First, the big news. The era of the female Dire Wraiths is upon us. According Marvel Age #4 (see the bottom of this post), editor Ralph Macchio was tired of the Pillsbury doughboy model that repeatedly got thrown into Limbo issue after issue. It's a fair cop. He asked Marvel Visionary Walt Simonson to design a new Dire Wraith race (try to say that three times fast) that would be unhappy with the tech-based Wraiths and take over the invasion of Earth. It's the design Bill Sienkiewicz used on the cover.
The Sal Buscema/Akin & Garvey rendition, however, is a little different... and a piece of genius.
It's not so much that the hands are different, it's the mouth. Simonson's design doesn't have the drill-tongue that gave me nightmares as a teen reader:
This isn't your father's Dire Wraiths! My first issue of Rom Spaceknight was #49, so I never knew those other Wraiths until I bought the entire series in one go almost a year ago. I've been waiting all that time for the book to become truly terrifying. Gone are the days of your loved ones being replaced but kept alive in a cave under Clairton or whatever. No, instead you can look forward to them being sucked dry of their memories and shapes, left as gross husks right out of the Donald Sutherland version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
And no one's safe.
Hope you enjoyed that teaser, because we now have to rejoin Rom and Starshine somewhere over the Pacific. You'd think would be happy now that Brandy's joined him, but no. His is superhuman angst.
As he flies off to ponder his unnatural, inhuman, grotesque (too far?) armor love, he apparently doesn't notice that ridiculous-looking island in his way.
Ok, here's where it gets bizarre. The Spaceknights are being watched through a kaleidoscope...
And the watcher is Brynocki, the cartoony android servant of the now very dead "Great Mordillo". Who? These guys:
And still you ask: Who?! I don't blame you. They apparently came out of Doug Moench hitting the opium pipe over at Master of Kung Fu. The Great Mordillo and his cartoony island fought the Hands of Shang-Chi in #35, where he got fried, and Brynocki's version of Weekend at Bernie's Part I was published in #119. That Moench would bring back the characters is f***ed-up. That Mantlo decides to do Bernie's Part II, is GENIUS.
Mad genius, but there you go. Rom's not having any of it though, and finds the whole exercise humiliating at best.
Brynocki, who changes outfits almost every panel he's in, leaves Mordillo to silent meditation...
...to give the Spaceknights more of a challenge that the toy soldiers.
If bad puns constitute "more of a challenge". Wait it gets even more f***ed-up.
Rom gets some answers from the little android: Since Shang-Chi killed his master, he doesn't trust any trespassers, so he naturally attacked. Rom and Starshine make it plain that, frankly darling, they don't give a damn. Brynocki goes back looking for the Great Mordillo, but...
NO WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S 3!!!
BONUS WALT SIMONSON SKETCH
Hard to believe I like them more with a hot pink color scheme, but there you go. Simonson also redesigned Starshine's armor, but you'll have to wait for that one.
Next week: Going back in time to prove the new Wraiths were around since the beginning, with Rom Annual #2!