Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Omitted material: Power Man and Iron Fist 73

Missing from Essential Power Man and Iron Fist volume 1 is issue #73, which features an encounter with the licensed character Rom. It is written by Mary Jo Duffy and drawn by Greg LaRocque.

Rom is a toy that I only vaguely remember seeing in the Action Man catalogue. He was released as a standalone toy in the States; an action figure with light up features and weapons. He was imported to the United Kigdom by Palitoy to be part of their spaceman line of Action Man figures in the early 1980s but in general the toy wasn't a success. However there was a tie-in Marvel series that lasted seventy-five issues and several annuals, and the character made many appearances in other Marvel titles.

As I previously suspected this issue is the missing link in the subplot about the relationship between Colleen Wing and Bob Diamond, showing how the two get together for the first time. But it's also the first part of a crossover with Rom's own title. Here we get a glimpse of just how terrifying the alien Spaceknight can seem to humans as he lands on the streets of New York and then starts pointing weird lights at them before shooting a select few with a ray gun, leaving just ashes on the street. Power Man and Iron Fist get called in by first the pimp of a victim and then by the Fantastic Four and take on Rom only to discover the truth - he is destroying alien invaders called Dire Wraiths who have infiltrated human society. Such is their level of influence that they're able to suppress many reports about Rom, preventing most humans from discovering the truth. There's an inevitable battle owing to the initial misunderstanding before all three heroes join forces against a group of Wraiths and then agree to work together further over in Rom's own title.

As is often the case with small crossovers, the opening part is largely a set-up to get the various players working together before the main action elsewhere and so this issue can seem a little light on plot. But instead we get some quite good horror as we experience Rom from the perspective of the unfamiliar, and it's a chilling sight. There are some intriguing moments such as when Rom's Analyser can't scan Power Man and later the Neutraliser cancels Danny's iron fist, showing the Spaceknight to be a truly formidable force. By this stage Rom had come a long way beyond his humble toy origins and works well here. Unfortunately this does slightly sideline the actual stars of the series but overall the issue keeps true to the book's general direction and makes the most of the unfamiliar.

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