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Oh, Rom...
September 19, 2009 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Rom: Spaceknight was an improbable comics success: Based on a toy series that consisted of one figure (Rom), the comics series debuted in 1979 and lasted an unlikely 75 issues, featuring art from such luminaries as P. Craig Russell and Steve Ditko (previously, previously and previously). The series was written by Marvel Comics mainstay Bill Mantlo, who retired from comics and became a public defender (the legal kind), only to suffer a tragic accident in the mid-1990s that left him in need of constant medical attention. A 2007 benefit for the writer -- Spacenight: A Tribute to Bill Mantlo -- will be followed by Spacenight 2, an auction of original Rom-related artwork that can be viewed here.
posted by kittens for breakfast (32 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
...Come to think of it, I'm not 100% sure the pieces in Spacenight 2 will be auctioned; the Spacenight art was, but there's only an exhibition and eventual book mentioned on the Spacenight 2 blog. Sooooooo...I may be wrong about that part. FYI.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:44 AM on September 19, 2009


Thanks for this, I remember loving Rom back in the day as an antidote to the major Marvel heroes, if memory serves it was actually quite nasty with the Dire Wraths being particularly ruthless, more of a horror comic than a superhero one. I still have some issues knocking around somewhere....
posted by Mintyblonde at 12:09 PM on September 19, 2009


Dire Wraiths!
posted by Artw at 12:09 PM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Loved Rom. Only comic where I tried to get the full run.
posted by josher71 at 12:12 PM on September 19, 2009


Holy crap. It's rare enough to find someone who has heard of ROM, let alone someone who has read it. That was my favorite comic of that era -- I still have the full run (even the lousy final year or two when ROM is wandering the universe) stored somewhere.

BANISHMENT TO LIMBO IS TOO GOOD FOR THE LIKES OF YOU, WRAITH SCUM!
posted by brain_drain at 12:19 PM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I recall this cover making me go 'wah???'

Here's another good 'un.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:24 PM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're a twisted, criminal mastermind-type guy, and the best names you can think of are "Mad Thinker" and "Awesome Android"? That, good sir, is why you always lost in the end. Even your wicked cohort, Puppet Master, and a more sinister name.

Wow, Awesome Andy's storyline is a weird one:
The Thinker upgrades the character to absorb additional abilities, such as musical talent and animal traits. Acquiring sentience, the Android rebels against the Thinker and seeks legal aid from law firm Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway (the firm that employs Jennifer Walters, the alter ego of heroine She-Hulk). The Android is legally emancipated from the Thinker, with a court recognizing the character as a male and its' new name, "Awesome Andy". Andy becomes a general office worker for the firm, lacking speech communicates via hand-gestures, body language, and a message board around his neck
Legally emancipated? This is thrilling to young minds? "Gee, I want to be a lawyer when I grow up, and I can take down mad geniuses by emancipating their enslaved minions!"

posted by filthy light thief at 12:46 PM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


ROM's name was originally COBOL. Hilarious but true.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:47 PM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


The toy was originally called COBOL (after the programming language), which was later changed to "Rom" (after ROM, a.k.a. Read-Only Memory) by Parker Brothers' executives.

Executive meddling does not often improve things, but a toy line named "COBOL" would undoubtedly have proven expensive as legions of angry programmers systematically destroyed the toys still on the shelves.
posted by JHarris at 12:49 PM on September 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


filthy light thief: "the Android rebels against the Thinker and seeks legal aid from law firm Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway (the firm that employs Jennifer Walters, the alter ego of heroine She-Hulk)"

I had originally read that as Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzburg, Holliway and She-Hulk. That got me thinking, man, I really hope she makes partner.
posted by JHarris at 12:54 PM on September 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


I had to look the law firm up. Wierd - why give up a perfectly good in-joke three-quarters of the way through?

(Martin Goodman was Marvel's original publisher, Stan Lee is actually Stan Lieber, Jack Kirby was Jacob Kurtzburg, but I didn't recognise Holliway. With good reason, as it appears they made up the name to complete the set. Why?)
posted by Grangousier at 1:00 PM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Loved Rom. Only comic where I tried to get the full run.
posted by josher71 at 12:12 PM on September 19 [+] [!]

I still have the full run (even the lousy final year or two when ROM is wandering the universe) stored somewhere.
posted by brain_drain at 12:19 PM on September 19 [+] [!]


Good lord, I'm not alone! I probably have about 85 to 90% of the two series, but I never thought I'd find a place where I could admit that.

And yes, it got incredibly dark at times.
posted by lekvar at 1:04 PM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey Metafilter, you're only a couple of items away from winning Dr Dracator's Childhood Memories Bingo - keep going!
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:15 PM on September 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Grangousier: I think they could have kept it up if it had been Holloway instead of Holliway - Ray Holloway was a letterer for Timely and Marvel. It may in fact have been a typo.
posted by mephron at 1:58 PM on September 19, 2009


ROM! I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it -- because I volunteered to become a cyborg and had it removed.
posted by The Tensor at 2:04 PM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I regret being to cool at the time to read these. Have they ever been collected? I would actually consider buying a ROM Omnibus.

