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ROM #5

Review by Paul Bowler

With the REVOLUTION over, ROM #5 finds the Space Knight alone once again in his relentless war against the Dire Wraiths infesting Earth – or so he believes… This strange new world has changed for ROM in the wake of REVOLUTION. Now two armored newcomers known to ROM have arrived on Earth, but are they friend, or foe?

ROM #5 catches up with ROM some time following the aftermath of IDW’s REVOLUTION crossover event, and the plot and script by Chris Ryall and Christos Gage cleverly redefines ROM’s standing now that the IDW universe has become a more cohesive whole in the face of that mini-series’ game changing events.

The issue begins as ROM takes his leave from the tenuous allies he made during the cataclysmic finale of REVOLUTION, but as the Transformers and the forces of G.I. JOE reflect on the Dire Wraith threat still remaining on Earth not everyone shares Scarlet’s and Optimus Prime’s sentiments about ROM’s mission. Indeed, the memory of Megatron’s past actions during the Transformer occupation still resonate a little too close to home for some, and it is this, coupled with ROM’s actions during REVOLUTION where he vanquished a Wraith disguised as key military figure, that could well sow seeds of mistrust and dissent for the future.

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Chris Ryall and Christos Gage builds on these themes as the new status-quo of the combined IDW Universe begins to settle into place, ensuring ROM #5 neatly ties-into the conclusion of REVOLUTION and the new era beginning in next months REVOLUTIONARIES #1 – effectively book ending the saga and paving the way for the next chapter in ROM’s quest to rid the Earth of the Dire Wraiths. Speaking of Dire Wraiths, with their leaders dead, some are clearly relishing being free of the Old Guard, and embark on a rampage to take advantage of their newfound freedom. However, with ROM distracted by recent events, two new arrivals have come to Earth with a mission of their own, as two rogue Dire Wraiths in California soon discover to their cost!

With artist David Messina, who has been instrumental in defining the look and tone of IDW’s new ROM series, busy working on the ROM Annual #1, ROM 5-9 will be drawn by Paolo Villanelli. In fact, Paolo Villanelli’s pencils and inks on ROM #5 proves a perfect match for the series; Villanelli’s artwork nicely complements the style established by Messina in the previous issue, while brining Paolo Villanelli’s own distinctive flourishes to the characters and settings. The action is well illustrated and detailed, as the sombre, almost reflective opening scenes gives way to some explosive Dire Wraith carnage, there’s a beautiful panoramic spread recapping the events of REVOLUTION, and the exciting lead in to ROM’s inevitable encounter with his fellow Knights of the Solstar order is brilliantly handled by Villanelli. The colors by Alessandra Alexakis are also rich and vibrant, bringing added clarity to every scene with a vivid mix of color and tone employed throughout.

This issue provides some intriguing insight into ROM’s decision to continue his mission alone. He has encountered the terrible fusion of Wraith magic and Earth technology, in the form of Axiom, the technomage, which, combined the danger posed by Ore 13 during REVOLUTION, has now polarized his opinion of G.I JOE and the Transformers even further.

ROM’s return to Cooper’s Mill and Darby Mason’s family home in this issue also leads to a reunion with Camilla Byers, but has ROM left it too late to save her from the Wraith infection? ROM #5 is an exciting, fast paced issue from Chris Ryall and Christos Gage, and it is here, along with Paolo Villanell’s impressive artwork, that the issue really kicks into high gear as ROM battles to save Camilla from the Wraith influence that’s consuming her. Then of course we have the addition of two new Space Knight’s into the mix, with a big splash-page reveal, which leaves ROM reeling! So, if you haven’t checked out the Space Knight’s new adventures, now is certainly a good time to do so. ROM #5 does a great job of tying up the loose ends from REVOLUTION; it begins a bold new direction for this series, and provides an excellent jumping on point for new readers.

Publisher: IDW Publishing

Plot and script: Chris Ryall and Christos Gage

Pencils and Inks: Paolo Villanell / Color by: Alessandra Alexakis

Letters by: Shawn Lee

Regular Cover: Bob Layton & Mike Cavallaro

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