TITLE: Rom Spaceknight vol. 1, Issue #36
YEAR: November 1982
COMPANY: Marvel Comics
Written by Bill Mantlo
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Inker: Akine E. Garvey
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Colors: Ben Sean
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Back in the 70s, Scott Dankman, Richard C. Levy and Bryan L. McCoy created “Rom”. A toy originally named COBOL, after the programming language, but when the toy was sold to Parker Brothers, executives changed the name to Rom after ROM (read-only memory).
Parker Brothers, best known for their puzzles, board games and creating the first Nerf ball. While the company was purchased by General Mills back in 1968, the company would go on to try the toy and video game market.
Responsible for the early “Star Wars” video games and home ports of Sega’s “Frogger” and Gottlieb’s “Q*Bert” in the ’80s, a few years earlier, the company would enter the toy market with the electronic action figure, Rom the Spaceknight and a collaboration with Marvel Comics written by Bill Mantlo and pencils by Sal Buscema turned out to be even more popular than the toy itself (which was a failure).
The comic book series would last from December 1979 through February 1986 and he was integrated into the Marvel universe quite well. But IDW Publish would license the character in 2016 and creating an ongoing series that began in 2016.
In the Marvel Comics series, Rom is a cyborg from the planet Galador. Rom’s duty is to protect Earth and other planets from the Dire Wraith alien race
With this issue #36, it’s probably the issue that I remember the most. It’s probably when the series got a little darker as Rom who tried to catch Dire Wraiths via his Transporter weapon to transport them to Limbo but when the monsters go after a boy who was being sacrificed to the Dire Wraiths, to try and save him, Rom had to resort to killing the Dire Wraiths.
Rom, who has followed the pathway of not killing anything, unfortunately is led to killing the Dire Wraiths, thus setting a new path for the spaceknight.
In this issue, after helping Namor rid of Dire Wraiths in Atlantis, he stays in the ocean to understand whales and learn how they are endangered to humans capturing/killing them, meanwhile the Dire Wraiths are doing the same to humans.
While flying, he sees a young boy tied like a scarecrow. The boy tells him that his village of Gwillyn Dale received visitors (Dire Wraiths) who snatched children from their beds. While the humans fought back, a Dire Wraith witch came and said that the humans in the village must offer their young as sacrifice at each full moon.
While the villagers didn’t want to, they had no choice or else they would be all killed. So, this boy named Stephen was being sacrificed. He said a prayer to Saint Stephen to send a protector to save them all from evil and wonders if Rom is his protector. But immediately the witch and Dire Wraiths show up and because it’s a full moon, that means that the Dire Wraiths’ black magic are at its peak, making them even more dangerous and hard to kill.
And when Dire Wraiths snatch Stephen to bring to a portal, Rom tries to save him but they blast away his gun and as a horde goes to kill Rom, he has no choice but to use brutal force.
Meanwhile, Brandy Clark visits the grave of Starshine. Admitting her love for Rom, but knows he won’t love her because she is human and for Starshine, she knew that she loved him as well but died. Immediately, Starshine’s ghost apparition appears…and its to give Brandy a gift. But what kind of gift?
While I haven’t read the entire “Rom Spaceknight” series, I do know that what I read of the character in the 80s, entertained me for many months as a child. I felt the writing by Bill Mantlo and art by Sal Buscema were top notch and for the most part, it’s a comic book series worth checking out!