Rom now has an ally, and they’re on the run. The Dire Wraiths are everywhere, and they are relentless. Rom can only resist for so long, and as he desperately flees, the elements set up in the first issue finally converge. Looking back on my review of the first issue of IDW’s Rom relaunch, I don’t want to say that I was too kind but rather I want to be more up-front about what interests me with this new series. Bill Mantlo’s original run of Rom Spaceknight from the 1980's is partly defined by it's interesting and intrinsic relationship to the Marvel universe and the finality that existed for the series.
To see Rom brought back forty years later and in a different comic book, the universe has caused me to lean in close and see how it justifies its existence. This isn’t a sequel series. This is a reimagining and in some way feels like if in forty years someone remade Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga with the same lead characters but in a different setting.
This book will almost be a lesson in what happens when you remake something that feels like such a unique and finished property. This happens with movies all the time but for comics is relatively new.
As a story in a vacuum, I can't help feel that Rom #2 is on uneasy ground this time.
This issue felt like a retread of the same beats the first issue ended on. Rom now has a new ally in Darby Mason, and she readjusts to her new strange reality with her family dead and replaced by Dire Wraiths. However, little do they have time to rest and process this information when the Dire Wraiths strike again.
The original Rom Spaceknight was never a series that slowed down. Rom was on a rampage, but that type of story only worked because of the hyper-condensed style of the comic writing indicative of the 80's.
This time around that I want for Rom and Darby hide out in her home and stay there for a little longer, and so I could more clearly see the type of story intended on being told here and trajectory of these characters.
Still, as a longtime fan of the character, I can't help notice all the subtle little twists to the original formula. This team behind IDW’s Rom comic has such a clear passion for the original story and have thought critically about the tiny aspects of the original that when changed shift the potential of that story dramatically.
These twists reveal themselves in the last few pages of the issue so I won’t spoil them here, but as someone who read the previous series, they made sit up. Gage and Ryall have managed to preserve and respect the character of Rom while revamping his story for a new century.
Mantlo’s original Rom Spaceknight was far from a series built on a few issues, and it’s easy to see the ways this new series can come into its own and tell a story as weird and engaging as Rom ever was.
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Rom #2 Writer: Chris Ryall Artists: David Messina and Michele Pasta Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $4.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital