Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer(s): Christos Gage & Chris Ryall
Artist: David Messina
Release Date: 27th July, 2016
Let me start with a little bit of history if I may? ROM started life as a Toy before coming to life in ROM Spaceknight from Marvel Comics in 1979. ROM was far more successful as a comic book character than he was as a toy, and ROM Spaceknight ran for an impressive seventy-five issues. However, the toy manufacturer retained the rights and things became messy for Marvel, to the point where they’re currently unable to reprint any of the old ROM stories, and that includes any crossovers he appeared in. However, Marvel have built quite a mythos around the Spaceknights and Dire Wraiths without using ROM himself. And, out of sheer curiosity at how IDW would deal with all of this baggage, I quickly jumped on this new incarnation of good ol’ ROM.
First things first, this first issue contains the 11-page story that IDW brought out on Free Comic Book Day. Which is a very good start, keeping things nice and tidy. Secondly, the story looks like it will go beyond the general “good alien comes to save earth from bad alien” shtick. The writers Ryall and Gage go backward to go forwards, and appear to present us with an invasion of the body snatchers feel for the way that the Dire Wraiths go about their business.
Chris Ryall is the Chief Creative Officer and Editor-in-Chief of IDW, and it shines through here that he has brought ROM to his fiefdom in order to help build the expanded Hasbro-verse event with the Transformers, G.I. Joe, Action Man and M.A.S.K. An event which looks very shiny and exciting, but that’s a tale for another time. Here he works with Christos Gage to try and make ROM relevant to today’s youngsters (Coming soon to a cinema near you? Maybe?) and, at times, it works well.
However, it isn’t just ROM’s dialogue that feels clunky. Some of the character interactions just don’t seem to flow as well as they could, which surprises me because Christos Gage is one of my favourite writers and his work on Avengers: Academy was flawless. David Messina’s art is dynamic and appears to be easily accessible to a younger reader. It’s solid rather than spectacular, but well suited to the subject.
I wasn’t expecting a nostalgia-fest with ROM as I wasn’t a massive fan back in the day. To be honest though, ROM could end up being a great book to get, nostalgia-aside, especially when IDW have their crossover event. If you’re ROM-curious, Hasobro-curious or even just plain curious then this could be the comic for you. Otherwise it’s a presentable yet middling start.
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The writer of this piece was: John Wallace
John Tweets from @jmwdaredevil