Welcome back Satellite subscribers, today we have set our coordinates to a planet far beyond our known universe called Galador. This planet is special as it protected by an awesome force known as the Space Knights Like every planet of course it has its problems, for Galadorian’s the biggest problem are an energy based alien race known as the Dire Wraiths. Galadors Knights lead by the Greatest Space Knight of them all, ROM were not only able to handily defeat their enemy and protect their home world but vowed to hunt any remaining Dire Wraiths across the galaxy until the very last one had been destroyed. Strap in tight Heroes as we span the galaxy for Dire Wraiths and explore the world and genesis of ROM: Space Knight!
Transmission Date: 04/04/2013
ROM was a comic series based on an Action Figure created by high profile Board Game developers Parker Brothers. In 1979 the gaming company decided to test the waters outside of the normal series of games and jump into the Action Figure market which had exploded in the late 70s with franchises like Star Wars had conquered. Robots and space adventure toys were big at the time and co-creators Scott Dankman, Richard C. Levy, and Bryan L. McCoy developed a Robot of their Very own. The result was COBOL (Named after the computer programming language) a 13 inch “Gun Silver” robot loaded with every possible accessory a kid could want in a space toy. The name COBOL would be replaced with the more mainstream friendly ROM (Which still maintained the computer reference they wanted) ROM featured a Translator which allowed the robot to be able to decipher any language on any planet! An Energy Analyzer would also come in handy while tracking down those energy based aliens the Dire Wraiths. With one scan of the analyzer COBOL could uncover any Dire Wraith hiding in human form and draw them out of hiding to be finally destroyed with COBOLs ultimate accessory. The weapon of choice would be The Neutralizer. Fast and efficient this weapon could reduce any bad guy to rubble in no time.
ROM was NOT a run away hit as the toy itself failed to find a strong audience. Part of the problem was the Toy itself. Big and awkward, ROM as an action figure was a stand alone toy and did not have any other counter parts or bad guys you could buy to play with ROM. He was also poorly articulated with range limited to his hips, knee joints and arms moved only at the shoulders. The accessories, sounds and lights however were the strong selling point of the toy. Watch the detailed review below which details all the selling points and downfalls of this unique toy.
Parker Brothers realizing that their toy needed to reach the proper demographic approached Marvel Comics Group to commission a Comic Book series detailing the adventures of their newest creation. Marvel Comics were at the time riding high on the success of their acquisition of the rights to publish the Star Wars Comic Book took the task of creating a world and set of supporting characters for ROM. Provided with a bare boned skeleton of an origin writer Bill Mantlo and artist Sal Buscema mapped out a fantastic origin for the character. Major changes were introduced by Marvel from the original concept created by Parker Brothers. ROM was no longer a Robot he was a human like being who choose to defend his planet by volunteering to be bonded with this Galadorian armor and spend his life protecting his home world by hunting their enemies across the universe until his people are safe from the threat of an invasion. The concepts of the home world of Galador and the Dire Wraith enemies were maintained in the Marvel interpretation of the origin. Published with a cover date of Dec. 1979 ROM #1 would arrive in style on spinner racks across America.
The comic book series would long outlive the toy. Sadly the toy reportedly sold a mere 200,000 to 300,000 units far below the expectations of Parker Brothers and they discontinued the toy line of ROM figures. The Comic Book however would last many years and finally end its run at a very respectable 75 issues ending its run in Feb. of 1986.
ROM was one of those comics that began as a “Toy book” and grew beyond that label into a respected title and became entrenched into the Marvel Universe. For all intents and purpose ROM was a Marvel Superhero. Marvel would be sure to put ROM smack dab in the middle of the Marvel Universe and he would often interact with the Marvel Heroes. ROM fought side by side with the X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Power Man and Iron Fist, and even locked horns with Galactus!
