As humanity moves into space through the construction of large space colonies, the calendar era is renamed After Colony (AC). However, conflict follows humanity into space, and the governments of Earth establish the United Earth Sphere Alliance, which initiates a military occupation of the colonies. Following years of oppression, in AC 195 five reentry capsules are launched from five colonies, all on course for Earth. A teenaged girl named Relena Darlian travels in a civilian shuttle to Earth, and she sees what looks like a shooting star as they re-enter the atmosphere. Nearby, OZ Lt. Zechs Merquise, an ace pilot nicknamed the “Lightning Count,” travels in an SST tracking the five capsules. Based on its trajectory, it should reach the J.A.P. Point in Eurasia, and Zechs is convinced it’s part of Operation M. The capsule then breaks apart to reveal the Wing Gundam, piloted by teenager Heero Yuy. Heero wants to avoid detection, so he moves to take down the SST before they can report his location. Zechs orders two Aries aerial mobile suits to launch and decides to sortie in his ground use Leo. The Wing Gundam approaches the OZ suits and transforms before firing its powerful buster rifle, which destroys both Aries suits. Heero fires a second shot, but Zechs is able to dodge it and return fire. He’s surprised to see the enemy suit undamaged by his machine gun fire and presumes it must be made from Gundanium armor. Zechs then grapples onto the Wing Gundam and ejects with a parachute to force it to crash into the ocean. As he floats to the surface, Zechs tells himself that there’s no way the pilot could survive impact. He wonders if the other four capsules contain similar mobile suits. A UESA spaceport near the Strait of Donner is destroyed by Trowa Barton’s Gundam Heavyarms. In the African desert, UESA forces are destroyed by Quatre Raberba Winner’s Gundam Sandrock and his Maganac Corps. At the J.A.P. Point spaceport, Vice Minister Darlian is questioned by reporters about the colonial summit, but he declines to comment. An OZ officer named Lady Une tells Darlian that OZ leader Treize Khushrenada wants to meet him. Darlian apologizes to Relena, but she says she can get home on her own. As Relena walks home by the shore, she spots what looks like a body near the water. She runs over and takes off Heero’s helmet, but then he wakes up and asks if she saw his face. He then pulls out a gun to shoot her, but the gun is then shot out of his hands by Duo Maxwell. Duo asks Relena if she’s OK, but she chides him for shooting at people. Duo then summons his Gundam Deathscythe and prepares to tow away the Wing Gundam, which he found in the ocean. Heero then rushes toward Duo’s cockpit and dodges his gunfire before jumping over to the Wing Gundam’s cockpit. Heero then attacks with his beam saber, but Duo blocks with his beam scythe. Two Aries approach, so Heero and Duo stop fighting each other and destroy the Aries. In China, Shenlong Gundam pilot Wufei Chang destroys a UESA naval fleet and wishes he had stronger enemies. Later, at the Saint Gabriel Private School, Relena is informed that there’s a new transfer student. She recognizes Heero and goes outside to greet him. Heero comments that their business earlier was interrupted and that he intends to kill her.
In Africa, Wufei attacks the UESA training facility at the Lake Victoria Base and destroys the student barracks. OZ Lt. Lucrezia Noin is shocked by the killing of her students and spots the Shenlong Gundam. At Romefeller Foundation headquarters in Europe, Treize receives a video report from Zechs about the devastation at Lake Victoria. Based on the data gathered so far, Zechs believes there are five mobile suits and that they’re constructed from Gundanium alloy based on how they can take damage and still function. Zechs notes that Gundanium can only be manufactured in space, and Treize understands that someone in the colonies built the Gundams to fight OZ. Zechs asks for permission to use the prototype Tallgeese suit stored at Lake Victoria, and Treize grants permission. After the call ends, Treize tells Lady Une that this is Romefeller’s opportunity to take control of space, but first he needs her to take care of Vice Minister Darlian. Heero receives an intelligence report on his school computer about top UESA officials meeting at the New Edwards Base in several days. Heero then goes for a walk away from school grounds and runs into Relena, who asks who he is. Heero answers that he’s just a killer, and Relena asks him to promise that hers is the last life he takes because she knows he has a good heart. Heero then runs over to the Wing Gundam’s cockpit and boards it in time to blast an Aries approaching from above. He then transforms to Bird Mode and flies away, leaving Relena behind. Later, UESA Field Marshall Noventa opens the meeting at the New Edwards Base and gives a speech stating that Earth should disarm itself and encourage the colonies to follow suit. Many of the people at the meeting are part of the pacifist faction of the UESA, which is how Treize planned the meeting to unfold. Noventa’s speech is interrupted by news that multiple Gundams are attacking. Heero runs into Duo, but they’re forced to destroy attacking Leos instead of settling their score. Quatre, Trowa and Wufei arrive on the scene and all fight against the Leo squads. In space, Relena visits a colony with her father, and Lady Une interrupts a meeting to tell Darlian about the attack on Earth. She leaves a makeup compact on the desk, which Relena finds and returns to her. Lady Une then tosses the compact out the window mere seconds before it explodes. After the smoke clears, Relena finds Darlian fatally wounded, and he reveals that she’s not his biological daughter, but instead a Peacecraft from the Sanc Kingdom. With his last words, he warns her to beware of Romefeller and OZ, but she’s then grabbed from behind and whisked away. Trowa runs out of