Welcome back to another week of comic book greatness, right here in Ye Olde School Café! In this week’s installment, we’ll be taking a look at a book that I personally just acquired, and one that I’d been hearing great things about for a long time. It’s Rom The Spaceknight! Yes, from the mind of Bill Mantlo (writer), with art by Sal Buscema (and Bob Sharen, colors), comes the greatest of all the Spaceknights, with his fantastic weapons, jet packs, and shiny silver armor!
In 1979, Parker Brothers bought the rights to a toy, and although it didn’t create mass hysteria (actually it was a flop), the comic that followed sure had a great run, lasting seventy-five issues! Alright, let’s dispense with the chatter, and get to this great first issue!
Up in the night sky, something flashes across the clouds. At first look, it seems like it’s a meteor, but when it crashes, Earth finds out that it certainly isn’t. A giant robot emerges from the wreckage, and steps out in front of a motorist, nearly causing an accident. The robot tosses the car over like a child’s toy, and a woman falls out. It then raises its hand, and a device that resembles some sort of weapon appears. The woman trembles in fear as it fires the device. She’s stunned that it doesn’t harm her, and the robot leaves as if it hasn’t found what it was looking for (U2 reference).
Jet packs fire up, and the visitor makes its way to another section of town. As it lands, people are obviously frightened, but there seems to be a certain group more than the others. It again uses this device, and we now know it’s called the “Analyzer.” It’s used to sniff out a race of beings called “Dire Wraiths,” who can assume the guise of humans. The Analyzer then shows Rom that the “humans” in question are what he’s looking for. They beg for their lives, but after changing devices, and now using the “Neutralizer,” he sends them to the afterlife.
As people are running in panic, the mayor attempts to call for help, but he’s only laughed at for his raving about a giant robot. Meanwhile, we see a switchboard operator and the sheriff, and they seem to be in collusion about something yet to be told. Rom then kidnaps a girl, and takes her to a remote part of the forest. Using a device called the “Translator,” he tells the woman that the beings he killed were not humans, but an insidious race called The Dire Wraiths, and it is his duty to destroy them!
The book then goes on to tell the history of the world of Galador and their nemesis, the Dire Wraiths. It tells of a peaceful time that ends with war, and that one thousand of the bravest men volunteered to become Spaceknights, and defend the universe against the atrocities of the Wraiths, wherever they go.
Back in the current scene, Rom is continuing to tell the girl about his mission and the Wraiths. The next thing you know, the military is using all of its local muscle to try and stop Rom, who they believe is a villain. There is an actual soldier who is secretly a Wraith, so Rom busts out his Neutralizer, and turns him into ash! Back in town, those same conspirators from earlier are plotting their revenge against the Spaceknight, and only time will tell if they succeed!
Well, that’s it for issue number one. Not bad, eh? This is a fantastic book that I’ll personally be grabbing all the back issues I can for, because Mantlo and Buscema did a great job in capturing the cosmic vibes of that time period! Do yourself a favor and do a quick Google search for Mantlo, and see if there are still any charity auctions for his work. He’s had a really trying life, and could use the help. See you next time!