AT4W: ROM: Spaceknight #1-40

A retrospective on the first 40 issues of the far-reaching licensed comic about a cyborg who fights evil space wizards.

About Linkara

Atop the Fourth Wall is a show about bad comic books. Linkara finds the surreal and the stupid and breaks them down page by page. You'll know why they're idiotic and how they can be improved.

85 comments

  1. Man, I remember reading ROM when I was a kid and loving it. I didn’t even know it was based on a toy.

  2. You know, I was half-expecting to hear The Blockbuster Buster’s voice come out of Poyo.

    • Linkara should do a long video of every single TGWTG person as his voice, all with different reasons not to use it, like Linkara vetoing Hagan because he’s certain it’d end horribly.

  3. i dont know how to feel about pollo having a voice, but i try to be open to new ideas, so…. sure, lets see where ths goes

  4. Marvel sure did publish some good licensed comics back in day. This is first time I heard about ROM but seems like it might even better than GI Joe comic book.

  5. Wow, Rom was a really good comic. Of course several of my favorite comics are ones that are licensed, but this is an awesome example of a publisher accepting a license into their canon whole-heartedly. I kind of want to see a Rom Space Knight movie in the MCU now…maybe they can even hint at or introduce him in Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

  6. Okay, it’s time for me to learn why ROM: Spaceknight is awesome, because of the fact I never heard of him until Linkara’s review of US-1 #1, which was also based on a toy product.

    Nice job on changing Pollo’s voice. The scene reminds me of that in Power Rangers In Space when Andros was fixing Alpha 6’s voice.

    6:57- If these guys WERE pirates from space, they would dress more like Han Solo.

    9:01- Or maybe ROM is like Johnny Five from Short Circuit; he had a malfunction and needed imput.

    13:03- Yeah, the Marvel Universe has a knack on bashing various superheroes. Spider-Man, The X-Men, Daredevil. It’s like they are the Michael Bay of the superhero community (I said that because the Michael Bay hate has become overrated).

    22:54- I haven’t seen the movie “It’s Alive,” but a quick Wikipedia search told me that it’s about a demon baby.

    25:28- I think My Little Pony in the Marvel Universe would only happend in the Ponies came from another dimention.

    28:00- So, ROM has become something similar to C-3PO to the Ewoks?

    I can never get over your Schwarzenegger accent, Linkara.

    35:09- At least the love rectangle in this comic is better that the love triangle of Donna Troy, Kyle Raynor, and Jason Todd in Countdown.

    After watching this episode, I’m really interested now on what’s gonna happen in the last half of this comic series. I also wonder who will appear in the Previously On segment for next week’s episode.

  7. Am I the only one who’s seeing the front page NOT displaying this video or any of today’s updates at all?

  8. ROM: Spaceknight is one of the best comic books ever.

    Not “from America,” not “from the 80’s,” ever.

    It has a long, singular narrative. It has an engaging protagonist you follow through the whole run (75 main issues, 4 annuals, and various appearances outside his comic). It has an epic story about humanity, and warfare, and love, and sacrifice, and kick-ass battles. It is one of the best comic books ever. It might even be one of the best stories ever, but the problems of serialized story-telling could kind of hinder it in that regard (Linkara hits a couple of those points, especially in regards to revealing things to the audience that it keeps from its main character too often, instead of letting the audience and ROM find things out at the same time; another is, since it’s serialized, there’s a lot of redundant recapping and plot synopses; around the 40-50 issue mark, ROM reiterates his problems every issue, and it ventures into wangst territory, just because it keeps being repeated so often).

    Good job, Linkara, and I look forward to the second half of the series!

    • Unfortunately, I have to disagree. While the plot and premise are very interesting and promising, there are two main problems that the series has; lots of needless expository textboxes and (and this is the big one,) atrocious dialogue. Now, there were certainly other comics using expository textboxes back then, so this can be somewhat excused. The dialogue in other comics back then also tended to be somewhat different than today, so one could think that could be excused as well. But even by the standards of the time, ROM’s dialogue is just incredibly wooden and stilted. To be fair, Mantlo’s style of dialogue isn’t that bad in it’s own right; it actually works decently well in Micronauts. But that’s because Micronauts mostly takes place in it’s own dimension, where the characters SHOULD be speaking in a a more simple, straightforward style, and they do. But ROM largely takes place on Earth, and so you’d expect the characters to speak like actual human beings. But that just isn’t the case.

