Every so often, I like to post some ramblings and musing about my favorite comics that you should be reading. There are so many comics out there that some folks won't give a second thought to because it's not from a movie or X-Men or Batman...whatever the case may be.
But....ol' Dann the dilapidated is here to help!
The next piece of comicbook excellence comes from 1979 and the incredible minds of writer Bill Mantlo and artist supreme, Sal Buscema. It's one of my favorite comics ever and it's the most requested character for me to draw. I give unto you my friends....ROM the Spaceknight!!
I can't say enough about this comic. Based on a rather lame toy at the time, ROM ran for a mindboggling 75 issues. No one thought the comic would last that long, but thanks to Mr. Mantlo's excellent storytelling, the book just kept drawing in more and more readers.
The story of ROM goes like this: There was an evil, nastybad race of aliens called the Dire Wraiths, and they were wanting to subjugate the entire star system...'cause that's what bad guys do.... and the only guys standing in their way was this decent, advanced race from the planet of Galador. Knowing that the Dire Wraiths were pretty rotten, the Galadorians took their best and strongest (after they volunteered) and turned them into cyborg warriors called the Spaceknights. Each one had a different power and stood only for what was right and for justice. Kinda like the knights of the Round table in a sci-fi sorta way. After being totally beaten by the Spaceknights, the Dire wraiths spread out across the cosmos to hide, recoup and start over conquering the system. There were two sets of Wraiths. The males were scientifically advanced while the females were sorcerous and magical...and both sets could change their shape into another person. which makes them being undercover, infiltrating other planets, pretty scary in their own right. After the war, all the spaceknights split up to search and banish all the remaining Wraiths to limbo. Which is where Issue #1 comes in. We see Rom landing on good old Terra Firma in a small town called Clairton in West Virginia. He eventually runs into a few of the Wraiths under the guise of the townsfolk. They look like your normal everyday humans. and, unfortunately, only ROM's analyzer let's him know that the disguised humans are really the bad guys. To every one else, Rom is blasting friendly towns people and randomly killing them...when all he is actually doing is banishing them to Limbo. There lies the confusion and the meat of the plot. Rom is trying to save us from the Dire wraiths, but everyone else thinks he's just a murdering robot.
I can't go into every story line here, but the basic idea is that Rom is trying to save our planet from the Dire Wraiths taking over. Over the course of the comic, he meets a lot of regular Marvel Universe characters. He was definitely a part of the regular continuity!
The comic had appearances by: Doctor Strange, Jack of Hearts, Powerman and Iron Fist, the Fantastic Four, Alpha Flight, the X-Men, Ant-Man, the Torpedo, Nova and even Galactus! There were more, but with stars like those, you know there was a great load of fun in the stories!
Not only did the comic have Marvelous guests, the list of Artists that did the covers was just as impressive. Guys like Frank Miller, Al Milgrom, Mike Zeck, John Byrne, Ed Hannigan, Bob Layton, Bill Seinkevich, Michael Golden, P. Craig Russel and Steve Ditko all graced the covers at one time or another.
For the interior art, we were blessed with the masterful renderings of our pal Sal Buscema for the majority of the series. Sal's work was spectacular on this book and it's one of the reasons I've been so influenced by him as an artist. The man is more talented than 20 artists at a time. He started inking his own work, but eventually, the inking chores went to inker supreme Joe Sinnott ( cue the squeals) Joe made EVERYTHING look good. As time went on Joe left and was replaced with the inking team of Ian akin and Brian Garvey. They were a little heavy handed for my tastes, but good overall. As all good things must come to an end, Mr. Buscema left the book for other projects and, with a brief issue or 2 drawn by Mark Bright, we were given the penciling stylings of Spiderman co-creator Steve Ditko! While I am always a fan of sturdy Steve, this was at a time when Mr. Ditko's art was lacking something...it was if he wasn't really too interested in drawing comics and was just doing what he could to get a paycheck. From what I've read, Steve eventually just did super rough layouts and almost no details at all. P. Craig Russell was the inker and he wound up doing a majority of the work.
Overall, this comic has/had an incredible amount of artistic talent gracing the pages, but the one constant throughout the whole series, the one huge source of continuity for the story, was writer Bill Mantlo! Back in the day, you couldn't find a comic that he hadn't had a hand in...he wrote ROM, the Hulk, Micronauts and so many more. In fact, he was the guy that created everyone's favorite alien bandit, Rocket Racoon! Regretably, many years ago, Bill was involved in a hit and run and he suffered severe brain damage....bringing a close to his writing career. His talent is sorely missed
Welcome friends and fanatics, to my first ever unabashed blog of news, notes and nostalgic musings!