My First Rom Spaceknight

To celebrate the end of RomQuest(TM) and my completing my Rom collection, he's the very first review of a Rom comic I ever wrote, on a website a couple years back. And yes, there will be more to come as I experience the glory that is Rom firsthand in the weeks to come. So then...

ROM #49, Marvel Comics, December 1983
I didn't regularly buy Rom Spaceknight. In fact, I think I have, like, 3 issues total. It just scared the crap out of me too much. The only creepier comic book in the early 80s was Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, which I also couldn't read. I was obviously born too late. And too weak.

Rom was based, believe it or not, on a toy. I've never seen more than one picture of the Rom action doll, and here it is:
It didn't make it big, obviously, which left the comic to become anything it wanted to be: Half-Silver Surfer, half-Invasion of the Body Snatchers. That last influence is probably why it disturbed me so much. The ending of 70s version with Donald Sutherland freaks me out to this day. And the body snatchers in Rom, truly monstrous aliens called the Dire Wraiths, add a measure of body horror to the proceedings. These guys are truly ugly:
That right there is more chilling than Francis Ford Crapola's Dracula. These guys aren't just butt-ugly shape-changing aliens, they're sorcerers too! It's like they didn't feel they were evil enough that they had to add the black arts to their resumes.

As for Rom, he's a self-pitying, self-loathing stiff, totally in the Silver Surfer vein, except he's cooler on two counts: 1) No silly prop, and 2) he's got the cool eyes. I love how Sal Buscema draws them:
That's his girlfriend and fellow starknight, Starshine, in the background there. She and Rom are hot for each other, but they can't really do anything about it trapped in those armors. Cue more self-pity/loathing. But for her, he's come back to Earth to save it from Wraithkind.

The Dire Wraiths are setting a trap for Rom, a plan involving the murder and replacement of half the small town of Clairton, Virginia, including Starshine's parents and friends. This comic takes no prisoners. The middle part of the comic has a bit too much soap opera, with Starshine trying to force Rom out of his shell, but she'll be hit by despair as well when she finds out her parents have been killed. "And I've become too inhuman to even cry!" she says. Again with the Silver Surfer-level angst.

It ends with the heroes being magically cast into another dimension (see the cover), and I can't quite believe that didn't make me buy Rom #50. For now, I'll have to blame it on my young mind being unable to process this level of horror in my superhero comics. Only one possible rating:


googum said...

If you thought that was bad, hoo-hoo, wait until #50...


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