor was created by Robotech writer Carl Macek as the central figure of the expanded backstory he developed in order to link together the three unrelated Japanese anime that were merged to create the series: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA. Broadly speaking, Zor was to be a member of the alien race from the Southern Cross, the creator of the ship from Macross, and creator of the energy source Protoculture, which he stole from the aliens from Mospeada.

The original Southern Cross model sheet for Seifreit Weisse, whose appearance became the basis for Zor.

The basic kernel for the idea of Zor was found by Macek in the character of Seifreit Weisse from Southern Cross; in the original Japanese series, he was a brainwashed human being, but for Robotech, Macek repurposed him as "Zor Prime", an amnesiac clone of Zor himself. The name "Zor" came from the aliens in Southern Cross, who were redubbed as "Robotech Masters" for Robotech.

Per Macek's new story, Zor is deceased at the outset of the Robotech television series, and as the series was dubbed animation taken from a show in which he did not actually exist, the character's history could be touched upon only vaguely within the finished programme. Macek detailed Zor's backstory more fully within a year of Robotech's television debut, in the 1986 Comico publication, Robotech: The Graphic Novel, which described Zor's theft of the Flower of Life from the alien Invid, his creation of Protoculture, his subsequent rebellion against the Robotech Masters, and his death at the hands of the Invid.[1] These elements were all adapted by author Jack McKinney into his 1987 series of Robotech novels, which further posited that Zor was acting under the influence of the "Shapings of Protoculture", a cosmic force that guided his actions.[2] The McKinney novels were also able to incorporate some of the information on Zor's legacy from the production notes for the aborted sequel project, Robotech II: The Sentinels (publicly published in the art book Robotech Art 3),[3] culminating in a particularly detailed exploration of his drives in the chronologically final book, The End of the Circle.[4] McKinney's novels were in turn adapted by Eternity Comics and Academy Comics into a comic book series;[5][6][7][8] although the comic was cancelled before reaching the events of The End of the Circle, a large portion of that book's information was covered in Eternity's companion mini-series, The Legend of Zor.[9]

Fictional character biography[edit]

The original Zor[edit]

Zor, in his first published appearance from Robotech: The Graphic Novel. The character was based on the animated model of Weisse/Zor Prime.

Jack McKinney's novels were the first to detail the full history of Zor, a native scientist of the planet Tirol, third moon of Fantoma, in the Valivarre system. The novel The Final Nightmare describes how, while on a mission to search for new sources of energy for his home world, Zor discovers the planet Optera, homeworld of the docile Invid and their Flower of Life.[10] The End of the Circle and The Legend of Zor further explain that the Invid queen-mother, the Regess, mistakes Zor for the returning Haydon, an ancient and powerful alien intelligence who had conducted evolutionary experiments all across that region of space, and who was responsible for bringing the Flower of Life to Optera. Exploiting her misconception, Zor seduces the Regess and learns from her of the incredible power locked within the Flower of Life. Returning to Tirol with the Flower, he discovers how to convert its bio-energy into Protoculture, an energy source that prompts a technological renaissance on the planet and soon becomes key to the Tirolian way of life.[4][9]

Coerced into doing so by the rulers of Tirol, the Robotech Masters (the novels refer only to a vague "compulsion" the Masters placed upon him; The Legend of Zor shows that Zor's father Zol, a Tirolian senator, is imprisoned to force Zor into obedience), Zor returns to Optera and defoliates the planet entirely, robbing the Invid of the Flower. Eventually, the guilt over his actions prompts Zor to betray the Masters, and he flees Tirol with the only Protoculture Matrix, robbing the Masters of the ability to create more Protoculture. Seeking a means of recompense, The End of the Circle describes how Zor travels to the artificial planet of Haydon IV and communes with its all-knowing artificial intelligence, the Awareness, learning the full history of Haydon, his experiments, and the Flower of Life. Resolving to follow Haydon's path (unknowingly completing a far-reaching plan Haydon had always intended upon), Zor begins to seed all the planets touched by Haydon with the Flower of Life, intending to return the flowers to their true home world, Earth, as the final step in his plan.

