Saturday, April 12, 2014
Review: Rom 6
Writer - Bill Mantlo
Artist - Sal Buscema
Colorist - Bob Sharen
Letterer - John Costanza
Editor - Mary Jo Duffy
Cover - Al Milgrom
Story - 4/5: This is another fun and interesting story from Bill Mantlo. Although a reader can easily hop aboard on this issue, Mantlo weaves in story-lines that have been progressing since issue one, increasing the complexity of the plot and advancing several disparate storylines.
The main story is, of course, the story of Rom, Brandy, and Steve. By now, Brandy and Steve are fully on board with what Rom has been saying all along -- that Dire Wraiths are among us, disguised as humans and plotting against the earth. The understand that Rom has not been killing humans, but instead, dispatching Wraiths to Limbo. And they are starting to wonder who else among the people they've gown up with might be an enemy.
But they still have to go on with their lives. It's now Monday morning, and Brandy is due back at work. Therefore, Steve leaves Rom behind in "sleep" mode and takes Brandy to work. While they are gone, Rom dreams of Ray-na, his love from Galador.
As these relatively tame events unfold, we are taken to Project Safeguard, which is supposedly an arm of the U.S. government but is actually controlled by the Wraiths. Here, we get some insight into Wraith culture. We discover that Agent Kraller is referred to as a "second-born," because he is from the generation of Wraiths that were born, not on Wraithworld (which has not yet been officially named to the reader), but on earth. Thus we learn that there is a hierarchy within the Wraiths. Those who came from the stars are "frist-born" and thus higher in the pecking order. Kraller is blamed for his incompetence, and in part this is attributed to his "weaker" status as a second-born. He is executed with barely the blink of an eye by the leaders -- all of whom are "first-borns." Thus, we see the cruelty of the Wraiths even among themselves.
When we return to Clairton, we see the Hell-hounds still on Rom's trail. When they pick it up, they transform from dog-like creatures to bipedal, clawed, cloaked demon-creatures. They are able to turn intangible, making them very difficult to fight. Rom gets into a pitched battle with them, and one of them uses a force field to trap his Neutralizer. Rom is forced, then, to fight hand-to hand.
Luckily for Rom, Steve returns to see the battle being waged in the parking lot of his filling station, and decides to lend a hand. He uses the gas pump to douse one of the hounds in gasoline, and then uses a lighter to burn the hound. Rom and the other hound get tangled in live electrical wiring, but the hound cannot stand the shock and is dispensed with. Rom, unfortunately, has absorbed too much power from the electrical cables, and drops, motionless, to the ground. What is Steve Jackson going to do?
Overall, this is another great story. As usual, Mantlo combines mellifluous narration with snappy dialogue, making the reader want to turn the pages and find out what happens next. His characterization of the major players -- Rom, Brandy, and Steve -- remains strong. And he does a great job with the menacing nature of the Wraiths and both their science and their sorcery.
Art - 4/5: Buscema's art continues to be superb. His Rom has continued to improve in look, becoming very close, by this point, to how he will draw the big Spaceknight for years to come. The penlight eyes have taken on just about the appearance they will have forever after -- with one long point aiming in the direction where Rom is looking, among a set of smaller points. His armor looks smooth and clean, and the inking Buscema does definitely makes Rom look shiny. Buscema, as always, does a good job with background details, special effects, and especially action scenes. No one draws a fight like Sal Buscema.
Cover - 4/5: Cover artist Al Milgrom does another solid job with this issue's cover. The action scene clearly captures the interior's climax, and the hounds and Rom look good. There is also some good detail in the background. However, there are three mistakes. First, the Neutralizer is too small and not shaped correctly. Second, Rom's torso is not drawn properly (Buscema clearly draws the torso piece as coming to a point in the center, but Milgrom's doesn't look that way). And finally, the Hellhound is speaking. Hellhounds are still animals, not sentient beings, and they do not speak. I'm not sure if this was Milgrom's mistake or someone else's, but it detracts from the overall impression of the cover.
Overall - 4/5: Overall, this is another strong outing for the creative team. Mantlo and Buscema are clearly in sync here, and it shows with how well the art and story meld together. There is good characterization, good action, and great dialogue in this issue. And there are some storylines clearly being laid down for issues to come.