Hey everybody, it’s time for another great character spotlight, right here in Marvel Snapshot! It occurred to me that I’ve never done justice to the awesome, incredible space-knight from Galador, ROM! This character was nothing but a toy on shelves back in the late 1970s, and the brilliant mind of Bill Mantlo turned it into a living, breathing, hero for the ages!
If you’ve never read ROM before, then do yourself a favor. Get to the cheap bins and grab a few issues. I bought a ton at a store in NJ a while back at fifty cents a pop, and really added to my ROM collection. I think I’m about seventy-five percent complete right now, maybe closer. The artist for quite some time was the criminally underrated Sal Buscema, and a later run with Steve Ditko pencils and P. Craig Russell inks (and a few covers, too!), and covers by Bill Sienkiewicz, was also phenomenal. ROM first appeared in ROM #1 (1979), and was created by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema.
The origin of ROM is a simple one. His planet was under fire from the invading Dire Wraiths, and he, along with one thousand other Galadorians, volunteered to undergo a bonding process that transformed them into cyborgs capable of flight, super-strength, and most importantly, the main weapon, the Neutralizer (also the Analyzer, which could identify Wraiths, because they can shape shift). They fought off the Wraiths, and drove them back to their planet, Wraithworld. The Wraiths concocted a plan to trick the Spaceknights into letting them escape, and then ROM swore that he wouldn’t rest until the last of them were destroyed.
Fast forward a couple of centuries to “Arrival,” which is the day ROM came to Earth, to seek out Wraiths, and either banish them or destroy them! He was befriended by a woman named Brandy Clark, who witnessed ROM banishing some Wraiths to Limbo. Of course, people just saw a giant robot blasting what looked like humans into ash, so they ran in fear of ROM, and even the military was brought in and tried to kill him, mistaking him for an invading “spaceman.”
ROM had a brief encounter with the X-Men, and this encounter led to some crazy consequences for that team. In the short crossover, the mutant Forge was able to analyze ROM’s technology, and in doing so, he constructed his own version of the Neutralizer. It backfired, though, when Storm (his lover at the time) was hit with a blast from the weapon, and it took away her mutant powers (temporarily, of course). ROM also had run-ins with Nova, the Fantastic Four, Power Man and Iron Fist, the Avengers, you name the team/hero, ROM has probably met them!
The rights to this character reverted back to Parker Bros., but Marvel can still use the characters and places that Bill Mantlo created, just not ROM specifically. Don’t look for that to change any time time soon, so don’t look for a trade any time soon. As I said earlier though, you can get most of the back issues on the cheap, so don’t delay! As usual, check out my recommended reading list along with some of ROM’s best covers! See you next time!
ROM #1-75 (1979)
ROM Annual #1-4 (1982)
Incredible Hulk #296, 319, 418 (1968)
Marvel Two-in-One #99 (1974)