Good news, children of the eighties! There has been a ROM sighting, sorta.

We’ve talked before at great, nostalgic length about ROM, which legend has it is the most radioactive comic book ever printed without the word “Marvelman” on the cover. ROM was a licensed Marvel comic that started in the late seventies about a toy Spaceknight from Parker Brothers. Because the entire toy line consisted of one guy named ROM, writer Bill Mantlo had to make up all his foes and fill up his supporting cast with the rest of the Marvel universe. Nearly every other issue of the book features an A-list Marvel guest star, but Marvel no longer has the rights to ROM himself, making him He Who Shall Not Be Reprinted and giving the book this mystique (and, occasionally, this Mystique).

Partly because no one has seen it in the 25 years since it ended, and partly because it was pretty completely daffyballs, many comic book lovers like myself have a secret love of ROM, some of us even capitalizing his name all the time even when there is no real reason to do that. Writers are perpetually looking for ways to get around the legalities and work ROM or Romness into their books. One book currently on the stands has succeeded beyond my ROM fans’ wildest dreams, and you may have missed it.

Back in the day, ROM’s mission was to wipe out a race of witchcraft-practicing shape shifters called the Dire Wraiths. The Wraiths had taken human form and infiltrated Earth’s positions of power, conducting a kind of “secret invasion,” if you will. ROM’s Wraith-banishing world tour eventually took him to the USSR, where he discovered that the Soviets hated us because they were ruled by aliens. This was never mentioned again. Anyway!, while he was walking around blasting human-looking Russian officials, ROM somehow ran afoul of the Soviet Super Soldiers. They had the Marvel Superhero Misunderstanding before realizing they were on the same side and uniting against a common foe; they raided the Wraith base together, which naturally was filled with the reanimated corpses of extinct prehistoric animals for them to punch.

You really do need to read ROM.

When all the mastodon punching was over, the Soviet Super Soldiers took over the Wraith base as their own and vowed to fight the evil aliens running their nation. I lost track of them after that… until this week, when someone clued me into David Matthew Gallaher’s Darkstar & the Winter Guard, a miniseries on stands now. Thanks to Gallaher, Russia’s newest super team is apparently still working out of that Wraith base, and using Wraith technology, and saying the words “Dire Wraith” every couple of pages.

Oh, and it turns out someone on the team is a Wraith, setting the stage for an imminent Wraith re-invasion. By the way.

Between the surprisingly faithful nod to the continuity of ROM #46 decades after everyone forgot it existed and the non-cameo, no-kidding use of the Dire Wraiths, this is as close as a ROM fan’s going to get to having the book back until I raise enough money on RocketHub to buy those rights back from Kenner.

Oh, and it’s a pretty good book, also. You might want to check it out.


  1. More ROM?  How on Earth did I miss this growing up? It’s right up my alley.

  2. ROM!!!!

  3. Please, Marvel. Bring back ROM! 

  4. ROM is great fun. I’d wish they’d bring him back.

  5. I loved that stupid gun

  6. In another Marvel-copyright-related issue, the Micronauts starred in the recently-completed Son of Hulk mini series.

  7. O gawd the memories..I loved ROM.

  8. ROM Essentials NOW!!!!……please?

    @ultimatehoratio  Micronauts?was Acroyear in that mini with his kickass helmet? What’s next a Shogun Warriors min?(hint,hint Joe Q)

  9. @Jesse112…No Acroyear.  Acroyear and the Micronauts name are owned by Hasbro.  Commander Rann and Marionette are in the series and they changed the name of the group to the Enigma Force.  There’s an Enigma Force mini coming out in September I think that ties into Hulk and the Marvel cosmic books.

    @Jimski.  Did you catch Rom’s appearance at Rick Jones’s wedding (Hulk 416) and Jim Starlin’s Spaceknights mini-series?

  10. I remember the Hulk one well, but I thought he was MIA from that Spaceknights series. He’s also in one of the Earth X books that came out years ago, but they never refer to him by name. Everybody do the lawyer dance!

  11. Please please please – bring back the Spaceknights!  Maybe ROM in Gaurdians of the Galaxy.

  12. If i remember correctly the spaceknights were in annihilation: Conquest at the start. They help bring down the kree empire by introducing the transmode virus into the automated defence systems… Oh god, kill me now.

  13. I wonder if they could get around it by changing the name to "Romulus" and tweaking the armor.  All they need to keep are the eyes.  My God, those eyes!  *swoon*

  14. if we reflect back… Marvel has had and "lost" a host of licences from my youth Micronauts, Rom, Conan ( at least Dark Horse reprints these), Shogun Warriors, GiJoe, Transformers and Godzilla. Although the latter does have an essential treatment, i susupect it was a one time like the conan was, and is now outta print. Alot of it was great, but also alot was not memory paints these titles perhaps better than they deserve. But man-o-man i do miss the ‘nauts and the spacenights 

  15. @johnnyNormal…..when Marvel was printing Star Wars comics in the late 70’s did they hold the licensce? Did George Lucas buy it back for a mere pittance and sell to Dark Horse for a trailer of cash? just wondering.

  16. Rom had some sweet ink art by Ian Aiken and Brian Garvey back in the day. Whatever happened to those guys?

  17. ROM 32 was the first comic I ever purchased and it blew me away. Agreed, Essential ROM now, please!

  18. @jesse1125…i suspect he paid nothing to get it back and then screwed DH hard, even though they were most likely the only interested party and were truly passionate for the property. I have a feeling that Lucas is that sorta dick. The amazing legacy that DH has carved out in the Star Wars universe would never have happened at Marvel ergo the absence from lost licences..

  19. I don’t get it. So is ROM in the book or just the Dire Wraiths? The Dire Wraiths have been in many, many books outside of ROM.