May 13, 2009

ROM #59 [1984]

This is the first issue of Ditko's extended run on this series, joining original writer Bill Mantlo and lasting until the final issue of the book with #75. The 22-page story "A World Alive" starts with some quick catch-up, as we're in mid-story. Mantlo does a pretty good job throughout the book re-establishing the major points of the series, so this is a good introduction to ROM, an alien cyborg Spaceknight who has spent the previous 58 issues defending the Earth from his long-time foes the Dire Wraiths and their escalating attacks. The latest wave has the Wraiths infecting insects, so of course Ant-Man finds his expertise required. Ant-Man uses his shrinking powers to send ROM and his companion Starshine down into the body of an infected ant to discover the roots of the problem.

Very neat visual gimmick throughout this story of the pages featuring ROM and Starshine shrinking generally keep them the same size from panel-to-panel while everything around them grows, revealing greater detail as we get further down and some odd perspectives. Keeps it very visually entertaining in the midst of a pretty talky comic.  Also, Ditko gets to give his 30-year-old skills drawing ants a workout, and that's always neat.

Bob Layton is the inker for this issue, and I kind of liked the very slick, modern shine he puts on the artwork, the kind of style I wouldn't want to see on most Ditko work, but that I'm glad we did get to see a few times (Layton would ink one more issue of ROM).


  1. I have to admit that I sold off all my Ditko-drawn ROMs on eBay around 2 years ago. I only bought one issue of Ditko's ROM back when it was new (at the same time that I was buying up and loving most of Ditko's other stuff). In the 1990s, in a futile attempt to have a complete collection of Ditko's work, I bought up all his ROM issues in the cheap boxes. Nearly 10 years later, I accepted the fact that I had no desire to actually read them, and sold 'em off. Still, they might be a cheap way to obtain Ditko work today (if they can still be found in the cheap boxes) and it is occasionally interesting to see what the ROM superstar inkers do to Ditko's pencils.

  2. That's understandable, the ROM stuff can be kind of hard to get into cold, with five years of history going into the Ditko run (with the first half-dozen issues wrapping up that whole storyline). I think some of the single-issue stories a bit later in the run are really solid, and don't really need more than a basic background of the character (which is usually provided in each issue, as was the style at the time).



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