      On top of all that, the art for the first part of the series, while not bad, isn’t really good either; it’s just plain boring, with no life or soul to it. If the characters spoke like human beings, and if the art was taken up a notch, I might have been able to get into ROM. But as is, I couldn’t get past so much as the 4th issue. Don’t get me wrong; ROM had a LOT of potential. It’s just that said potential was marred by a lack-luster execution

  9. So…we could rename Rom Spaceknight ‘They Live 2000’?

  10. I wonder if the comic worked so well because the toy… didn’t. If the toy had been a big success, there might’ve been more interference from the toymaker in what the character could do in the comics.

    • The toy was ‘unique”. It was I believe the first time anyone had tried something like that. The first real attempt at an electronic semi reactive action figure. It used circuitry similar to a spaceship toy called Starbird, so there was a crude accelerometer of sorts in it, so it would change sounds somewhat as you swooshed it. The characters name was literally from the fact that it was the first “Action Figure” to have a Rom chip onboard. It was a fairly meh toy and is much more interesting as a historical artifact. I always wished Hasbro would team up with Marvel to release a good quality modern articulated comic version of the character with the original sound effects onboard.

  11. When love triangles get too dull for you try love rectangles! Clearly the only solution to this is some kind of foursome!

  12. Now I really want to see how the cast of My Little Pony would fit into the Marvel Universe.

      • Steven Universe would actually fit pretty well, all things considered. they are not that far out a concept that could not find it’s place in the Marvel Universe(hell, considering Tokusatus spider-man is now part of the multiverse…). it is right in the alley as Squirrel Girl or Ms. Marvel.

    • First of all it is worth to mention that G1 My Little Pony animation (and other popular Hasbro animation of 80’ties) was made by Marvel Productions, so such connection already exist. For practical reason best option would be if it would simply exist as TV show in that universe, but knowing Marvel who know in end?

      Also other fun fact.. in Teen Titans Go first episode it was mentioned that DC also have there MLP knockoff TV show know as “Pretty Pretty Pony”.

    • the ELEVENTH realm. the land…OF EQUESTRIA! were the all mother Faust ruled over the magical species known as PONIES! spreading a message of HARMONY throughout all the realms!
      Hear YE Tale of Borson encounter with lady Faust, of how he went to look for aide when his people were in danger and she gave him the wing of FRIENDSHIP and accepted to FEED her people and to CURE their sick.
      Hear Ye Tale of the moon and the sun, back when the chaos spread throughout the realms and the day and the night were one and the same. the tale of when crops would not grow, people could not sleep, and pandemonium ruled. and two sisters BORN with both the wing and the horn, TRAVELED to the lands were no warrior was able to SURVIVE. faced the King of the SHADOWS and harvested the GIFT to be the moon and the sun.

  13. Most of my favorite comic books are licensed properties. I would love to read ROM, but unless there were to be some sort of re-release, that is not on the table for me. Hasbro did renew his trademark and release some sort of collectable of him last SDCC, and Marvel has allowed the more recent IDW reprints of the original Transformer series to keep the scenes with Marvel characters in, so it sounds like their relationship with Hasbro is improving. I hope that means some reprints are coming.

    Eric Stephenson sounds like such a snob. After reading some more of his comments, it is pretty clear he is criticizing books that he obviously does not read and did not research, which is a pet peeve of mine. The G.I. Joe comic, which is the first version of the G.I. Joe story to be made and has some of the most famous comic issues of all time, is not the real thing? Really? All he did with those comments were make himself look like a fool and make me not want to support his company.

    • For most books I would never ever suggest this. But given the unique situation that Mantlo’s Rom and Micronauts work finds itself in, in that it is likely to never see reprint. I do know for a fact that there are full libraries of scans of both Rom and Micronauts running around the interwebs. I would suggest if you should happen to accidentally find yourself in possession of one of the other, consider making a donation to the charity that manages Bill Mantlo’s long term care.

