Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rom #3 cover by Frank Miller

Rom, Spaceknight
#3 Writer Bill Mantlo Artist Sal Buscema Editor Jo Duffy E-i-C Shooter

At first flip, this issue has all the 70s problems with flashbacks in place of developments, stretching the gruel thin, plotwise, to set up Rom’s confrontation with Stryker/ Firefall, whose training and indoctrination gets as much space as the hero.

On the plus side, no early Rom cover gets further from the toy or better illustrates the Rom/ Wraith struggle than this Frank Miller/ Terry Austin piece!

It’s very similar to modern middle chapters; the one complete story is the transformation of Stryer to Firefall. The emphasis on developing the villain also helps spotlight the Wraiths in a capacity other than simply talking amongst themselves and catching the Limbo train. The recaps and simplistic evil of the villains, along with the toy origins of Rom, must’ve worked together to give the impression of “kid’s book” mentioned in later letter columns regarding these early chapters. On the other hand: a lot of readers were kids, naturally! I’ll bet if we can revisit the mentality by which all this is fresh and we haven’t seen it done---if we put aside its unremarkable plot in relation to the many Rom stories to come---we can rely on Sal to render a fairly moody, atmospheric tale that finally sets up a foe with tragic dimensions and comparable powers.

Jo Duffy was gracious enough, in personal correspondence, to give Bill and Sal all the credit for innovations in finding the voice, suggesting her enthusiasm and “wouldn’t it be cool if...?” background role as purely supplementary to the team doing their best. Her memories predominate with Bill’s enthusiasm and the buzz among Bullpenners of the day.

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