Issue(s): ROM #61, ROM #62, ROM #63, ROM #64
Because so many Wraiths are gathered (in their Deathwing forms), ROM is able to banish quite a lot of them to Limbo.
But they eventually overwhelm him, transporting him to a dark dimension. However, even though Brandy Clark is no longer Starshine, a vision of Starshine rescues ROM.
The Wraith damage is done, however, and their plan is set into motion.
We heard about it last issue, but i guess it didn't quite sink in with the cast, because ROM has to interrogate poor Cindy Adams again - to Rick Jones' overplayed outrage.
There's something about the dialogue in a Bill Mantlo comic that is just so... off. Read these four panels below. Do they make any sense to you? Does Gyrich's response to General Locklin in panel three seem like a complete non sequitur to anyone besides me? And the melodrama! The exposition! Make it stop!
This is a cheap shot, but when i see a your/you're typo like this in a comic, you have to wonder if it's even being edited at a basic level.
Ditko's depiction of Cindy's vision is pretty cool.
Unfortunately, his depictions of the non-fantasy scenes don't look as great, especially without Tom Palmer's inks like we had in issue #60.
Gyrich figures that humanity still has a chance against the Wraiths, because unlike ROM's Galador, Earth already has super-heroes. And they've also been able to replicate ROM's Neutralizer, although Forge is currently withholding that technology.
Gyrich has to be pretty cocky if he thinks that the X-Men are going to help him out after he blasted away Storm's powers. But that scene is just "conceptual"; it's not like Gyrich actually mentions any of the heroes. At least they didn't draw Storm into this scene. By the time this issue was published, Spider-Man wasn't wearing his Black Costume anymore, either.
Regarding the Neutralizer, we have a problem. It's said that Forge has the "first and only Neutralizer" and he doesn't intend to give it up.
Since we saw another Neutralizer in Iron Man #190, we'll have to agree that the one that Forge has is the "first", and now that Iron Man destroyed the other one, it's also the "only".
While everything about this book is kinda crappy, at a basic level it's still building up a cool concept that will eventually be the Wraith War.
ROM heads over to Forge's penthouse to convince him to release his weapon, but Forge pretty convincingly doesn't trust handing over a power-neutralizing weapon to the likes of Henry Gyrich.
Another two "conceptual" panels in issue #62 show a collection of the Earth's heroes.
It includes the Hulk, who's currently in another dimension, and black costume Spider-Man, who would have been back in his regular costume for two issues by now. In the lettercol for issue #66, it's revealed that these pictures of Spider-Man were inserted by the inker, so it turns out this isn't Ditko returning to Spider-Man, something he's always refused to do. It doesn't explain why Spidey would be in the wrong costume since the inker comes in even later in the process, but i guess inkers are more out of the loop (and maybe the all-black version is easier to add in when inking).
The panels are supposed to show everyone that would be affected if the government got their hands on a power neutralizer, but they include Iron Man and Hawkeye, neither of whom would be affected. Anyway, it's just an opportunity for Ditko (mostly) to draw a bunch of Marvel super-heroes; they aren't meant to reflect "reality".
Luckily for Earth, the Dire Wraiths get nervous when ROM goes to talk to Forge, so they head to Dallas and attack random civilians in the hopes of drawing the two out of Forge's heavily protected mansion (which the Wraiths are wary of after having attempted to invade it in Uncanny X-Men #187).
This of course has the opposite of the intended effect, because it convinces Forget that he does have to help in the Wraith War.
This is the most action-oriented we've seen Forge so far. He's also a little funny looking.
After dealing with the initial threat, the story jumps 24 hours ahead to ROM and Forge in orbit around the Earth, building a giant Space Neutralizer
I was originally rejecting the logic of Forge's refusal to hand over his Neutralizer on the grounds that he could have configured it to only affect Wraiths or have the weapons expire (planned obsolescence) after a short period of time, but i've convinced myself that the former wasn't technically feasible and the latter wouldn't prevent the government from somehow reverse-engineering the weapons. So i was willing to accept Forge's dilemma as genuine.
But even after the Wraith attack, Forge resists making the hard decision and instead finds a Third Way, which is to build this giant amplifier for ROM's weapon.
This ensures that no one but ROM will have the power to activate the weapon (apparently Forge's version won't do the trick). But, i said to myself, doesn't this mean that the entire Earth will be bombarded with the Neutralizer, ensuring exactly what Forge feared most: that all of Earth's heroes would also lose their powers? And indeed, that will become a major concern.
But luckily, after a battle with some Wraiths disguised as astronauts, the Worldmerge reaches its final stages and the black hole in the sun spits out the Dire Wraith's planet.
The arrival of the new world causes major destruction on Earth.
The planet will give Forge a new target for his giant Neutralizer in upcoming issues, allowing him to avoid shooting the Earth. But unfortunately, ROM is on Earth when the planet arrives, and he is waylaid by a large group of Wraiths disguised as churchgoers (it's said in issue #65 that this is an assemblage of every Wraith on Earth).
Gyrich in this story is depicted with absolutely no nuance. In Jim Shooter's Avengers series, he was a guy that you rooted against because he was making life hard for our heroes, but in the real world a lot of people would agree that there should be some oversight of super-powered vigilantes. In Claremont's books, Gyrich's willingness to move forward with the Sentinel program was a little less defensible, but he still wasn't a straight-up villain. In Mantlo's ROM, Gyrich is... a little unhinged.
Meanwhile, Rick Jones is bonding with the depowered Brandy Clark and young Cindy Adams during the destruction.
We pause here to check out the events of Fantastic Four #277, which takes place concurrently with ROM #65.
A word on the art: As has been the case, Ditko has been relatively good at the more imaginative stuff but looking stiff and old-fashioned on the more realistic scenes. I had hoped that the addition of P. Craig Russell on inks for issue #64 (and most of the remaining series) would help embellish Ditko's storytelling, but actually his soft lines seem to make things worse. I actually like Brett Breeding's heavier style on issue #63 better.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after ROM annual #3, which takes place between New Mutants #25-26. Takes place more or less concurrently with Thing #22 and Fantastic Four #276, leading up to Fantastic Four #277 taking place at the same time as ROM #65. See the Considerations section for ROM #65-66 for more.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showCindy Adams, Forge, General Merriwether Locklin, Henry Peter Gyrich, Rick Jones, ROM, Starshine II
I hadn't realized the scope and enormity of the Wraith war until re-reading these recaps. Completely epic and with stakes- the Dire Wraiths are legit threats with a formidable mixture of sorcery and occult power, sci-fi alien menace, and so forth. I cannot believe how empty and forced Marvel's "Events" of the last decade plus have been, when you have stuff like this and the Thor storyline with Surtur in the regular books month every month.
Posted by: Wis | October 19, 2017 12:15 PM
Rom# 61 was the first issue of Rom I bought. No idea why. I might have seen a foot note in another comic. Great job cross-selling, Marvel! I had purchased X-Men #184-185 around this time and thinking how cool it was that they used some of the same characters and continuity was pretty tight. That’s what I started to miss in the 90’s. Marvel under Shooter was awesome.
Posted by: Mquinn1976 | April 26, 2018 4:45 PM
I used to keep a list in a notebook of issues referenced in footnotes, then try to match them up with what was available for cheap from those Mile High Comics ads, and really built out my collection that way from ages 8-12 or so.
Posted by: cullen | April 26, 2018 5:31 PM
On some level, it feels rather surreal a brand-new X-Men character was a supporting character in toy license illustrated by Steve Ditko.
Posted by: rabartlett | May 6, 2018 11:39 PM
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