It is while he is on this mission that we join Zor at the beginning of Robotech: The Graphic Novel, in which an attack by the Invid — now a corrupted and warlike race following his betrayal — costs him his life. Before dying, he sends his ship, the SDF-1, containing the Protoculture Matrix, into hyperspace on auto-pilot, sending the Flowers back to Earth. The Robotech Masters probe the deceased Zor's memory and learn the SDF-1's destination, leading directly into the first episode of the Robotech television series, "Boobytrap," in which the SDF-1 crashes on the planet, and in which Zor himself is briefly name-checked in the dialogue.[1][11]

Zor Prime[edit]

The original Zor would be mentioned again in the twenty-ninth episode of the series, titled "The Robotech Masters", while the following episode, "Viva Miriya", introduces the concept of the Masters cloning him.[12][13] The aliens hope that the memory of how to create a Protoculture Matrix and save their race from extinction survives in Zor's genetic material, and so create a clone from his tissue, dubbed "Zor Prime", and voiced in the series by actor Paul St. Peter. Zor Prime has none of the original Zor's memories, and is instead appointed warlord of the Robotech Masters' invasion force when they initiate the Second Robotech War against earth in an attempt to reclaim the Protoculture Matrix in the SDF-1; the character debuts in full in episode forty-one, "Half Moon".[14]

Seeking to plant a spy among the ranks of their human opponents (and, per McKinney's Metal Fire novelization, hoping that exposure to human emotion will reawaken Zor's memories within him), the Robotech Masters wipe Zor's mind and allow him to be captured in episode forty-eight, "Deja Vu".[15][16] The human military, hoping that the amnesiac Zor Prime will be able to provide them with intelligence, place him with the 15th Armored Tactical Assault Corps division, where he meets commanding officer Dana Sterling. When the Masters attempt to "reactivate" him in episode fifty-four, the failed attempt to collect and then wipe his recollections partially unlocks the memories of the original Zor within him.[17] Once his memories are fully restored after a series of revealing events which include revisiting the site of the SDF-1 where the lost Protoculture Matrix lies, Zor dedicates himself to revenge against the Robotech Masters, sacrificing his own life in episode sixty, "Catastrophe", to crash their flagship into the remains of the SDF-1 in hopes of destroying the Matrix within. Unfortunately, Zor's sacrifice is in vain, as the explosion scatters the contents of the Matrix–now matured into the Flower of Life–across the Earth, drawing the attention of the Invid to the planet and beginning the Third Robotech War.[18]

Rem[edit]

Rem as appeared in the Sentinels animated feature. Note his similar, but not identical, appearance to Zor/Zor Prime, including a different hairstyle.

Although the sequel series The Sentinels was canceled, three episodes' worth of footage were completed that were released as a direct-to-video movie. In this feature and its adaptation as part of the novel The Devil's Hand by McKinney, we are introduced to Cabell, an elderly Tirolian scientist who was a contemporary of Zor's, and his apprentice Rem.[5][19][20] The continuation of the Sentinels story in McKinney's novels and their comic book adaptation reveals that Rem is actually the first clone of Zor, created by Cabell from his remains before the Robotech Masters obtained them, and raised without knowledge of his origins.

Rem and Cabell join the Robotech heroes on their quest to free Haydon's worlds from the grip of the Invid, his resemblance to Zor drawing the attention of Dr. Emil Lang, who has his android agent Janice Em monitor Rem closely, leading to a romantic relationship beginning between the two. A major turning point occurs in the third Sentinels novel, Death Dance, when the Sentinels' mission takes them to the planet Garuda, whose psychotropic atmosphere unlocks Zor's memories within Rem.[7][21] Taken to Haydon IV in the following book, World Killers, Rem is informed of his true nature by the Invid, and begins struggling with the ramifications.[8][22]

