Barreling through the series, I totally forgot there was an Annual coming up, so really, you should go back in time to last week and imagine this post was there, and that post is here. Maybe the next leap... will be the leap home!
So sandwiched between Rom #32 and 33 is "It Came from Beyond the Stars" by Mantlo and Broderick, the based-on-true-events story of Stardust, a villainous cannibal creature with a love of David Bowie unparalleled and a hunger for Wraiths not unlike Rom's. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Check out the really cool origin story of this amorphous glob of energy (click to resize is not legible).
Convicted of "unmutual acts", this individualist heads to Earth to become an alien threat (yeah, like THAT'S never been done before, real original, Dusty!) First order of business, grabbing himself a body! He nabs a junior league baseball team and goes to town:
Don't worry moms, it's just a painful analysis. The kids are left lying there in a coma, there essences inside Stardust's energy matrix. Full on humanity, he goes looking for other game. Is that Wraith meat he smells?
Meanwhile, Rom comes upon the children and is himself come upon by the search party and mistaken for the villain. It doesn't help that there are Dire Wraiths in the crowd, egging everyone on.
Look! Just like in the Bible! But why can't Rom detect these Wraiths?
The answer lies in the factory Stardust attacks. There, Wraiths are developing cloaking technology that will make the impervious to Rom's analyzer. Stardust doesn't care, he just wants to eat himself some shape-shifters. The Wraiths attack, taking on their battle forms.
Well, actually, one of them takes on its rat form. I guess it knew it was going to be the last survivor and escape.
Still meanwhile, Rom gets shot by a Wraith weapon, jacks up his analyzer's power to 11, limbo-tizes the Wraiths, bitch slaps an angry sheriff and flies away... only to meet the Wraith rat on the run.
Well, that's that. Except for the factory. Gotta destroy the factory. But of course, Stardust still lingers there, and maybe he wants to try a Spaceknight for dessert. He first sends some kind of crap tentacle creature to tenderize the meat.
That is disgusting. Next comes Stardust's vivisection-analysis from the cover and Rom's melodramatic - but that's why I love him - reaction:
So Rom's never had himself checked for prostate cancer, eh? Then, a mistake. Rom uses his neutralizer on Stardust, which shatters the bands surrounding him and makes him even more powerful. With seconds to spare, Rom grabs the star-belt and puts it around himself, somehow inheriting much of Stardust's power. Rom is Rom, and now Rom is Master of the Belt!
That was Stardust imploding and getting absorbed in Rom's circuits, by the way. The eater has been eaten. Rom heads for a church where the comatose kids have been brought. He aims to restore there essences.
Rom as Christ figure... complete.
He then makes nice with the sheriff, throws the remaining Stardust energy into space and zaps the remaining Wraiths in the area before they can share their cloaking technology. All in a day's work.
But wait! There's a bonus Saga of the Starknights story here! It's all about the time Rom was betrayed by the unfortunately named Spaceknight Gloriole (I kid you not).
Gloriole isn't a bad chap, he's just lost sight of his values. He's trying to infiltrate the Wraiths and must prove his allegiance by sacrificing Rom. But the Wraiths are smarter than that. They want to dissect and study the armor, giving them a major advantage. So Gloriole frees Rom to fight the Wraiths, and Gloriole pays for his mistake with his life. There's comfort in one thing though...
...Spaceknights have the coolest graves.