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Re:tro Re:view – Rom the Spaceknight!

Jondee here on Galador,

0ae3084c189538c3f08f1b70f3d2891c Parker Brothers Rom ad.

There were a few toys that were made into comic books, Micronauts, tiny toys with detachable parts, who explored the Microverse in Micronauts #1 (1979) from Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #1 (1982) by Larry Hama and Herb Trimpe which moved the bearded doll to combat ready action figures, and Transformers #1 (1984) by Bill Mantlo and Frank Springer based on transformable mecha toys. Another toy made comic book was Rom the Spaceknight again scripted by Bill Mantlo. The toy was doll sized, silver, with strange accessories; his Neutralizer weapon, an Analyzer, a box-like device that can detect his enemy, the Dire Wraiths from the Dark Nebula, and Translator, a large, blocky red screen that can translate any language. Rom featured flashing LED lights with his eyes, chest, his jet pack, and Neutralizer. The toy was produced by Parker Brothers in 1979. He is now a part of the Hasbro cinematic universe with a potential film, but who is he?

Rom-47 Rom #47 with Dire Wraith art by Bill Sienkiewicz.

Rom was given a cyborg origin bonded with plandanium armor 200 years ago which can resist Wolverine’s claws! He can pull his Neutralizer from subspace and his weapon sends the Dire Wraiths to Limbo. Rom follows the Dire Wraiths to Earth and makes an ally of Brandy Clark who becomes the Spaceknight Starshine. His title ended when the rights were lost. The success of G.I.Joe and Transformers was that they quickly became cartoons, but this was not the case of Rom and Micronauts. The strangest part was that the Dire Wraiths that Rom was pursuing was not made into figures. The comic had them as bulky, red aliens with demonic faces with tongues that turn victims into dust and enable them to transform into their shape. He encountered most of the Marvel Universe including the X-Men in issue #17 (1981). This was one of my first comics and it was just unusual to be introduced to mutants and some guy named Wolverine. The comic had the X-Men sent to check on a mutant, it happened to be Jimmy Marks, a child of a Dire Wraith and human. He took his monstrous form and took on the X-Men and Rom as Hybrid. The villain strips Starshine of her armor in Rom annual #3 (1984).

Rom66.jpg Rom #66 aftermath of the Worldmerge cover by P. Craig Russell.

The invasion of the Dire Wraiths came to a head with the return of comics legend, Steve Ditko, to the draw the adventures of the space knight. All of the Dire Wraiths on Earth form a star disc which punches a black scar into the sun! They discover from a child named Cindy Adams who has the mind of a dead Dire Wraith (in Rom #60) that they are using the power of the sun to bring Wraithworld and bring it in a Worldmerge. Earth has it’s own defense with the mutant Forge introduced in Uncanny X-Men #184 (1984). Agent Gyrich used the Neutralizer prototype to drain Storm of her powers which broke Forge’s trust with the government. Forge constructs an orbital Neoneutralizer to stop the Dire Wraiths, but is afraid that Gyrich will use it to take away the powers of Earth’s heroes. All of the heroes, Avengers, X-Men, and others, band together to fight the Dire Wraiths. Rom uses his Neutralizer to power Forge’s weapon and destroy the threat to Earth. Rom takes on galactic adventures until he finally returns to Galador. He fights Dominor, leader of a new faction of Spaceknights, to ultimately regain his human form and spend his life with Brandy. After the end of the title, Rom stories had to be pulled from Marvel trade collections, and also the likeness of the robot figure. Jim Starlin and Chris Batista worked on the limited series Spaceknights that had them as sci fi version of medieval knights. The cosmic storyline, Annihilation: Conquest (which also introduced the movie version of Guardians of the Galaxy), in 2007 by the writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning with art by Tom Raney had an invasion by the Phalanx. This brings in the Spaceknights.