Writers: Christos Gage & Chris Ryall
Artist: David Messina
Colorist: Michele Pasta
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Review by Gregory Brothers
ROM was originally created as a toy in the 1970’s by Parker Brothers. In order to help promote the toy, the licensing rights were sold to Marvel Comics, who created a backstory and eventually had him interact with many of the main continuity characters. Since 1986, when Marvel published the last ROM comic, the character has been idle. In early 2016, IDW acquired the licensing rights from Parker Brothers to add to their growing list of comics based on toys and franchises from the 1980’s. To help integrate the series, IDW recently announced that ROM would join G.I. Joe, Transformers, Micronauts, and M.A.S.K in a shared universe.
ROM #1 includes a reprint of the issue that came out on Free Comicbook day so readers can quickly understand what the basic plot of the comic is. The story that is original to issue 1 picks up right where the Free Comicbook day issue leaves off. We know that ROM is a hero that has come from the a far off land in pursuit of the Dire Wraiths, who have secretly invaded Earth by going all invasion-of-the-body-snatchers and taken over human bodies.
ROM is very no nonsense about his mission, and shows no remorse for having to kill the host bodies, while not understanding why the people around him do not see what he sees, and accuses them of also being a Dire Wraith. This could have been an issue if not for the introduction of Darby, who is former military struggling with P.S.T.D. While the inclusion of her in this first issue if rather brief and shallow as far as character development, it does give you the sense that she will become the moral compass for ROM. Camilla Byers, who showed up in the Free Comicbook issue, appears in this first issue and she deals with her actions and the fallout of being one of the few humans who witnessed and survived the initial conflict between ROM and the Dire Wraiths. Seeing how she reacts and the path she is forced to take should give the readers a better feeling of how an everyday citizen deals with these extraordinary events.
ROM #1 does do an excellent job of setting up what is to come in the future and introduces us to what are the major players without burdening the reader with to much information. At times ROM’s monologues seem long and winding, but the inclusion of a human companion will allow conversations to hopefully flow more naturally in the future. Without the burdens of being attached to a toy line, Gage and Ryall are able to make ROM and the Dire Wraiths more violent in their interactions, but the idea behind the story is very much the same as the source material. The coloring and penciling are bright and pop off the page. Messina does a great job of contrasting his pencilling between humans and aliens, with the human characters drawn very realistically, while the aliens and ROM are able to be drawn in a more over the top manner with movement and actions.
Buy It! ROM #1 allows returning fans to have the sense of something they’ve enjoyed before without just rehashing the same story verbatim. This is a classic hero story with a modern take that will allow fans of the original series to revisit an old friend, but not feel as if they are just being sold on nostalgia. New readers will be able to jump on and enjoy the story without being burdened with referencing a series that is over 30 years old.