|ROM No. 1, July 2016|
Apparently an “IDW Publishing” comic book title which was in the making since Chris Ryall first joined the publisher and partnered with Hasbro on “Transformers” in 2005, this “extra-length official debut” of “Rom” arguably manifests “one of the key comments” posted online when the return of the Spaceknight was first announced, by failing to “live up to fans’ expectations.” Indeed with the exception of the titular character’s appearance proving reasonably similar to his “Marvel Comics Group” incarnation, and the Long Beach-born author’s evident insistence on calling the extra-terrestrial infiltrators Dire Wraiths, there would seem to be very little in common between this disappointing nonsense and the highly successful seventy-five issue run of the early Eighties. It's certainly disconcerting (though perhaps understandable) that the Lord of the Solstar Order inhabits a “universe that also includes the Transformers, G.I. Joe, the Micronauts, and… M.A.S.K.” as opposed to Marvel continuity.
Admittedly it would have been a huge mistake for the Eisner Award-nominee to have simply directly copied the narrative from that of Bill Manto’s stories, and undoubtedly certain elements of those classic tales are nowadays subject to complicated legal taboo. Yet the decision to have the cyborg from Galador’s foes already be so ingrained into human society that both the “seemingly idyllic town” of Cooper’s Mill, as well as Vandenberg Air Force Base, have already been “overrun by Dire Wraiths” makes it seem that a lot of the potential suspense generated by readers having to guess just which person is an evolutionary offshoot of the Skrulls has instantly been lost. This isn’t a world upon which the aliens are trying to gain a foothold through planetary subjugation. It is a planet where the “Wraith-rot [already] pervades the very landscape” and the shape-shifters can already affect flora and fauna, as well as surprisingly de-activate Rom’s neutralizer with their magicks; “Too many for you to slay, Space Knight. We are prepared for you. And for what follows.”
To the credit of the Editor-In-Chief however, this thirty-five page periodical does additionally contain the short story “offered up in this past May’s Free Comic Book Day”. This generous gesture to “many international fans” who found Issue Zero “impossible to come by” is doubly welcome as “Earthfall: Prelude” is really “where our ongoing tale begins” and without the magazine repeating that material it is doubtful many purchasers would actually have understood “the full story.”
Sadly, David Messina’s pencils and colours arguably prove just as disenchanting as the comic’s unsatisfactory script. There’s no doubting the new streamlined Spaceknight looks suitably sleek and sophisticated. But the Italian’s somewhat fiddly-looking panels, especially those depicting events such as the manifestation of Rom’s neutralizer, prove somewhat hard to discern, even when long-time fans of the “Parker Brothers” toy know precisely what the cyborg is meant to be doing.
|The variant cover art of "ROM" No. 1 by Sal Buscema and Mike Cavallaro|