WRITER: CHRIS RYALL | ART: GUY DORIAN, SAL BUSCEMA | PUBLISHER: IDW | FORMAT: SINGLE ISSUE | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Some franchises have this eerie ability to elicit excitement in some and utter confusion in others. A fine example is ROM: Spaceknight. This 1979 toy was an Action Man-sized robot with flashing red eyes and a bunch of cool accessories. Marvel comics whipped up a complicated backstory involving space-shifting alien monsters called Dire Wraiths. The company produced 75 issues of crazy ROM action back in the ‘80s, filled with incredible tales of a giant metal robot knight fighting all sorts of eldritch horrors.
Alas, Marvel lost the license (the toy didn’t sell well), and the whole thing was left in limbo for decades until toy manufacturing giant Hasbro decided to relaunch a bunch of characters via comics company IDW. (You’ll be unsurprised to learn a movie is being planned.) Which is a roundabout way of bringing us to Rom – Dire Wraiths #1. The ROM spin-off that exactly nobody asked for.
It’s the tale of a bunch of Dire Wraith’s trapped on the moon’s surface after a previous misadventure. It is, of course, set during 1969 so what we get next is an alternative take on the moon landings. What could have been a solid horror story of astronauts fighting horrors from beyond the stars is instead a rather dumb and cliché-filled tale of baddies versus goodies. Much of the plot serves to nod at other IDW ROM stories rather than being its own thing.
The exceptionally cartoony art doesn’t help here; we get the feeling that the whole thing is always ten-seconds away from slapstick, despite some rather grisly scenes. ROM has always been goofy, but this is just rubbish.