  14. Pollo DOES sound better British. Also, I so want to see a ROM movie now. Marvel could totally pull it off! This was so interesting. I learned a lot. Can’t wait for next week.

  15. Dear Linkara:

    If you do any Lovecraft based comics this year, be sure to ask Mr. Kessler for an H.P. cameo.

  16. Oh man. I loved ROM. It was the first comic I ever had the chance to start reading at issue 1. I so miss Bill Mantlo being able to write. Such a sad story there.. Between ROM and Micronauts he defined a generation of Marvel Space Goodness. (Speaking of which here’s hoping we eventually see Bug in the Guardian of the Galaxy movies.)

    • Well I have some good news and some bad news I will begin with the good. James Gunn said in an interview he would love to have Bug in the next or future Guardians of the Galaxy movie unfortunately the bad news is Marvel does not own the movie rights to Bug so that is a no go. Much like Rom he is owned by a third party Rom is owned by Hasbro and it is highly highly doubtful he will ever be made. Though after watching this retrospective on the series of Rom it sounds like having a Rom the Spaceknight movie in the MCU would be amazing.

      • Wait, now I am confused? It is ROM that Marvel does not have the rights to. ROM was created and owned by Parker Brothers, who were then absorbed into Hasbro. (Although given Disney, Lucasfilms and Mrvels longstanding relationships with Hasbro, and the fact that the MCU is a license to print money I can see where Hasbro may be willing to cooperate on the whole movie appearence thing.)

        But Bug while a member of the comic Micronauts is oneof the two (well 2 and a half) main characters that were actually outside of Mego’s license and were wholly owned by Marvel. (The others being Princess Mari and Arcturus Rann, so long as they never say “Space Glider”). Bug is pretty much the only Micronauts character that has really thrived outside of that book and into modern continuity (yes yes I know the other “Microns” showed up in that “Son of Hulk” mini. It was lame.) Bug in the comics was a founding member of Star Lords team and kicked ass. I am mainly assuming that Bug and Mantis were largely avoided for the movie because the movie already had way to many green people. (at one point the GotG in the comics were StarLord, 4 green people a Racoon and a talking dog.)

        • Gunn just said he wanted to use Bug who was in one of his early scripts for GOTG but he can’t use him. He didn’t say who owns the movie rights but somebody does.

  17. That was good, even outside of a few continuity issues and does prove license products can have a lasting effect in a comic universe. Although the idea of My Little Pony crossed over with comics/series has been done by at least the fandom and does bring forth ponified versions of all kinds of characters and among them, Pinkazoid.

    Something ROM has made me think of is due to the plot and plans of the Wraith, is that would have been a much better story for Destiny to be based on than the generic blandness of garbage it actually is.

    This would be off the wall and most likely not happen, but I would like to see Marvel do a movie based on ROM and at least do his origin story or just cross him over with the Guardians, Averengers, or Fantastic Four for reason.

    Overall, I think I like ROM as a whole. They put alot of effort in a character who originally had no back story, no personality, and little to no purpose and yet turn him into an integral part of the Marvel universe. That is quite a task and I do vaguely remember hearing of ROM years ago, but no real knowledge on him.

    Best cross over every, ROM and Nuetro.

  18. Halfway through the video I’m just thinking; “Oh the story of those space knights that have giant Dalmatians.” Then I recall; “Oh, yeah… that was from the Battle of Bludhaven review, which in turn is from DC.”

    I kind of hate it when that happens, because I’m just expecting characters to appear.

  19. On the comment about modern Marvel integrating licensed material into the 616:

    I sooooooo wanted them to do that with Kim Possible when Disney bought them. Kim’s dealt with a R63 Fury before (actually, an entire SHIELD knockoff basically), she’s fought supervillains and aliens and even a fallen superheroine with freaking plasma fists, her martial arts skills make her the equal of former SHIELD agent and ATLAS head Jimmy Woo, and she’d just look great in a SHIELD uniform.

    Also, it would have been interesting to see the Incredibles integrated as well when Marvel got the rights from Boom!, but all they did with it was reprint the Boom! stuff in oversized magazine format. For barely less than the digest sized trades Boom! put out. Which I already owned.

