Issue(s): ROM #3, ROM #4
Criminal Archie Stryker has been taken to Washington to meet the members of the Project Safeguard program which is meant to be protecting America from aliens but is in fact infiltrated by Dire Wraiths. They convince him to don the armor so that he can fight ROM.
What they don't tell him is that it's not a battlesuit; the Spaceknights are cyborgs, and he will have to give up his humanity to wear the armor.
While the Safeguard Wraiths are training Stryker, ROM discovers a huge underground Wraith station where they are building an interdimensional transporter.
ROM says it could be used to return the Wraiths in Limbo to Earth, but i'd like to theorize that it also might have been used to bring Wraithworld to Earth's solar system. That will much later turn out to be a plot by the female Dire Wraiths, and they nearly accomplish it through sorcery. It's cool to think that ROM's presence on Earth is having a tangible effect on the Wraith's plans and his interference here sets the Dire Wraiths back and also strengthens the females' standing. But i'm just making stuff up now. ROM proceeds to banish the Wraiths.
The new Firefall shows up in the aftermath of ROM's attack.
Brandy Clark, meanwhile, is taken by two Dire Wraiths posing as government agents.
Steve Jackson chases after them. When they start firing laser beams at him, he realizes something's wrong, and in the subsequent car chase, the Wraiths are killed, and we see one of their forms outside the context of a Limbo banishment for the first time.
Steve realizes that Brandy has been right about ROM and the Dire Wraiths all along, which is good. When it was only Brandy who knew about the Wraiths there was too much opportunity for people screaming at each other but there was no one that could share Brandy's horror about the Wraith threat. Now Steve and Brandy can interact with each other and talk about the Wraith conspiracy.
The battle with Firefall is overlong, but i do think Sal Buscema does a nice job with the "Living Flame", depicting it distinctly from, say, the Human Torch's fire.
ROM eventually wins, in part thanks to rattling Firefall about the fact that he's been spliced into the suit and can't become human again.
ROM describes a relationship with the original Firefall that had them linked "as marriage links lovers". Absolutely nothing wrong with that!
The use of Stryker as Firefall was a nice way of showing what ROM sacrificed to become a Spaceknight. And i like showing how the Wraiths have infiltrated the government and the creepy way they can show up as government agents and abduct people. It's Invasion of the Body Snatchers type stuff, and it's done well.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): showFirefall (Archie Stryker), John Clark, ROM, Sarah Clark, SHIELD Agent Kraller (Dire Wraith), Sister Sweet (Dire Wraith), Starshine II, Steve Jackson
Mantlo is not one of my favorite Marvel writers, but he did very well with ROM. He wrote the entire series, correct? Not many writers have the chance to do that for one character - who else, Neil Gaiman?
Mantlo can be very bad, but when he's good, he can very entertaining. ROM is one of those series like Master of Kung Fu, that I mostly avoided, but would now be one of the few series I collect from the back issue box.
I don't think Firefall ever appears after this. That is too bad though. I think the character had potential.
Posted by: Chris | July 2, 2013 11:20 PM
Mantlo did write the entire ROM series.
I'm not sure if Firefall ever appears again, but Marvel does own all the Space Knights characters, other than ROM.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | July 3, 2013 12:06 AM
This Firefall appears again in issue #11 for a redemptive finale, but i somehow missed #10-11 as part of my current back issue add. And yeah, that's it for him although we do get to see the original in #19 and then a new one as part of the group that CK mentions.
I guess you're right that he could have been interesting as a repeat character. I wouldn't want him to become a second-stringer hero in this book (like Torpedo becomes). And i think the problem with him being a hero to appear elsewhere is that his "gave up my humanity to be trapped as a cyborg by Dire Wraiths" theme is too similar to ROM's, at least while ROM is on Earth. But maybe he could have been an interesting non-Wraith villain for ROM on occasion (an evil Spaceknight) that eventually redeems himself so that Marvel could keep doing Spaceknight stories after ROM ended?
Posted by: fnord12 | July 3, 2013 7:32 AM
Common mistake, but Rom isn't an acronym nor should it be all caps.
Posted by: Bigvis497 | June 24, 2017 2:55 AM
Posted by: fnord12 | June 28, 2017 9:39 PM
Cool, I'm new to the site so I didn't see that. Keep up the awesome work!
Posted by: Bigvis497 | July 5, 2017 1:48 AM
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