Issue(s): ROM #28
We quickly learn that Starshine has an attraction to ROM, which causes instant death-wishing jealousy when ROM reunites with Brandy.
The appearance of Starshine causes some consternation, too, and this is because Brandy and many of the other citizens of Clairton have been replaced with Dire Wraiths while ROM was away (no thanks to the Torpedo).
ROM and Starshine soon discover that Clairton is infested with Wraiths, and the trail leads them to the Murder Mole, the discarded Wraith invention from an earlier issue, while the non-Wraith members of Clairton are sucked into the ground.
As predicted by the Most High One in that earlier issue, the Mole creature is vulnerable to light...
...but it turns out it's not working for the Dire Wraiths. The next attack comes from Moloids...
...and then the Spaceknights encounter the Mole Man himself. He's accompanied by a super-powered group of Outcasts...
...and also an aged Kala.
This is following up on a Winter Olympics issue of Marvel Treasury Edition that featured these characters.
The Mole Man has actually been protecting the people of Clairton from the Wraiths, and most of them have already been taken care of (by the people of Clairton, not the Mole Man and the Outcasts, and shown in a single flashback panel). But two Wraiths disguised as Brandy and Steve shoot down Starshine, killing her. She has enough time to repent her thoughts about Brandy before she dies.
Whatever the merits of using characters from an oversized Olympics special, the Outcasts are barely used in this story. They don't fight the Wraiths at all, and only have a brief misunderstanding fight with ROM and Starshine.
Mantlo had already used Landslide in Hulk, and all the Outcasts will appear again.
After all the effort it took ROM to get to Galador, not to mention his original 200 year journey to Earth, having him quickly brought back to Earth with barely a comment is a little too neat. But the use of the Mole Man (and tying it in with the Murder Mole!) is pretty cool, especially since despite the misunderstanding fight Mantlo is continuing to use the Mole Man sympathetically here.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Pushed back in publication time to allow ROM #31-32 to take place between Hulk #268-269. Shouldn't take place too long after ROM #27 anyway, since it begins with the Spaceknights floating on an asteroid after Galactus sent their planet away last issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBoulder (Outcasts), Digger (Outcasts), Hammerhand, Javelin, John Clark, Kala, Landslide, Mole Man, ROM, Sarah Clark, Starshine, Starshine II, Steve Jackson, Torpedo, Water Witch (Outcasts)
The new setup Mantlo introduces here--which is really a tweaked old setup--lasts for the rest of the series: kill Wraiths, then find Galador. I wonder if the series may have been near cancellation a few months earlier: a final battle with Nentus and the Most High One and Rom going home could have wrapped up the series. Maybe the license was up for renewal at the two-year mark and Mantlo wanted the pieces in position for a quick ending?
Posted by: Walter Lawson | July 23, 2013 12:42 AM
I didn't realize someone actually read ROM.
Posted by: Jack | July 23, 2013 12:46 AM
We got some really good stories after the Wraith War had ended, with ROM traveling through space.
ROM lasted for 75 issues, so yes, many people must have been reading it. It was a pretty fun series. Lots of references to forgotten Marvel minutiae.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | July 23, 2013 12:53 AM
Pushing my hypothesis a bit more, it's around this time we first see the male wraiths in something like their true forms, I believe. Parker Bros. has lifted its stipulation about leaving the wraiths for the manufacturer to design, and presumably by this point the original Rom toy itself has been discontinued. So there probably was a license renogiatiation around this time, presumably with Marvel saying that the title was doing well enough that it should continue, even without the product it was meant to support.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | July 24, 2013 12:03 AM
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