Hell, I own a Captain Britain Omnibus, it can't be worse than that. Yes, I AM insulting Alan Moore. Fuck you.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:30 PM on September 19, 2009


I was too young to have the toy but let me telllll ya that How Cool I remember it looking and How Uncool it actually does look are a gulf apart.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:41 PM on September 19, 2009


Sadly, since Rom belongs to Hasbro, Marvel can't reprint the issues without paying Hasbro for the privilege. I'm not sure whether this means that Hasbro technically owns the Rom comics series, but even if they do, Hasbro couldn't just turn around and have a third party reprint it, because much of the series is full of Marvel's characters. Presuming Marvel has approached Hasbro about it, Hasbro must want a lot of money...being that Marvel was able to reprint its Godzilla series from the '70s, and one can only imagine Toho didn't come cheap (if I'm not mistaken, the whole reason Marvel's Godzilla was canceled to begin with was that their licensing deal with Toho had come up, and whatever Toho wanted to renew the deal was too outrageous).

If in fact the exhibition linked above is going to become a coffee table book -- a book full of nothing but various modern artists' interpretation of Rom -- I'm not sure how the gallery will handle that. Maybe, given the project's charitable nature, Hasbro decided to be cool...?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:42 PM on September 19, 2009


ROM was pretty nasty for an early 80s Marvel comic. The Dire Wraiths would leave behind a lifeless, shrunken husk with hollow eye sockets after abandoning the body of someone they were possessing. The image always freaked me a bit.
posted by autodidact at 2:52 PM on September 19, 2009


I love ROM, I remember the first of the covers stinkycheese linked to. I always associate the art of John Romita Jr. with Rom because of his depictions of the Dire Wraiths.

It's a true tragedy, what happened to Bill Mantlo. I had no idea that he's in such straits and isn't likely to recover. The fact that his health insurance has been exhausted is unconscionable and brings to mind the recent fundraising efforts by Gail Simone to help John Ostrander with his medical bills.

The only high premium this country places on artists is for medical insurance.
posted by ooga_booga at 4:01 PM on September 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Those Dire Wraiths creeped me out, man.
posted by Fleebnork at 4:05 PM on September 19, 2009


Yay, ROM! I think I remember reading this issue. There's Starshine (the first one) with her silly-looking helmet.
posted by dammitjim at 4:59 PM on September 19, 2009


Weird. We just acquired a run of this for our store and I sort of giggled at the silly ROM SPACEKNIGHT comics and then I was instantly surrounded by staff and customers, all cooing about how they loved ROM! Thanks for the post, I will pass it on to the fans!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 6:16 PM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Dire Wraiths would leave behind a lifeless, shrunken husk with hollow eye sockets after abandoning the body of someone they were possessing.

The Wraiths were shape changers. The males of the species, the Sci Wraiths, would just take the shape of their victims, but the females, the Witch Wraiths, would bore into the heads of their victims with their barbed tongues. This would allow the Wraith to extract the victim's memories, making them much harder to detect through ordinary means. Pretty gruesome for mainstream comics at that point.
posted by lekvar at 7:43 PM on September 19, 2009


Jeez, I have them all, too. What a dork. I don't even know why I have them. It's just that ROM was...cool?

...nunh-unh. Just interesting is all. He's ROM!
posted by humannaire at 8:15 PM on September 19, 2009


ROM is awesome. Me and my buddy tried writing a folk song about him. I still have the page of notes somewhere.

Would kill for a toy. Or just banish.
posted by bdave at 9:54 PM on September 19, 2009


Also, Toasterhead.
posted by bdave at 9:55 PM on September 19, 2009


I remember Rom showed up at my wedding to Marlo, I couldn't believ...

...oh, great, now you know I'm Rick Jones.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:39 PM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did Rom and Rogue ever hook up after the Hybrid incident?
posted by homunculus at 1:05 PM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


From wikipedia: "Rom became human again and finally admitted his love for Brandy. The two chose to remain on Galador, with the intent of repopulating the planet."

No-one can say he lacks ambition.

Was there a Rom story where he visits a planet where the inhabitants all subscribe to some kind of religion/philosophy wherein they have to reach the top of some staircase by doing good deeds, making sacrifices, etc? And if it wasn't Rom, what comic was it? And if it wasn't a comic can someone call an ambulance for me please?
posted by biffa at 2:28 PM on September 20, 2009


I got a caricature done at Opryland in 1990 of myself and Rom fighting wraiths together. It's around here somewhere...
posted by josher71 at 3:47 PM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


ROM turns 30, Cobol turns 50.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:25 AM on September 21, 2009


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