On the peaceful planet of Elonia, a surprise attack by the pernicious DIRE WRAITHS leaves the planet and its Solstar Order defense corps reeling… so what can one young explorer named Rom possibly do to help in the face of such savage an attack? Find out here as IDW proudly presents the full, unfettered origin of ROM, first of the Space Knights in a tale told by the series’ ongoing team of Ryall, Gage, and Messina

ROM has had an interesting history when it comes to comics, as it is not native to the medium. ROM was instead a toy from Hasbro, with some cool accessories and a slight backstory of being a “space knight”. It was Marvel who provided the origin, enemies and inner workings of the space knights in their ROM series, while embedding the titular hero in the Marvel Universe. The Marvel series was very popular, even with those who were not generally comics readers (most of the non-comics reading mates I have proclaim their love for it), so when the series ended in 1986 many felt a ROM-sized hole in their fandom.

Due to various legal issues, it took a long time for this hole to be filled, but IDW has done an excellent job in doing so in their new ROM series (launched last year with a Free Comic Book Day Issue #0). Over seven issues the series has reintroduced ROM and his enemies (the vile dire wraiths), and given him a new mission and supporting characters on Earth. Now, in the 2017 ROM Annual, writers Christos Gage and Chris Ryall, along with artist David Messina, the origin of the new millennium’s ROM is finally revealed.

Like those of the best heroes, ROM’s origin has at its heart a tragedy which motivates him to fight the evil dire wraiths, protect his people and sacrifice a normal life to become a Knight of the Solstar Order. Ryall and Gage do a great job of setting up ROM’s normal life before taking it all away in a horrific fashion, and cleverly allow ROM’s sarcastic personality  to shine through as he navigates subsequent events; events which make the young man a hero. David Messina’s art is gorgeous, with clever designs for the number of aliens featured in the series, including the frightening dire wraiths, and beautifully choreographed action scenes.

The only downside to the story is that it familiar to the point of being cliché. By mimicking so many elements of comics most famous origins – a young man has his life turned upside down by evil, he accidentally gains the power to fight said evil and sacrifices any chance of an easy life by vowing to continue fighting evil – the story is robbed of some originality. Still, it is a familiar tale well told, and the lack of plot innovation is balanced by some clever dialogue and impressive art.

Title: ROM Annual 2017

Publisher: IDW

Rating: 3.5/5

Reviewer: Brett Harris 

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