PREVIEWS: "Mighty Thor," "Star Wars," & More Marvel Comics On Sale February 17, 2016
No, it’s not a dream. That’s actually set of four hardcover volumes of Marvel’s Rom: Spaceknight. Unfortunately, however, your chances of getting one remain slim.
Despite a cult following, it’s been nearly 30 years since any Rom: Spaceknight has been published. The issue comes down to licensing, and Marvel’s agreement with Parker Brothers (now a Hasbro subsidiary) expired 1986. Certain elements created for the toy-inspired comic, originated by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema, remain with Marvel, but the name and signature armor are off-limits — to both new work and reprints.
For years comic-book and toy fans have been clamoring for the resurrection of ROM: The Space Knight, cyborg enemy of the Dire Wraiths, star of his own Marvel series, and poor-selling action figure. Now it appears his return may be imminent.
Toy Ark catches that Hasbro has filed to trademark ROM for “toy action figures and toy robots convertible into other visual toy forms,” signaling the manufacturer’s plans to rescue the clunky, and noisy, silver doll from late-1970s obscurity.
Released in the United States in 1979 by Parker Brothers (now a Hasbro subsidiary) amid a wave of science fiction popularity that followed the success of Star Wars, ROM was a commercial failure, fulfilling Time magazine’s prediction that the cheaply made figure would “end up among the dust balls under the playroom sofa.”
“Rom is a spaceman doll whose computer memory gives it a disappointingly narrow range of behavior,” the magazine wrote. “It breathes heavily (one of its better effects), buzzes, twitters and flashes its lighted eyes, and sounds ominous gongs, one for good and two for evil. The trouble with this Parker Bros. homunculus is that it looks as if it should be able to use its arms and legs like a true robot, and it can’t.”