ammo, and Quatre introduces himself and suggests working together to defeat OZ. As Noventa is evacuated by shuttle, Treize tells Gen. Septum to take his personal shuttle to split up the leadership and keep everyone safe. Heero spots OZ markings on Noventa’s shuttle and destroys it immediately after launch. Most of the Gundam pilots then turn their attention to fighting each other, but Wufei tells them this is all useless because news broadcasts prove they were set up. On the news, Septum denounces the Gundams for killing officials who were working to have peace with the colonies. Relena wakes up in the custody of a strange old man who introduces himself as Doctor J. He explains that rescued her from OZ and is also the man who trained Heero how to fight. Relena asks why he’d do that, and Doctor J explains that the colonies nearly achieved peace 20 years ago until their leader, also named Heero Yuy, was assassinated by OZ. He then claims that OZ has outsmarted them again and used the Gundam attack to take control of the UESA military. After Septum gives his speech, Treize has him executed. On Earth, Zechs launches in the Tallgeese and tells Heero that he wants a rematch. A colony at Lagrange Point 1 suddenly explodes, and Lady Une orders the Gundams to surrender before she destroys more colonies. Zechs tells Une that this goes against Treize’s wishes, and she tells him to follow orders. Doctor J calls Une to denounce her for killing innocent civilians and vows that she’ll never get the Gundams. Heero hears Doctor J’s message and initiates the Wing Gundam’s self-destruct system, setting off a large explosion.
A severely wounded Heero falls out of the destroyed Wing Gundam’s cockpit, and Zechs is surprised that a boy was the pilot. One month later at the Barclay Base in Antarctica, Noin reports to Zechs that Heero survived and was carried away by the Gundam Heavyarms. She adds that he is recovering from his injuries, which for Zechs means that he’ll get a rematch. Noin asks why Zechs is going as far as tricking headquarters for the sake of a rematch, and Zechs wonders if it’s knightly instinct. Zechs tells Noin that he wants Heero to join them after the repairs are complete to the Wing Gundam. Noin mentions that Relena is back on Earth and that a Peacecraft butler is helping her look for Heero. Zechs tells Noin that he doesn’t use that name anymore and that Relena will be the one to bring back the Peacecraft name. Zechs comments that he was able to avenge the death of his father and the fall of the Sanc Kingdom as the Lightning Count, so he doesn’t have the right to use the Peacecraft name. Heero wakes up and shouts Relena’s name, and Catherine Bloom tells Trowa that Heero is finally awake. Heero asks how long he’s been out, and Trowa tells him it’s been a month. Heero thinks Trowa should’ve left him for dead, and Trowa explains that as far as the world is concerned, Heero is dead. He adds that OZ has total control over Earth and no further orders have been sent from the colonies. Trowa says they seem to be useless now and should perhaps pass from the world, and Heero comments that death hurts a lot, which makes Trowa laugh. In the Bering Strait, Duo and Quatre join Wufei in attacking the OZ naval fleet that is escorting Treize. Lady Une issues orders to shoot down the Gundams, and Treize tells her that holding the colonies hostage is unacceptable and that she should be more ladylike in the future. Wufei lands on one of the carriers and demands that Treize show himself. Lady Une launches in a Leo equipped with a flight pack and attacks Wufei. He easily knocks her away and sees Treize holding a sword on the command ship. Wufei smashes a hole in the side of the ship and disembarks to face Treize in a duel. Wufei attacks with his sword, but Treize easily disarms him. Wufei tells Treize to kill him, but Treize declines and says Wufei fought well. Wufei vows that he’ll try as many times as it takes to kill Treize, and Treize answers that he looks forward to it. Wufei then retreats in anger, and Lady Une asks Treize why he let the Gundams go. Treize comments that Wufei got out of his suit to fight a fair duel, so next time Treize intends to fight in a mobile suit. Duo and Quatre ask what happened, and Wufei answers that he was completely defeated by Treize and shouldn’t fight because he’s weak. Duo thinks there’s nothing more they can do on Earth and should return to space. Noin finds Trowa’s traveling circus and tells Heero that Zechs repaired the Wing Gundam and wants a rematch in Antarctica. In the Sanc Kingdom, butler Pagan reports to Relena that Heero is alive and recently traveled to Antarctica. Relena asks why he’d do that, and Pagan adds that the Wing Gundam was repaired by Zechs, a knight loyal to the Sanc Kingdom. Relena wants to see Heero and tells Pagan they’re going to Antarctica. Noin introduces Heero and Trowa to Zechs, and Heero says he won’t offer any gratitude. Heero agrees to the rematch, and Zechs explains that although it’s 20 years old, the Tallgeese has similar construction and performance to the Wing Gundam, which leads Zechs to believe that both were built by the same engineer. Both are evenly matched as the battle begins, but Heero is able to destroy Zechs’ dobergun. Relena interrupts the battle by flying by in her jet and pleading with them to stop fighting. Heero tells her to leave, but she refuses to let a pointless fight continue. The two fly away, and Relena goes inside the base and asks Noin to make them stop. Noin answers that she can’t stop Zechs, and Trowa comments that Heero will lose because his arm isn’t fully healed and Zechs will exploit that. Relena calls out to Heero and tells him to kill Zechs, and Noin tells her not to do that because Zechs is her brother. Noin explains that his real name is Milliardo Peacecraft, and Relena is surprised to learn she has an older brother. Noin is informed that a large OZ force is incoming.