From my own perspective ROM was a fun book. As a comic fan I would get the scattered issue of ROM when perusing the spinner racks of my local drug store. I did not collect the book monthly though. I remember fondly getting ROM #1 in a Comic Book Collectors Set from Sears one year in the late 1980s . The set in the catalogue boasted that it came with I believe, 25 rare comic books which included valuable #1s. The majority of the titles were worthless even as reading material, however upon opening the box I did get Savage She-Hulk #1 and ROM #1. The cover of ROM was powerful and artist Sal Buscema was a master at making this simple Toy Robot look epic in every panel. The opening page of ROM #1 alone set the tone of the book as ROM lands on Earth like a Phoenix rising from the fire and the title banner “Arrival” let the reader know that this book was serious.
Some of my favorite ROM Stories were issues #1 and 2 which heralded the Arrival of Rom and introduced not only ROM but his life Long supporting character Brandy Clarke. ROMs initial interaction with humans is humorous in that humans fear the metal warrior as they see him disintegrate a series of humans with his Neutralizer. Not understanding that evil Dire Wraiths had disguised themselves as human earthlings were shivering in their boots as ROM terminated these supposed humans at point blank on the streets of their town.
Other issues of note were issues #17 and #18 which brings ROM together with the X-Men as both hunt down a Dire Wraith known as Hybrid. The alien is able to combat ROM and The X-Men by manipulating the weather and creating confusion between the heroes. A little tussle between ROM and Colossus adds to the fun of this issue.
ROMS constant longing to shed the armor and return to his home world of Galador in peace is always central to the character and is another favorite collection of issues. Issues #68 (Trapped Between Man and Machine!) #43 (Freed Of The Armor) #48 (Fight No More) and #75 (Final Issue) all deal with ROMs want to finally return to normal and return to life as it was.
Shortly after the release of ROMs final issue ROM would never appear regularly again and the last appearance of ROM (In Galadorian human form) would be at the wedding of Hulks best friend Rick Jones as he wished the bride and Groom best wishes. Marvel would soon lose the rights to use the ROM character after the cancellation of the series and thus would no longer be allowed to be referenced under the name ROM. The character itself would be written out of the Marvel Universe in a Mini Series called Space Knights in which ROM (No longer referenced by that name) is attacked while piloting a space craft was attacked by a Knight Wraith and was apparently destroyed and presumed dead.
Fans have since clamored for the return of the Space Knight and have been agonizingly been teased with Easter Eggs on TV shows such as ROBOT CHICKEN and South Park (Rom is seen in a 3 Part episode titled Imagine Land)
as well as Marvels own Silver Surfer Animated series. In The Season 1 Episode 5 titled Learning Curve ROM can be seen strolling leisurely in the background at the 4:55 mark!.
So ROM looked to be retired to our memories, back issues and fan blogs. Would we ever see our favorite SpaceKnight in action again? Well..maybe! Marvel Comics may have given us a red herring when creating a new mini series in 2013 called the Age Of Ultron. In some of the teaser images Marvel showed a giant board with pictures of hundreds of Marvel characters that may have been victims Ultron. Among these..a picture of ROM..his first real appearance as “ROM” in a Marvel comics in a long number of years! Could it be? Was ROM back!
Buzz made the rounds in social media that ROM was coming back in this mini series when suddenly for reasons unbeknownst to this writer Marvel swiftly changed the name ROM showcased of the panel to IKON, a lesser know SpaceKnight in the Marvel Universe and conspiracy theories ran wild.
Did Marvel try to slide a fast one past rights owners and throw a Easter Egg at fans hoping no one would notice? Clearly they noticed and fans were ready for ROM to return. No one at this point could confirm the reason for the switch but one thing was for sure it lead a rekindled hope that we may someday soon see the real ROM return to the hallowed pages of Marvel Comics! This guy hopes so!
So to any Dire Wraiths out there..dont get too comfortable because soon..very soon..our Gun Silver hero will one day make his return..then shit is on!
Our time on Galador is complete Heroes, prepare for departure, Satellite take us home!
Ahhh hell as a special treat for Satellite Subscribers..heres the ROM bio. Enjoy..
For more of my thoughts on ROM and some different ROM material check out my original ROM post at my favorite Retro website, http://www.retroist.com. My article can be found here http://www.retroist.com/2013/04/09/rom-the-strange-journey-of-a-space-knight/ enjoy!
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