Friday, October 22, 2010

Lethal Laserium: Rom's Second Coming

The disguised Wraith who is director of the Laserium Corp. took a moment, when Archie Stryker attempted an attack on Rom with a laser that actually caused the cyborg pain. Quickly he contacted a police chief there in Lansing, VA, who passes notification to the others, some of whom arrive on the scene to overhear Stryker cry out that he will do anything to stop Rom from killing others. He’s seen Rom’s enormous strength, ripping off the vault door to the entrapped director.


Why Stryker, who may have had to kill the director anyway in the complications of an armed robbery, would be so motivated to help when he was not attacked himself and his men were not killed, I am not sure, even though as a Wraith pawn he will become fairly interesting, soon! It is hard to set up complex characterization for a supporting cast in these 17 page stories, anyway, nor is Mantlo inclined to subtleness here.


With Rom streaking skyward into the flamelit night now accused of arson, we join Steve Jackson in the walk up to the Clark porch, where Brandy’s parents greet him eagerly, as their daughter’s story and stance of communicating with Rom sets their nerves on edge. Dr. Peters packs his medical bag, saying she’s suffered a mild shock, but Brandy insists no delusion’s responsible for the truth.



Steve recalls with disgust Rom’s arrival in the midst of Clairton: the panic, the apparent “death ray” and the smoky (apparent) demise of two townspeople they both knew, before sweeping up Brandy and flying away. He’s thankful the National Guard saved her, but she angrily tells all that Rom is here to save us from the disguised Dire Wraiths, who tried to destroy his home world. Upset mother or no, Brandy feels she’s connected with a tortured man inside the apparent monster; nonetheless, Steve’s dutifully sent to her side to dissuade her. A kiss, however, reveals nothing is going back to normal, and soon, Brandy and her dog Tempest wander out to the gazebo beside a moored boat, as she asks herself how it is she believes a creature from the stars.

Silently, she questions her sanity: Rom stands, gun-metal grey, within the gazebo! Her heart prods her to speak where her mind is blank. His silence, however, floods with two century-old memories as a man, holding a woman---a thought unrevealed, as he asks her to inform him on this strange new world.


She hides her hurt way beneath fallen arms, as she listens: “a hardened criminal,” upon tracking a Wraith to its lair, “displayed misguided valor by attempting to save the wraith from my vengeance!” “He probably thought you were killing a fellow human being, Rom!” She acknowledges the reality of the weapon she saw the Guardsman use, despite the insanity of all else. Steve stares on, spying wildly from the bushes; the word “monster,” used by Stryker, crosses his mind.


Above Washington D.C., a real monster, the raven-form Wraith, flies into the pre-set corridor, whose safeguards open to allow her into the meeting room, with its imperious table set before an Earth background, seemingly menaced by a Kirby-esque device extended in the foreground. Now the raven transforms into the sinister phone operator with long, chiseled face. One of her counsel here is referred to as “Senator” by a Wraith S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, she refers to the limbo banishment, mistaken as slayings.

They coordinate efforts with concern, cold calculation, and upraised fists, creepy shadow puppets before the screen of the globe. Meanwhile, Steve’s telling Brandy run for the house, and calls Rom a monster; this provokes Rom to summon his Analyzer from subspace, and without a word he scans the panicking human. His menacing aspect is born of jealousy, but terrified Steve is unharmed. Now, the siren wail of the police he’s summoned arrives. The Clarks rush out stunned and again call Rom “monster” while Steve defies Brandy’s request to negotiate. Rom offers to depart with an apology, while Brandy encourages him to remain, explain. The Clairton Co. police chief Rogers pulls up with Stryker in tow (?), who identifies Rom from the Laserium. Now “chief” pulls out a bizarre object and drops veiled hints of preparations for Rom, passing it off as “top secret!” The device hooks into his short wave radio, as Rogers orders his men to fire at the spaceknight, who stands, hand up lifted, offering peace. (Doggy! Run!!!)



Their gunfire does nothing but upset Brandy and kill her dog. Grief, frustration: Rom turns to the innocent gazebo in mid-speech and rips its top right off the supports. Here Mantlo writes of Rom’s sacrifice of a peaceful life to become this powerful being, as he accents the point made by the hurled gazebo. At the chief’s orders, a special “bazooka blaster” is produced to blast the “robot,” while the men continue their surprise at such “Star Wars-type” weaponry. [IMG]http://i51.tinypic.com/2e3mihd.jpg[/IMG]

Hurt, Rom flies up, then smashes the weapon before the fleeing officers, while Steve restrains Brandy.
Now the siren, via Wraith technology, becomes a weapon, a “sonic shatterer” that pains Rom greatly, to Brandy’s continued concern and fright. This puzzles Steve considerably. Rom resists, and advances on the siren. Smashing it, he then lifts the automobile, and gives a peak at the eloquent Rom to come: “I have heard the call of comets, flown through the music of the spheres! What is your sonic-shatterer compared to that?” Now he trains his analyzer upon the Wraiths assembled, revealing human Stryker cringing and a hissing Chief Rogers. He rips open off the door and flings Stryker free, who interprets this as “like I’m not even worth killing!”
The Wraith’s begging angers Rom further as he flings the car, then summons his Neutralizer to open the gate to Limbo; the smoking car fumes soon in the lake—another apparent murder. Rom turns to his accusers, sorry for the grief brought to his one friend. The war allows no room for friendship or love, and so without a word, he takes flight towards the hope of forgetfulness. For Archie Stryker, however, the one value left to his life, after seeing two fellow human beings slain, rests with putting an end to Rom, Spaceknight.
#3? Just picked it up in exchange for rice cakes (didn’t recall big bag, brought remainder of small) and 1$. Have What If? Nova now, too!

Read Only Musings on Stryker, Brandy and Steve might be interesting; the ingrained Wraiths do make his job hard. Take it as a whole though with 2 & 3.

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