Guest columnist and Rom maven CHRIS RYALL takes you on a tour…
The news Monday was heard throughout the world of comics: Marvel will be releasing omnibus editions reprinting the cult-classic ’70s-’80s series Rom, based on the beloved electronic toy now owned by Hasbro. There will also be a Facsimile Edition of Issue #1 coming in September. (Grab it. A Near Mint original recently sold on eBay for $81.)
Anyway, I don’t think there was anyone happier on Earth or Galador to hear the news than comics exec Chris Ryall of Image Comics’ imprint Syzygy. He wrote Rom during his IDW days and was exceptionally quick in putting together a 13 COVERS gallery just for you, the 13th Dimension reader. (By the way, Micronauts is getting the omnibus/Facsimile Edition treatment too! Click here!)
By CHRIS RYALL
Rom #1. Where it all began: with the third or fourth attempt at Rom #1’s cover (after attempts by Mike Netzer and Ed Hannigan didn’t pass muster with Jim Shooter, who said he just wanted a “The Day the Earth Stood Still” riff). Enter fledgling artist Frank Miller, who quickly penciled a pass that Shooter approved of. Then it was over to Joe Rubenstein to ink it and the series was off and running!
Rom #3. Miller would return again for a few more covers, and while #17 gets more attention for its X-Men cameos, Issue #3’s cover with its crisp Terry Austin inks is the better image.
Rom #8, 9, 12 and 19. It feels wrong to leave off even one of Michael Golden’s Rom covers, since they’re all uniformly fantastic (the colors and composition of Issue #11, which I didn’t include here, are amazing) and yet I had to try to leave proper room for other artists to be represented as well. But Golden’s covers are a standout, and these five are the best. There’s a compelling argument to be made that Golden was the best Bronze Age cover artist Marvel had and these covers all provide ample evidence why.
Rom #36. Interior artist/co-creator Sal Buscema drew the first 50-some issues of the series, plus a couple annuals and Rom’s appearance in The Incredible Hulk #296, and yet, confoundingly, he was only ever given one Rom cover. So while there might have been more dynamic covers on this series, Sal nevertheless deserves inclusion for his one and only. It’s a nice image on its own but even better for me personally, it’s got a purple background, my favorite backing color. Someday, I’ll try to convince 13th Dimension to let me share the 13 best covers with purple backgrounds. (Bring it, Chris! — Dan)
Rom #38. Artist Gene Day left us far too soon, and pretty much every page or cover he touched is a reminder of what a loss it was. His cover here is a wonderful bit of artistic symmetry and manages to fit a lot in without looking crowded. He even managed to make the rather silly formless Dire Wraiths look menacing.
Marvel Two-in-One #99. John Byrne contributed a few covers to this series but, despite a couple that feature fun Alpha Flight cameos, none stood out as impressively as the Byrne-inks-over-Ed-Hannigan-pencils of this issue. Which will surely be included in an upcoming Omnibus since it was written by Rom series co-creator Bill Mantlo and tells an important piece of Rom’s overall story.
Rom #48. Ian Akin and Brian Garvey followed Joe Sinnott’s run as inker over Sal’s pencils and they brought a stylish and moody feel to the art, which suited the storyline well. The inking duo also contributed a handful of covers of their own. Issue #43, with a spectral, human Rom emerging from his armor, is more striking but this one made the cut simply for being a solid example of the classic “hero quits” cover. Every proper comics series needs one of those, along with a good floating-head cover (see below), so this was a good sign that Rom had fully arrived as a notable comic-book series.
Rom #47. It’s hard to narrow down the best Bill Sienkiewicz cover to just one pick, since he too produced many Rom gems (see also #46, 53, 54, 68 and Annual #2). But I love the stark, striking nature of this cover that introduced the Walt Simonson-designed, sorcery-based sister-Wraiths. In the wrong hands, this Wraith version was likewise sort of silly but Bill made ’em scary as hell.
Rom #66 and #75. P. Craig Russell brings a sense of elegance to everything he does and these covers follow suit. His cover for #66 saw Rom leaving Earth for good in a striking image populated by the ever-classic “floating heads” of the various superheroes he met along the way. And then #75 is a beautiful and worthy finale to Rom’s story and his comic series.
Of course, narrowing the list to 13 means I had to exclude other great covers by Golden and Sienkiewicz, plus solid images by Byrne, Miller and Austin, Guice, Joe Jusko, Bob Layton, Mike Zeck, and some good stuff from Al Milgrom, Akin & Garvey, and others. But the lure of seeing all of those in the coming omnibus books is just one more reason to be excited about all of this material getting collected in deluxe hardcover books at long last, right?
— Classic ROM Returns to MARVEL With OMNIBUS Collections and Facsimile Edition. Click here.
— First ROM, Now MICRONAUTS Is Getting MARVEL OMNIBUS Collections. Click here.
Chris Ryall is the co-owner/publisher/editor of Image imprint Syzygy and was the co-writer and driving force of the ROM comic revival in 2017. Click here for his fab Substack.
May 24, 2023
May 24, 2023
So many great covers from this run, So hard to choose just 13.
May 24, 2023
Don’t go teasing us about “13 Great Purple Backgrounds”…make it happen! As for Golden’s covers…anything with his pencils I purchased.
May 25, 2023
These covers make pretty epic selections for sure.
May 26, 2023
The first one #1 cover is beautiful and epic. I had it and want that issue back! Great character and story, waiting for live or even animated movie.
June 7, 2023
i had no idea Rom had any Byrne covers (he seems to make every character his own, and look great), and there needs to be an artist’s edition of JUST Golden covers. Golden is such a unique artist as is P C Russell.
Speaking of purple covers, i have a print of Superman #144 (from Kinko’s of all places) on my wall…its a great purple cover.