Issue(s): ROM #2
This issue starts with ROM arriving at the scene of a robbery at a corporation that has been developing laser cannons. But he's not there to stop the robbery. It turns out the manager of the company is a Dire Wraith. But of course the robbers don't know that, and they try to stop him. One of the criminals, Archie Stryker, turns the company's lasers on ROM.
ROM is able to withstand their attack, but they do slow him down, and he declares that the Wraiths have been adding their own technology to the humans'.
After banishing the Wraith to Limbo, the intensity of the lasers cause the building to explode, and ROM leaves.
ROM then returns to Brandy Clark, the girl he met in issue #1. She is joined by her boyfriend, Steve Jackson, who assumes like everyone else that ROM is a murderous robot. It's strongly implied that ROM uses his analyzer in way that deliberately scares Steve, due to jealousy.
Meanwhile, other Wraiths react to ROM's arrival on Earth. We see that the Wraiths have agents in high places, including SHIELD.
Pretty soon, the police arrive. Police Chief Rogers (also a Dire Wraith) arrives with Stryker, and is pleased to have Stryker confirm that he's the creature that he saw during his robbery attempt because "that means ROM is the only Spaceknight to have been spotted so far on Earth! We had feared there might be more.". Stryker is alarmed to see Rogers pull some advanced weaponry out of the glovebox, but quickly forgets that in the face of all that is going on.
ROM fights back, and banishes Rogers to Limbo.
With this issue, in the scene above and earlier with the factory manager...
...we get our first glimpses at something like the Wraith's true forms. From the little we can see, they are actually wraith-like at this point. That may have been just an attempt to show their spirit form as they were banished to Limbo. But eventually the Wraiths will be shown to look very similar to this, except as solid and lumpy. It will be a very uninspired form and much later a much cooler looking female variety of Dire Wraith will be introduced and they'll become the focal point of the invasion.
Behind the scenes, what's happening here is that Parker Brothers, who owned ROM, also had the rights to develop the look of the Dire Wraiths as well (this is stated in the lettercol for issue #7). So Marvel and Sal Buscema were playing it safe at this point and not really showing the Wraiths. But Parker Brothers quickly loses interest in ROM when the toy doesn't sell, and thanks to the fact that the design of the Wraiths was in limbo (ha ha!), their design isn't so much intentional as gradually settled upon. Say what you will about Sal Buscema, and this being a licensed book it wasn't exactly being given anyone's highest priorities and so we see some of Sal's worst traits, especially an abundance of garage door mouth...
...but he's designed better creatures in random throwaway panels than the male Dire Wraiths, so i really do believe this was a case of bad circumstances.
Lots of melodrama - see Archie Strkyer, a man who at the start of this issue was happy to steal from a laser weapon factory, now vehemently declaring that he'll hunt down ROM for killing a cop...
...but there's some cool stuff here. The idea that anyone might be a Dire Wraith is particularly menacing, and the way the public keeps thinking ROM is killing humans instead of banishing Wraiths is really plausible.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showFirefall (Archie Stryker), John Clark, ROM, SHIELD Agent Kraller (Dire Wraith), Sarah Clark, Sister Sweet (Dire Wraith), Starshine II, Steve Jackson
Any chance Archie Stryker is related to the Max Stryker we meet in Mantlo's Hulk?
Posted by: Walter Lawson | July 3, 2013 10:48 PM
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