During the late 1970s into the early ‘80s, the Parker Brothers were dominating the toy industry. Since their creation, they have produced everything from the intriguing Clue to the frustratingly fun Bop It. However, in 1977, they acquired one toy that inspired a very interesting line of comics. Do you know which toy this was?
Rom, originally known as COBOL, was created by Scott Dankman, Richard C. Levy, and Bryan L. McCoy, before being sold to the Parker Brothers. At that time, electronic toys were a new and exciting venture for the company. To build additional interest in Rom, the Parker Brothers licensed the character to Marvel Comics. Rom Spaceknight #1 (December 1979) was written by Bill Mantlo and illustrated by Sal Buscema. It expanded on Rom’s origin as a cyborg, and gave him a personality, supporting characters, and even villains. Occasionally, Rom also interacted with various other characters in the expanding Marvel Universe.
Long ago, Rom’s home planet Galador was under siege by the vicious alien race, the Dire Wraiths. The Prime Director was in desperate need for volunteers to be transformed into cyborg warriors, called Spaceknights. The volunteers were under the impression that their humanity (i.e. body parts) would be preserved and restored to them later. Rom readily volunteered, acquiring armor grants, superhuman strength, extreme durability, flight, space travel, self-repair capabilities, and high-tech weaponry. Rom was even granted Galador’s greatest weapon, the Neutralizer, allowing him to banish the Wraiths into Limbo forever. The series largely followed Rom's ongoing battle with the Wraiths, which eventually brought him to planet Earth.
In 2016, IDW acquired the license to launch a new ongoing series with Rom the Spaceknight. The character was reintroduced through a Free Comic Book Day issue then the series ran through 2018 as a part of the Hasbro Comic Book Universe. The next series, Rom: Wire Raiths, began in 2020 and was written by Chris Ryall with art by Luca Pizzari, Guy Dorian, and Sal Buscema.
Now, Rom is returning to Marvel in a new collaboration with Hasbro. The partnership will start by reprinting Marvel’s first run in Rom: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus Vol. 1, which will be on sale in January 2024. The volume will include Rom #1-29 and Power Man and Iron Fist #73. Additionally, a Rom #1 facsimile edition will arrive in comic shops in September 2023.