The Small Lebowski:
Issue(s): ROM #1
From the very first issue it's made clear that ROM is not a robot. He's a Spaceknight, an essentially human creature from planet Galador that gave up his humanity 200 years ago in order to protect his world from the evil Dire Wraiths that came out of the Dark Nebula when a Galadorian merchant fleet tried to explore it.
In the flashback we also get a shadowy glimpse at the Wraith's leader (who looks nothing like any form of Dire Wraith, but this guy will appear in the early issues of the series).
ROM has come to Earth to hunt the Dire Wraiths. He's got 'Analyzer' and 'Neutralizer' devices (just like the toy!).
The Analyzer lets him see who the Wraiths are, since they can take human shape (it's not yet shown how they do so), and the Neutralizer banishes them to Limbo (as the dialogue makes clear, the Wraiths are not being killed, just banished. You certainly wouldn't know it from the art).
We don't really get to see the Wraiths in their true form yet.
The fact that no one else can see the Wraiths makes it look like ROM is going around murdering townspeople, so he doesn't become very popular. The Wraiths also have moles in the Pentagon, so they are able to get the National Guard after him.
ROM does encounter Brandy Clark, however, who gives him the benefit of the doubt.
The fact that this takes place in West Virginia keeps it out of the stomping grounds of most Marvel super-heroes, giving ROM his own space to star in. While a fairly cliched premise, this story is competently handled. There's some nice art by Sal Buscema; especially the opening splash panel, which was also used in the promo ads.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Character designs for this book were done by Dave Cockrum and Keith Giffen.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 2, 2012 1:44 AM
Man, that "Arrival" page is nice. Looks like Sal Buscema stepping out of his comfort zone a bit. I didn't have access to ROM as a kid but that page was fascinating when they used it it the house ads.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | April 4, 2013 4:55 AM
I don't know how, growing up in this time period, I never realized this was a licensed comic. Granted, I didn't read it, but I have no memory of the toy at all.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 18, 2015 7:41 AM
That's because the toy failed- according to Wikipedia, the toy only sold 200,000 to 300,000 copies. A rare example of the licensed comic being more successful than the actual product.
Posted by: Michael | April 18, 2015 1:20 PM
ROM looks to be Parker Brothers' sole venture outside of board games. It is strange how the comic book character has far outlasted its initial toy concept. Hasbro, who absorbed the Parker Bros. brand after it went belly-up, licensed the character to IDW Publishing in 2016, according to the updated Wikipedia page.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | May 26, 2017 10:32 PM
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