Following Janice Em's death in the final Sentinels novel, Rubicon, the final chapters of the book describe how Rem begins a relationship with Robotech mainstay character, Lynn-Minmei, and how his emerging memories allow him to help Lang and Cabell construct a new Protoculture Matrix.[23] In The End of the Circle, Minmei's songs help Rem to unlock the last of Zor's memories, and it is revealed that Minmei is pregnant with their child. At the book's climax, the returned Haydon spirits Rem and Minmei away to the new universe he has created, where they live in paradise, with Minmei confident in the knowledge that somehow, their child will become Zor himself–in accordance with an idea formulated by Carl Macek as part of a plan for an unmade third Robotech television series, "The Odyssey", making the series a true circle.[4] Though standing in apparent contradiction to Zor's depiction as the son of Zol in The Legend of Zor, McKinney's later novel, 1995's The Master's Gambit would reconcile this by implying that Zor was a ward of the Tirolian state who Zol raised.[24]

Post-reboot[edit]

In preparation for the release of the new animated feature, Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, Harmony Gold declared a reboot of the Robotech timeline which relegated all non-cartoon material to a position of "secondary" continuity, free to be overwritten by new material. With this, it remains unclear just how much of Zor's early history and the forces driving him remain as part of the "new" continuity. Haydon's grand plan seems impossible, and certainly the events of The End of the Circle were completely overwritten by the film. Rem remains part of continuity, however, putting in a brief appearance in the final issue of film's comic-book prologue, Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles, his appearance unsettling Dana Sterling as it did in The End of the Circle. The comic also features a new Protoculture Matrix, indicating that the story element of Rem creating one remains in place.[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Carl Macek, Robotech: The Graphic Novel, 1986, Comico Comics
  2. ^ Jack McKinney, Boobytrap, 1987, Ballantine Books
  3. ^ Carl Macek, Robotech Art 3: The Sentinels, 1988, Starblaze Graphics
  4. ^ a b c Jack McKinney, The End of the Circle, 1989, Ballantine Books
  5. ^ a b Chris Ulm, Tom Mason, Jason and John Waltrip, Robotech II: The Sentinels Book I #1-16 1988-1990, Eternity Comics
  6. ^ Chris Ulm, Tom Mason, Jason and John Waltrip, Robotech II: The Sentinels Book II #1-21 1990-1993, Eternity Comics
  7. ^ a b Jason and John Waltrip, Robotech II: The Sentinels Book III #1-22, 1993-1995, Eternity Comics and Academy Comics
  8. ^ a b Jason and John Waltrip, Robotech II: The Sentinels Book IV #0-13, 1995-1996, Academy Comics
  9. ^ a b Jason and John Waltrip, Robotech: Genesis - The Legend of Zor, 1994, Eternity Comics
  10. ^ Jack McKinney, The Final Nightmare, 1987, Ballantine Books
  11. ^ Robotech episode 1, "Boobytrap" – officially available on YouTube via Manga Entertainment.
  12. ^ Robotech episode 29, "The Robotech Masters" – officially available on YouTube via Manga Entertainment.
  13. ^ Robotech episode 30, "Viva Miriya" – officially available on YouTube via Manga Entertainment.
  14. ^ Robotech episode 41, "Half Moon" – officially available on YouTube via Manga Entertainment.
  15. ^ Robotech episode 48, "Deja Vu" – officially available on YouTube via Manga Entertainment.
  16. ^ Jack McKinney, Metal Fire, 1987, Ballantine Books
  17. ^ Robotech episode 54, "Mind Games" – officially available on YouTube via Manga Entertainment.
  18. ^ Robotech episode 60, "Catastrophe" – officially available on YouTube via Manga Entertainment.
  19. ^ Robotech II: The Sentinels VHS, 1987, Palladium Books
  20. ^ Jack McKinney, "The Devil's Hand", 1988, Ballantine Books
  21. ^ Jack McKinney, "Death Dance", 1988, Ballantine Books
  22. ^ Jack McKinney, "World Killers", 1988, Ballantine Books
  23. ^ Jack McKinney, "Rubicon", 1988, Ballantine Books
  24. ^ Jack McKinney, "The Master's Gambit", 1995, Ballantine Books
  25. ^ Jason and John Waltrip, Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles, 2005-2006, WildStorm