    …Man, Marvel fucked up big there.

    • Incorporating the Incredibles into the Marvel universe wouldn’t really work, because by the rules of the Marvel world, “supers” would actually be mutants, and also the way the theme of superheros is dealt with in The Incredibles, what with superheros worldwide retiring after peole start to disslike them, would conflict with the fact that superheros as a whole in the Marvel world have always stayed active since their conception.

      • Not only that, but the “retirement” of supers was done for ridiculous “legal reasons”. Pragmatically speaking, that wouldn’t work in 616, since a good many of the heroes are already operating outside of normal legal parameters anyway.

        I think The Incredibles would work best as an Epic or Star imprint – published by Marvel, but not in 616.

        It does raise an interesting question, though: they outlawed superheroes, but how do you outlaw supervillains? Supervillains are already outlaws, and I don’t think they’d just go away because their arch-nemeses did; if anything, they’d come out of the woodworks and have a field day! So how did The Incredibles’ universe get rid of the villains, and if they were capable of doing so, why didn’t they just do that to start with?

  20. Holy crap, the last thing you’d expect to see is an epic comic series based on just one toy which wasn’t even that good. You would think Marvel would have bought license to ROM so he could be permanently part of their universe.

  21. Professor von SCIENCE!!!

    The Mole Man teamed up with civilians to beat a bunch of shape shifting alien wizard invaders to death to protect/assist a group of alien cyborgs… comics are weird.

  22. The first thing that came to my mind after hearing about the guns that sent people to a “phantom dimension” was how death was referred to as being “sent to the next dimension” in the Ocean Dub of Dragon Ball Z. I wish my parents had called me “Terminator”.

    Part of this series is what made Rogue turn to the X-Men? Wow. And I don’t quite agree with Eric Stephenson about licensed comics, but not because of that moment. Just look at Robots In Disguse; It’s praised as not only one of the best licensed comics on the market at the moment, but one of the best comics on the market at the moment, period. Hell, the Sonic The Hedgehog comics are arguably what keep the franchise alive during the downfall of the games!

    • I mean “Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye”. “Transformers: Robots In Disguse” was the name of the sister series which is now just called “Transformers” as a result of the upcoming cartoon having the same subtitle.

    • Well, Sonic had no real impact on the Archie Universe, but his first crossover with fellow licenced video game character left a huge impact on his own world, and left temporary effects on Mega Man’s.

  23. Am I the only one who would love to is ROM: Spaceknight as a movie or a cartoon?

  24. Linkara, how about a “coins, robots, amazons and trucks” month to make the theme song relevant again?

  25. Good sir,

    This was awesome! I love the tone, lore and explanation of both your review/retrospective as do I love the (until now) unknown book. Please do more video’s like this one, it was great!

  26. Rom wasn’t the only licensed comic to feature mainstream marvel heroes

    Spidey was in tranformers , nigthcrawler & some members of alpha flight were in Crystar the Crystal warrior

  27. MidnightScreeningsman2014

    good video I really enjoy you going into this characters archives and looking at why rom is so important. Just a quick comment, nice voices by doug and especially calluna she’s one of my favorite new talents on the site. What ever happened to Rayna before she was killed because I would like to see her character fleshed out more in the comics. as for splitfire(or whatever that fire persons name was in the comic I forgot) I like it how the suit still had a person in him that’s very interesting. I love the british voice you attached to him very cool. I remember reading in a marvel character encyclopedia that I have that moleman is a attribute to kala who he fell in love with. As for the comic,galactus is hue weighing 13 feet and 4 inches I think and he is an awesome villain. I would like to learn more about that unknown marvel superhero in the next video it would be very interesting to go into his backstory and review one of his comics one day. we’ll I hope next week is as interesting as this week and I hope that the comic creators finish rom’s backstory about how he came to earth.

  28. Wraith Warlock, taking power usually reserved for women? I guess you could say he was an M-R-Wraith!

    …..

    …….

    Yeah that was terrible. Brilliant ROM-trospective tho. 🙂

  29. Poyo’s voice is so very British! 😀

    Now he and MikeJ can chat over tea together as they plot over how to take over the world!

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