Kazuhisa Kondo’s brief introduction to English-speaking Gundam fans came by way of Gundam 0079, a lackluster adaption of the original Mobile Suit Gundam TV series that was released by Viz in the early 2000s. Gundam 0079 would soon be eclipsed by original Gundam character designer Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s Gundam the Origin as the go-to manga version of the One Year War. But Gundam 0079 was always an outlier among Kondo’s Gundam repertoire – his work typically focused on military grunts and non-Newtype humans battling it out on the periphery of the animated works.
Many of Kondo’s stories take place during the One Year War, but Revival of Zeon does not. Set sometime between ZZ Gundam and Char’s Counterattack, Revival of Zeon focuses on an invasion of Earth by Char’s Neo-Zeon forces following the death of Haman Karn. While canonically set in UC 0092 – one year before the events in Char’s Counterattack – much of Revival of Zeon would not be considered “canon.” Sazabis in camo nets engage in firefights in dense European forests while Zeta Gundams in waverider mode launch airstrikes against enemy positions.
Kondo’s strengths lie in his original designs and visual language that often sees his mobile suits decked out in camouflage and weathered by war, hunkered down in realistic dug-in positions. While the original Gundam and spin-offs like Gundam 0080 pushed mecha warfare in more “realistic” directions, Kondo takes it to its logical endpoint. Giant robot warfare is inherently unrealistic but mixed in with plenty of real-world gear, you might be fooled into thinking it isn’t.
What follows are translations from the introductory pages of Revival of Zeon showing a survey of Neo-Zeon troops (just called “Zeon” in the original Japanese text) on Earth. For more on Kazuhisa Kondo, read my earlier article, Camo Nets, Zimmerit, and Grit: The Gundam Manga of Kazuhisa Kondo.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Revival of Zeon
Kazuhisa Kondo, 1988
Even after Haman Karn’s death, the war between Zeon ground forces and Federation suppression units continue. As Zeon troops take a break to resupply, let’s take a look at their forces.
Around the time of Operation Crusader, the Hizack D was sent to the northwest Russian front. The D-type is the lightweight version of the space warfare B-type and features lengthened skirts to accommodate ground-running vernier boosters and structural reinforcements. The emblem for the 176th MS Brigade can be seen on the right shoulder’s shield while the number 101 suggests it’s a commander’s mobile suit. It carries an MG-5011 heavy machine gun, which is very unusual. Marching in front of it is an MS-108 Marasai that’s missing its righter shoulder shield, possibly removed to increase mobility. At this point in the war, Zeon forces were dominating Federation troops, evidenced by the relaxed demeanor of the soldiers marching alongside.
MS-106 Hizack D
The Hizack D is a lightened version of the Hizack B, with stronger verniers for ground movement. As a result, its terrestrial performance is much better than the B-type.
MS-06D Desert Zaku
An MS-06 Zaku II Tropical Type. Because it was commonly deployed in the desert, this type was given the nickname “Desert Zaku.” Thanks to its enlarged skirt, this particular type has hover capabilities. Because it shares parts with the Hizack, repair and maintenance is easy. Numerous subtypes were developed and deployed.
Late Eastern Front, 51st Assault MS Division. On the left is an MS-09 Dom G fitted with some H-type parts, a reminder that materiel is always in short supply on the frontline. Behind it marches an immaculate Dom F carrying a PzG44 gun. Both units have zimmerit coating applied to their armor skirts.
A mechanic paints the results of the day’s battle on the head of a Hizack. You can compare the size of the person and the head of the MS to understand just how big the Hizack is. Late in the war, with supplies running low, Zeon forces were forced to make do with outdated mobile suits like this. Forced to fight on a daily basis, many pilots became soon became aces by destroying at least five enemy vehicles.
African front, Zeon 91st Infantry Division. Judging from the soldier’s expressions and the laughing high ranking officer in the front, this photo was likely taken early in the war.
A destroyed MS-06D somewhere on the South African front. Judging by the damage, it was likely taken down with ballistic fire rather than explosives. It appears the power generator took a direct hit, dislodging the suit’s backpack.
In a scene reminiscent of the Battle of Odessa, Zeon soldiers retreat on foot after defeat in Africa. Some soldiers carry jerry cans with drinking water. In the distance is a destroyed Hizack.
As the war continued, the Zeon army became increasingly concerned about the lack of usable mobile suits. Development of a new type of mobile suit began, with high production quotas being the top priority. Produced at about 2/3 the cost of a normal mobile suit, the MS-109A was designed primarily for defensive actions and small-scale skirmishes. However, it demonstrated impressive performance on the battlefield and was quickly pushed into mass production in an effort to phase out aging MS still in use like the Zaku, Gouf, and Dom. Deployed in both space and on Earth, the MS-109A was smaller than other mobile suits and as a result soon earned the nickname “Goblin” or “Little Devil.”
The 64th MS Division on the move. This division likely includes a corps headquarters. At the front of the column is the PMX-003 The O II heavy mobile suit, to its left is a Goblin, to its right a Marasai. Five or six O II’s were deployed to the African front, inflicting heavy damage on Federation troops.
A Marasai-G belonging to the Zeon 6th Army’s 16th Armor MS Division. Look closely and you’ll notice it has the larger armor skirt and shoulder armor of the H-type. This was likely near the end of the ground war, as a Geara Doga can be seen in the background. Although their faces are covered, the inevitability of defeat can be seen in the body language of the soldiers nearby. This photo was taken somewhere in Northern Europe, as evidenced by the soldiers’ cold weather gear. It’s unknown if these soldiers were able to escape safely to space.