Heero tells Trowa that they’d better prepare for battle, and Trowa notes that while the Gundam Heavyarms is designed for long-range combat, they’re still at a huge disadvantage. Noin tells Zechs that she intends to launch in her Aries, but he tells her to help evacuate the base instead. Treize calls Zechs and tells him that he has to give his life for OZ, and Zechs asks what that means. Treize explains that the incoming force is UESA remnants trying to curry favor with the Romefeller Foundation by defeating Zechs and two Gundams. Treize says that if Zechs dies, it will make him a legend and ensure a future for OZ and Romefeller. Zechs understands, and Treize tells him to make sure that Milliardo Peacecraft survives. Zechs tells Trowa and Heero that this battle is for him alone, but they’ll meet again to settle the score. Heero takes off in Bird Mode and latches onto the Gundam Heavyarms. Zechs takes off to face the UESA forces. Elsewhere, Duo and Quatre attack an OZ spaceport in Singapore and are accompanied by Wufei, who doesn’t fight because he doesn’t believe he deserves his Gundam. Duo saves Wufei from a missile attack and tells him to snap out of it, saying that if he’s weak now, he should fight to get stronger. Quatre tells Duo and Wufei to get to a shuttle before activating the Gundam Sandrock’s self-destruct system. Quatre escapes on foot just before it explodes, and they each escape into space on a shuttle. In South America, Trowa and Heero part ways and each head to space on their own. Treize is informed that the UESA forces at the South Pole were almost totally wiped out, but also Zechs is MIA. At the OZ mobile fortress Barge, Lady Une takes on a more feminine appearance and addresses the space colonists, saying they have nothing to fear anymore from the UESA. After the speech, Lady Une changes into her military uniform and is informed about the five Gundam pilots coming up to space. She orders the new Taurus mobile suits to launch and intercept. Duo is forced to fight attacking Taurus units, but he performs poorly because the Gundam Deathscythe is customized for ground combat, and the battle ends with his capture. Duo then tries to self-destruct, but the system doesn’t work. Wufei then attacks as the Tauruses attempt to haul Duo to Barge. Wufei pushes Duo away and then stabs himself in the torso to create an explosion and use it as a propulsive force. With the five scientists held captive on the OZ Lunar Base, Lady Une orders them to improve the Taurus. The scientists offer to build new suits as long as the colonies are left alone. Lady Une agrees on the condition that the Gundam pilots can’t escape punishment. She later tells one of her men that she’ll kill the scientists when they finish their work and use their new suits to destroy the Gundams. Having left the Wing Gundam on Earth, Heero decides to get a space use suit. He concludes that if the five scientists are working for OZ, he’ll have to kill them. He then sneaks into the Lunar Base, where Doctor J is showing Lady Une the new Vayeate and Mercurius suits. Heero then jumps into the Vayeate’s cockpit, and Lady Une orders Cadet Trowa to use the Mercurius and stop him.
When you’re compressing about 20 episodes of a TV series into four chapters of a manga volume, a lot of stuff has to go out the door or be rearranged, and that’s certainly the case here. Tokita slims down a lot of the TV story to cover the initial Earth arc and bring all the Gundam pilots back to space. In addition to things being cut, some other things are outright changed. Notably, the assassination of Vice Minister Darlian now happens simultaneously to the Gundam attack on New Edwards, which actually works as part of OZ making one big power play across Earth and space. In contrast, Darlian’s assassination in the TV series occurs two episodes before New Edwards. Another noticeable difference is that for the Antarctica duel, Heero decides to stick with the Wing Gundam instead of using the Gundam Heavyarms. Because so much is compressed here, there are some things that don’t work as well in the TV series. Heero spends very little time at school here, making his connection to Relena (and her desire to pursue him) more tangential. One highlight of this manga is Go For It, Domon W! 4koma gag strips that feature a mix of characters from Wing and G Gundam. These tightly compressed adaptations seem like a relic from the 90s, as both G Gundam and Gundam Wing have since received newer and longer re-adaptations that add new elements rather than take away things. In the case of Wing, the newer Glory of the Losers adaptation is a better reading experience, so I’d only return to this 90s version out of a sense of nostalgia. However, I wouldn’t recommend the out of print TOKYOPOP release of the manga, which is low quality and full of errors.
Original Review: March 3, 2001