Spaceknight Saturdays: Rom vs. The House of Mystery

Now that letters have started pouring in about Rom Spaceknight, we can gauge reader approval. Was Rom... before its time? In the nick of time? Already passé? There doesn't seem to be a consensus after the first two issues. If I'm talking about "Space Notes" at all, it's because Bill Mantlo seems to be answering his own mail instead of letting an editor do it. Way to face the music, Young Bill! What's particularly interesting is that he makes an artistic statement about his work:

"My idea of a good comic is that it entertain, that it be fun, and that it be as comprehensible to all my readers from the ages of 7 to 70. I never vary from that goal (though I'm not saying that it's always attained). So there you have my criteria for judging ROM, my work. Let me know if you agree or disagree."

Thanks Bill. I think I'll have to agree with you on principle, and about ROM in particular. Now let's dig into the story, shall we?

Picking up Rom Spaceknight #5 from where #4 left off, the fallen Archie "Firefall" Stryker is carted off by the Dire Wraiths from whose lips he learns Rom wasn't kidding about his being bonded to metal and never again having access to Lil' Archie. And they're hot on Rom's trail, using blind hellhounds and Kirby gestures!
Our heroes escape and take refuge in an old house. But is it safe?
Looks like it. Big and empty. Steve and Brandy fall asleep in each others' arms and Rom puts himself in sleep mode to clean disk, defrag and run Spybot on his systems. Rom is very conscientious that way
In the night, he is visited by a Doctor Strange special guest appearance in a vision that simply serves to tie this house with the one in Strange Tales #120 in a 1964 story you shouldn't be expected to remember as it didn't even get the cover. But in the tradition of Marvel's interconnectivity, it's baaaaa-aaaaack.
Whatever demon Doctor Strange banished in that forgotten classic has returned thanks to the Dire Wraiths' efforts to spring their brethren from limbo. You really have to be careful about which piece of hell you open doors into. Beating Poltergeist by 2 years, Mantlo gives Rom a possessed house to fight. If I may channel puntastic Julie Chen for a second: The tables are turned on Rom!
But then, Rom turns the tables on the table!
Better watch out for that fireplace too! Rom answers fire with fire (neutralizer fire), so the House starts groveling before the power of the Spaceknight! Beg! Beg! Oh, did I forget to mention?
I wonder if the House would have had more staying power if it'd had foundations. If you'd like an empty lot in rural West Virginia, call your real estate agent. I hear there's something available.
And now, another chapter in the Secret Origin of Rom Spaceknight!

I know I made reference to Rom's indulging in the Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name last week, but he also had a girlfriend. His Shala Bal is Ray-Na, the exotic dancer he's leaving for Spaceknighthood.
Hey Ray-Na, aside from his barracks buddy waiting for him on the down low, SOMEone has to diversify Galador's economy, and war is a lot more lucrative a business than giant floral arrangements. But no matter where camaraderie takes him, he shan't betray his love:
No. Never. Oh Rom, you're such a playa!


Sea-of-Green said...

Dunno if Rom was before his time or not, but I have to admit that I read Rom religiously, and loved it. I honestly couldn't tell you why, though. I have no idea. There was just something appealing about the big bucket o' bolts.

Anonymous said...

Just as a footnote:

The House of Shadows actually RETURNED one more time after this ROM story.

It was in Dr. Strange: Sorcerer Supreme Annual #2.

However, it returned as a CONDO.

No lie.

The 1990's sukked.

Anyway, Strange sent his then-apprentice RINTRAH to deal with it.

I'd make a current sub-prime mortgage, bank-loan joke here, but it's really not funny.



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