Issue(s): ROM #6, ROM #7, ROM #8, ROM #9
In fact, the paranoia angle is really deflated when Steve's police friend Artie Packer, who was a witness to the aftermath of the Firefall battle, drops by.
Despite Artie laying it all out there, Steve doesn't trust him. You'd think he'd take a chance on his friend. If his friend is a Wraith, then there's no point in Steve denying that he knows what's going on.
Meanwhile, ROM dreams of Ray-Na.
Back at Project Safeguard, the Wraiths hook up Firefall for some tests...
...and then it's time for a meeting with the boss. We've seen this guy before in flashback in issue #1. But showing a big alien boss openly in charge of the Dire Wraiths again deflates the Bodysnatchers angle a bit.
The Wraith that's been posing as a SHIELD agent is deemed a risk, thanks to the recent failures but also because SHIELD is said to be cracking down on their security. This is interesting because it sets up SHIELD as the agency that can fight the Wraiths without interference from within. The fake SHIELD agent is disposed of when the boss summons the Deathwing.
In the future, we'll see Wraiths use Deathwings as part of their arsenal, but as of now it's talked about like there's only the one.
Another mainstay of the Dire Wraiths are the Hellhounds. We first saw the Wraiths using strange dobermans last issue. Now we see that they can transform into another form.
Two of them track ROM to Steve's garage, and they manage to put ROM's Neutralizer in a forcefield.
ROM is able to dispatch the Hellhounds with some help from Steve...
...but ROM's armor locks up after the fight. Steve says it's like a circuit-breaker got triggered. Artie Packer returns in the aftermath of the fight, and Steve shows him ROM and one of the dead Hellhounds, so Artie is now in the know. But not for long.
Steve has been unable to revive ROM so with Artie's help (ROM weights 850 pounds), they bring him over to Brandy's lab.
This is where Mantlo's flare for awful melodrama, frequently exacerbated by Sal Buscema's art (or maybe it's the other way around), starts to really interfere with the story. Steve does his best to help ROM. And he's been legitimately helping ROM since he learned the truth, quite a while ago now. But here is Brandy freaking out over his inability to confirm that ROM has been cured.
Meanwhile, the mysterious Dire Wraith leader releases a new threat to hunt down ROM. They are the "Thornoids", not true allies of the Wraiths but "carrion creatures that feed off the havoc we create".
And, true to their name, they are giant thorn plants. These guys will not have the staying power of the Deathwing or Hellhounds.
They do manage to kill Artie Packer before ROM wakes up, though.
ROM does finish off the Thornoids, but the Dire Wraiths still have his neutralizer....
...so he has to go after them.
The Wraiths summon "the" Deathwing to fight him.
But one of the lizard people that Ms. Marvel previously fought, Serpentyne, is also hunting the wraiths.
Apparently one of the human soldiers that Ms. Marvel let the lizard men brainwash was actually a Dire Wraith, and he returned with his allies to wipe out the lizard men so they could use their caves as a base.
Unfortunately, Serpentyne is so vengeance crazed that he chooses to fight ROM to the death for the right to be the one to kill Wraiths rather than team-up with ROM.
This is the second time that elements of the larger Marvel universe are used in flashback only. It's like they were dipping their toes in the idea of ROM crossing over with other books but weren't quite ready yet. The lizard people story from Ms. Marvel wasn't really something we needed to be reminded of, but that's Mantlo for you. And the character Serpentyne is so irrational it's frustrating.
I like Sal Buscema's art. There's a scene of ROM breaking up a Wraith event disguised as a funeral. And if you just looked at the art you'd think that ROM was a mad robot attacking humans, which is pretty cool.
The art is laid out a little weird in the above sequence, though. ROM is not supposed to have his Neutralizer, but he's clearly using it in that last panel. The dialogue shows that the final panel is actually meant to be a flashback, but it's confusing.
It could just be Mantlo fatigue, but with these issues i think something of the paranoia of the earlier issues is lost here and now we're getting into goofier stuff like the Thornoids and Serpentyne, and more of that "classic" Mantlo/Buscema hyper-drama is shining through.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: ROM, Brandy, and Steve are still on the run at the beginning of this arc so this should take place soon after the end of issue #5.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showArtie Packer, Doctor Deadalus (Dire Wraith), Firefall (Archie Stryker), John Clark, Most High One, ROM, Sarah Clark, Serpentyne, SHIELD Agent Kraller (Dire Wraith), Silas Lane, Sister Sweet (Dire Wraith), Starshine II, Steve Jackson
Do we ever see the Most High One in full? I assume he's a magic-using male wraith. I never saw him during my 1983-86 Rom-reading days.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | July 3, 2013 11:17 PM
I think the most we see of him is in ROM #20 which i'll be covering soon. I also had never heard of him until this current backissue add.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 4, 2013 11:29 AM
The Thornoids resemble Triffids.
The title to #6 refers to the 1975 film.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 5, 2013 4:40 PM
Have I mentioned yet: the birth date, Nov. 9 (1951 I think) is Bill Mantlo's.
Posted by: Cecil | January 12, 2015 1:58 PM
It's a small point but Artie Packer is not killed by the thornoids but rather he is choked to the point of unconsciousness. After the fight the cops show up and Brandy and Steve need him to wake up and corroborate their story. A wraith disguised as a doctor ensures Artie doesn't get the chance to do that. I found to be a nice malevolent touch to the story.
Posted by: Jake Amidon | September 24, 2015 11:01 PM
Thanks adding the clarification, Jake. For various reasons (brevity, prioritization, sloppiness) i don't always cover every in and out of the plots, but the way you added detail here and explain why you think it's an important part of the story is great.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 25, 2015 7:45 AM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|