Review: Rom #1

Rom #1 cover
Cover by Frank Miller and Joe Rubinstein

Rom #1
Published and © by Marvel and Rom © Parker Brothers, December 1979

Title: “Arrival!”
Synopsis: Rom, greatest spaceknight of Galador, brings his centuries-old battle against the Dire Wraiths to Earth.

Writer (plot): Jim Shooter
Writer (script): Bill Mantlo
Artist: Sal Buscema

Review: Rarely spectacular but always solid, Rom is an underappreciated Bronze Age gem. Much of the credit goes to Bill Mantlo, the writer at the helm of this series’ entire 75-issue run, plus four annuals. Mantlo launches his own secret invasion of the Marvel Universe with this debut (and, frankly, it’s better than Marvel’s 2008 event series). Rom #1 introduces the hero, villains, backstory and first main member of the supporting cast; if only modern comics offered as much story in a single issue. Sal Buscema deserves praise, too, as the definitive Rom artist.

Grade: A-

Second opinion: “Rom: Spaceknight does not hold the same appeal at the Micronauts … which is not to say that Rom is bad, it’s just that it is your average fare and, as such, one has to ask, ‘Why bother?’ ” – Stephen McGonagle, BEM #26, December 1979 … “The book has a good ’50s science-fiction atmosphere to it.” David W. Cutler, FantaCo’s Chronicle’s Series Annual #1, 1983

Cool factor: Rom looks like a toaster.
Not-so-cool factor: Rom looks like a toaster.

Notable: First appearance of Rom. … Rom was based on an action figure that sold quite poorly. … This issue topped the TCR Top 100 Comic Books sales charts in The Comic Reader #175, December 1979. … In “Mantlo: A Life in Comics,” Mantlo said a dissatisfied Shooter retooled his initial treatment for Rom, in effect plotting this debut issue. … Frank Miller’s cover credit was confirmed by Jim Shooter on JimShooter.com … Ed Hannigan, Al Milgrom and Michael Netzer all provided earlier versions of the cover.

Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a 12p British variant of this issue.

Character quotable: “Our mission can not truly be said to be over until the last of the Dire Wraiths has been hunted to the very ends of the galaxy and cast into limbo!” – Rom, spaceknight

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on April 3, 2009.

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