Comic Book history was made today at the NYCC 2015. A long fan awaited character is making a comeback and he’s bringing friends along but it’s not where we had all hoped but it could be even better than that. First, a little bit of history.
A long time ago in time for Christmas, Scott Dankman, Richard C. Levy, and Bryan L. McCoy created an interactive board game about a space warrior who fights evil. Parker Brothers rushed it to production and BAM there was an instant hit. The game/ action figure set a record precedent for the game company. The warrior was called ROM and he even appeared on Time Magazine’s December 10, 1979 cover.
The toy went on to inspire a comic book published by Marvel Comics and written by Bill Mantalo and art provided by Sal Buscema. The comic launched at the tail end of the same year the toy saw release. The comic was an instant hit and it even outlasted the toy, seeing publication for 6 years from December 1979 to February 1986.
ROM has remained a mainstay in the hearts of fans. With Marvel proving that they too still loved ROM but within the confides of the United States Patent and Copyright Laws. The ability to keep the huge part ROM’s story played in the history of the Marvel Universe a rights controversy had arisen. Marvel owned rights to ROM’s enemies the Dire Wraiths and the Space Knights as well as ROM’s human form. (all spoilers from ROM the comic series which ran 75 issues, 4 annuals, a spin-off series and countless appearances in other books) Reprinting ROM’s inclusion in the Marvel Universe has been tough. His brief cameo in Uncanny X-Men 187 has been permitted reprinting. Along with his entries in the Essential Marvel trade paperbacks for the original Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and it’s sequels. However ROM has been omitted from ROM the cover of the collection.
A few of ROM’s appearances in other comics cannot see reprints in trades such as Power Man and Iron Fist #73, Marvel Two-in-One #99. ROM #72 which was a Secret Wars II crossover has been omitted from the Secret Wars II Omnibus. In other instances appearances there are heavy edits such as in Incredible Hulk #296 have ROM removed from the entire issue upon reprinting. This has also left Marvel unable to reprint the whole ROM series on its own as well.
For years Marvel Comics as well as other interested parties have tried to gain the rights to the character however many Copyrights pitfalls have prevented such endeavors from occurring. Such as who owns how much of ROM? Parker Brothers was bought by Tonka in 1987 but Tonka was bought by Hasbro in 1991 making Parker Brothers property of Hasbro but how much of ROM is owned by the toy giant and his original creators? ROM has been a rights issue nightmare for years.
To say it lightly, ROM in comics has been a Holy Grail for publishers. That ended today.
Friday, October 9, 2015 IDW announced at their NYCC Panel that they plan on publishing both Micronauts and ROM the Space Knight this coming year in 2016!
While no real detailed news has come forth yet, we do know a few things.
Micronauts will be written by Cullen Bunn and art by David Baldeon to launch next year, which we already knew from earlier panels. But ROM the Space Knight by Christos Gage & Chris Ryall (writing) and David Messina & Paolo Villamelli (art) is the shining moment of today’s panel. Also, ROM will be one of IDW’s offerings for Free Comic Book Day to launch the new series.
Chris Ryall is the Editor-in-Chief for IDW and the biggest ROM fanboy to grace this Earth going as far to commission a 4 volume hardback trade set for the series itself. I think the property has finally found a good home that will treat it right.
Both ROM the Space Knight and Micronauts will see print from IDW during the later end of 2016. Speculation has now also arisen of new ROM and Micronauts toys from Hasbro since the two companies have renewed their 10 year-long relationship. Fan boys excitement is now at an all time high!