Friday, July 3, 2009

In space... no one can hear you sigh.

I have found that many comic fans who dwell -even partly - on the internets, young and old alike, seem to have been united in their love and fervor for "the little toy-comic-title that could".

Of that, I speak of ROM; SPACEKNIGHT, the epic opus of Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema (and later Steve Ditko) along with a treasure trove of guest inkers.

For quite a few years, despite minor cameo appearances and veiled references, fans have been clamoring for a true revival of the title / character.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the comic series, here's a brief recap:
Starting in December of 01979 and going on for a 75-issue run (plus 4 Annuals and guest-starrings in other's titles) ROM : SPACEKNIGHT told the story of a man from the far off planet of Galador (in the Golden Galaxy) who, when his world is beset by the evil, space-faring, shape-shifting, magic-weilding race of the DIRE WRAITHS, volunteers to be the first of many who would sacrifice their humanity to become cyborg warriors; a Spaceknight.
After sending the evil marauders to rout, ROM follows them to Earth, where they have set up a beach-head and wages a war for our world's survival against a race that can shapeshift into anyone, a race that has been here for decades, lying in wait.
Truly, that series was "Secret Invasion" done RIGHT.

Many websites and articles extole the virtues of that series (which holds up as well today as it did when it first started 30 years ago) - even though they mostly universally lambaste the TOY that it was based upon.
(MINE is one of the few places where a glowing, positive review of the toy can be found [HERE])

However, as much as fans of comics and toys BOTH wished a new version of ROM would be released (in comic and/or toy form) all hopes were held at bay by complicated rights' holdings.

Parker Brothers, who created the toy, held rights in limbo, while Marvel let their rights slip when they stopped publishing the comic.
Later, as detailed back in November 02008 [HERE], it was revealed that HASBRO (who now owns most of Parker Brothers holdings - as well as being the current holder for the rights to manufacture the toys and action figures for MARVEL) had filed for renewed rights to ROM: SPACEKNIGHT.

However, as revealed [HERE] on the "ROM BLOG'' (by Lee Seitz - who runs the world's greatest ROM fansite - ROM Spaceknight - Revisited), the rights filing by Hasbro has hit a snag.

Basically, they asked for terms that were far too broad.
(Check out Lee's ROM BLOG post for the specifics)

Also, they ran into another problem, in that the term Spaceknight is a difficult one to win, because Marvel still retains the rights to THAT term, since they had a 2001 mini-series of that name, which dealt with the tale of ROM's sons and their renewed war as Spaceknights.
(Readers of Marvel's space-faring titles like NOVA and ANNIHILATION are familiar with the Spaceknights as well, since they made some brief appearances therein.

The term was also briefly scrawled across the side of a bus in a recent issue of Ghost Rider (# 34) which saw an "Alien Abductee" bus of hippies killed by a demonic trucker.

art from Ghost Rider # 34
Jason Aaron (writer), Tony Moore (artist)

detail of panel

Time is nearly over for Hasbro to re-file.
Any failure to properly comply could very well put the "brakes" on any further ROM: SPACEKNIGHT sightings for us in the near future.

So, at this point, the future of ROM is still in the shadowy realm of Limbo.


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