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ROM #4

Review by Paul Bowler

As the otherworldly events of REVOLUTION reverberate across the world ROM #4 finds our erstwhile Space Knight a prisoner of the military. Not all is quite as it seems though as the evil Dire Wraiths plot against the helpless ROM and his human allies, Darby Mason and Camilla Byers. ROM must now escape from his intangible prison and save his friends from the Dire Wraiths and their nefarious alien powers.

With IDW Publishing’s REVOLUTION crossover event well underway, ROM #4 sees Darby’s plan to use her credentials as a soldier to fool Dubosky and investigate the Vandenberg Air Force Base – with ROM and Camilla posing as captives – work like a charm, as Earthfall Part 4 finally uncovers the full extent of the shape-shifting alien Dire Wraiths infestation of the EDC. Indeed, the Wraith disguised as EDC operative David Dubosky certainly seems to have the upper hand, with ROM caged in a bizarre ghost-like state, and Camilla is also being held in quarantine where her Wraithmark infection is being closely monitored. Things don’t look good for ROM, especially with the magic of Sorcerer Wraith, Drge, somehow counteracting the affects of the Space Knight’s analysers. ROM #4 is a powerful, almost brooding issue as times, and the exciting plot and script by Chris Ryall and Christos Gage gradually ramps up the tension and drama to the max as Darby work covertly to get close enough to help ROM and sound out those she can trust.

We also get introduced to a number of new characters: Corporal Leonard Song gets inadvertently drawn into the action, C.O Marcus is as a tough no-nonsense character, and Dr Shen is very much concerned for Darby’s emotional well being considering she is still coping with PTSD and the loss of her entire family. All of them experience and witness things over the course of this issue that cannot be unseen or easily denied, there’s a lot of potential to be explored here, and I hope we see more of these characters in the future.

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Fortunately for ROM and Darby, Police Officer Camilla Byers infected Wraithmark does give them all one advantage, namely, that it allows Camilla to see through the Wraiths ability to disguises themselves – and it’s an ability that doesn’t seem to be affected by D’rge’s dark magiks like ROM’s analysers were. She also sees through David Dubosky in an instant, who it seems is also a very special kind of Dire Wraith, the scenes between them in this issue are genuinely disquieting, and they offer us chilling insight into the dark forces that threaten to consume her.

With excellent pencils and colors by David Messina, bold inks from Michele Pasta, and vibrant color assists by: Alessandra Alexakis, ROM #4 is another magnificent looking issue in this new IDW series. The pace and flow of the page layouts complement the intense action and the emotional beats of the story perfectly, and all of the characters are clearly defined. ROM looks fantastic as well and the creative team are clearly having a ball putting the Space Knight through his paces with this issue. ROM’s escape is ingeniously handled, there’s a nifty new use for his Neutralizer, and ROM gets to go toe-to-toe with a fearsome Warrior Wraith in what is undoubtedly one of this series’ most brutal and bloody confrontations so far.

Everything builds from an unflinching and uncompromising series of events for ROM and his allies in this issue, and what initially feels like a downbeat ending for this arc quickly evolves into something far more poignant and moving. Chris Ryall and Christos Gage’s brilliant scripting explores some especially strong themes and motivations for the characters here. ROM’s two-hundred year war with the Dire Wraiths has already taken its toll on the Space Knight, there are some striking parallels to be drawn here, ultimately ROM’s actions in this issue puts the inhumanity of war in a whole new perspective for everyone concerned, and for some they’ve already lost too much…

ROM’s involvement in IDW Publishing’s REVOLUTION crossover event also spins out of ROM #4 and continues over in the one-shot special ROM REVOLOUTION #1, and ROM also has a major role in the main five part REVOLOUTION series that will unite the IDW and Hasbro properties: Transformers, G.I. JOE, Action Man, M.A.S.K, ROM, and the Micronauts into one collective universe for the very first time.

Chris Ryall and Christos Gage close out this first arc of their new ROM series with dramatic style. ROM #4 is a rich blend of taut plotting and superb characterization, it moves towards a thrilling and moving finale, and the coda paves the way for some very exciting developments indeed! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed ROM’s return in this IDW series. The classic elements from Marvel’s original ROM series by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscena have been successfully reimagined by Chris Ryall and Christos Gage; along with a great new look for the character by David Messina, Michele Pasta, and Alessandra Alexakis. Sure, there have been some changes, but for the most part they’ve been successful, and there can be no doubt the creative team’s passion, love, and dedication to the character and the original comic book series shines through on each and every page of this new ROM series. ROM #4 is a hugely enjoyable issue, it brings something refreshingly new and different to the table, I’m really pleased with how this first arc has panned out, and I can’t wait to see where ROM’s adventures take him next.

Publisher: IDW Publishing

Plot and script: Chris Ryall and Christos Gage

Pencils and colors: David Messina / Inks: Michele Pasta

Color Assists by: Alessandra Alexakis / Letters by: Chris Mowry

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