Not Marvel’s Finest Moment: Rom Space Knight #12

Rom Space Knight 12, pencils by Sal Buscema

The 80s were a big decade for robots. Okay, maybe actual robots didn’t make as many leaps and bounds as we might have hoped, but fake robots were all the rage. The decade gave us Terminator, Johnny-Five, the random robot from Rocky 4 (see below), and… Rom the Space Knight?

Rom is one of the most obscure characters from the Marvel franchise, and it’s probably best if it remains that way. No Rom rebirth is necessary. I only found the issue by chance while going through a box of comics that were retired from a middle-school library after too much wear and tear. My grandmother, for some reason believing these dilapidated comics might be worth something, has kept them in a box for 30 odd years. I’ve tried explaining that the taped together spines make them worthless to collectors, but I think she’s held onto them so long now it’s too late to give up. Oh well. At least it works out for me.

Back to the subject of Rom. Basically he’s a robo Silver Surfer. He came to Earth to protect it, but no one understands him, and he’s often mistakenly branded a criminal. Issue 12 is written by Barry Mantlo and drawn by the classic artist Sal Buscema, although this is definitely not Sal’s pinnacle of artistic achievement.

Rom Space Knight contains some of the stodgiest dialogue in comic book history. There were many times where I was reminded more than anything else of Ed Wood’s cult classic Plan 9 From Outer Space. For example, read these two lines from Rom Space Knight #12:

Word box: “Ironic, isn’t it, that the unsuspecting Earthlings would turn a Wraith weapon against someone who has travelled light years to save Earth from the Wraiths?”

and

Rom’s thought bubble: “They regard me with fear and loathing because my body is made of metal. Yet they accept the Dire Wraiths whose evil wears a human form!”

Now compare those to this classic line from Plan 9 From Outer Space

“You know, it’s an interesting thing when you consider… the Earth people, who can think, are so frightened by those who cannot: the dead.”

The dialogue from Rom Space Knight makes Ed Wood seem like David Mamet.

The last thing worth pointing out is the inspired usage of onomatopoeia. When Jack of Hearts blasts Rom with energy beams, the sound effect is “SHROW” and when Rom is blasted by Dire Wraiths, the sound is “VREE.”

So Rom Space Knight is probably not worth anything, but it’s kitsch value is through the roof. One more bonus, there’s an ad for Hostess snacks (which recently filed bankruptcy) featuring Mr. Fantastic defeating a cuddly martian named Impercepto by throwing Twinkies at him. As Impercepto stops to eat the spongy lard, Reed Richards wraps around him and says “I see Twinkies cakes worked their power on you Impercepto.”

—Make sure to check out my two books of fiction, The Madness of Art: Short Stories and A Rapturous Occasion, both available on Amazon in paperback and as ebooks. The ebooks are pretty cheap too!

If you liked this article on Rom Space Knight #12, check out my other post “Not DC’s Finest Moment…”

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