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An Ode to a Licensed Character, Part 4 of 8 – Rom #72

April 12, 2010

We’re back for another go at the final issues of one of my childhood favorites, Rom the Spaceknight.  In previous posts I’ve added some scans showing important moments in each story and highlighting Steve Ditko’s wonderful artwork.  I won’t be doing that this time around, and there’s one main reason for that – Bob Layton, the inker in this ish.  I mean no offense to him – I’ve enjoyed much of his work, but in this instance his inks totally overwhelm Ditko’s pencils, and since Rom and his cohorts don’t make appearances in this issue, I’m even less inclined to put in that extra effort.

So I’m being a lazy slug on this one.  Sorry.

As you may notice from the cover, this is one of the innumerable Secret Wars II cross-overs that plagued Marvel back in the day.  And yes, we’re treated in this issue to a huge slab of the Beyonder in all his jheri curled glory.  He shows up at a mountain cabin where three characters are hanging out.  We have the omnipresent Rick Jones, who’s suffering from cancer he developed while trying to absorb gamma rays to become a hero like his pal Bruce Banner.  Brandy Clark is Rom’s human love and a one-time Spaceknight named Starshine.  Rounding out the trio is Cindy Adams, a young girl whose parents were apparently killed by Dire Wraiths.

The Beyonder, in his desire to understand humanity – or whatever the hell it was that motivated him – grants Rick and Brandy their deepest desires.  He turns Brandy back into a Spaceknight so that she can be at Rom’s side among the stars, and he makes Rick into a super-hero, so that he can fight for truth and justice and all that good stuff.  Rick’s hero look is sort of nifty – an amalgam of the Hulk and Captain Marvel, two of Rick’s foremost super-powered acquaintances. 

Cindy, of course, wants her parents back.  And lo and behold, the Beyonder informs her that they’re not really dead.  Their souls were taken by a Wraith, a Wraith that Rom banished to Limbo.  The Beyonder sends Brandy and Rick to Limbo to go get their spirits, and in short order they succeed in yanking them out of the Wraith in question.   They bring back two big pink pearls that represent Cindy’s parents, and the Beyonder reanimates them.  Bring on the happy music.

This cues up a mind-numbingly boring conversation between the Beyonder and Rick about the nature of desire and getting what you wished for.  It turns out Rick doesn’t really want the responsibility of being a full-fledged hero, and Brandy doesn’t want to be a Spaceknight.  Rick just wants to be a regular cancer-free guy; Brandy just wants to be with Rom.  The Beyonder makes it so.  Rick walks off a healthy, normal man.  Brandy is de-armored and teleported across the galaxy (we’ll learn later she’s headed to Galador).  Cindy goes off with her parents.  The Beyonder leaves to plague other Marvel titles with his presence.

There we go.

As much as I love this run of issues as a whole, this particular one leaves me a bit cold.  Between Ditko’s overwhelmed art, the Beyonder’s unwelcome presence, and the lack of the Spaceknight Squadron, it’s definitely the weak link in the chain.  But next time we’re in for some fun – Rom and his pals get to face off with a little thing known as the Shi’ar Empire.  The action’s so big, a double-sized annual is barely able to contain it.  Until then…

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 10, 2010 6:34 pm

    Hi Jared i’m back. now that i have the time today i wanted to have a look at the entire series of this topic. between Cindy getting her parents back, rick’s cancer getting cured and brandy be spirited away to yon Galador i felt that this issue was quite pivotal to the ROM anthology and to some degree to the Marvel Universe. to no surprise to you i’m sure i was pleased with the art work in this issue and was hoping at the time it would continue on this trend of having Dikto’s influence watered down. you seem to be something of an art buff have you seen this gallery of various renditions of ROM? if not check it out and leave some comments. i was there a few days ago and i commented on several works i liked or found interesting at least.

    i’m moving on to part 5

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