Ultimate ROM 05 – Arc 01: Arrival

February 13th, 2006 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Allow me to reiterate something. This wouldn’t necessarily have to be an Ultimate book. Instead it could be a Marvel Max book, so instead of deformed Chitauri they’d again be Dire Wraiths, and similarly, the other names would remain the same. The reason for this being some of the subject matter. The Wraith/Chitauri have made deals with dark, abominable powers. Essentially, I’d intend to emphasize some of the black magic aspects that were touched on in the original series. Tentacled horrors, gods best left nameless, that sort of thing. In the original series, the wraiths were able to summon Deathwings with a spell/ritual. Imagine instead if in order to summon a Deathwing you needed to lay forth a hecatomb (look it up, it’s pretty sick) of human sacrifices, and even then, you only had a weapon that you could maybe point in the direction of where you wanted it to kill.

The most unspeakable thing the Dire Wraiths did in the original series was to deposit a magical plague in the blood supply of a hospital. The result of this was that anyone who was a recipient of the hospital’s blood supply turned into a hideous, gibbering monster. For this series, this would merely be a starting point of just how depraved the Wraith/Chitauri are.

For now, let me outline the first story arc.

Arc 1, Arrival

Rom arrives on Earth several miles outside of Clairton. Brandy is the first human to witness his planetfall, and is nearly killed as Rom crashes to earth like a meteorite in order to avoid being detected by Wraith technology. Rom saves her from death, but not after scanning her. While Rom’s unexplained actions terrify and puzzle Brandy, she doesn’t yet have any reason to believe he means anyone harm. Rom flies off, and Brandy returns to Clairton in order to let others know what she has seen, even though she’s sure that she might not be believed.

Rom has come and gone by the time Brandy gets back to town, and she is greeted by a scene of carnage and destruction. Two long-time residents of Clairton were disintegrated by Rom, and the vehicles they were driving reduced to flaming wrecks. Fortunately, everyone else in the area managed to escape injury. The Sherriff alerts his men, and most of the able-bodied men in the area are deputized and given some kind of weaponry. The Governor is called, and amazingly enough, immediate and overwhelming assistance from the National Guard is promised immediately. It would seem that everyone at each level of government is taking the threat posed by Rom very seriously.

Brandy returns home, exhausted and terrified. She hopes that Steve, her fiancee, is okay and makes it home safely. However, any sort of respite is quickly forgotten when she discovers that the murdering silver robot that is being hunted is waiting for her in her very house. The hulking cyborg looming backlit over Brandy Clark should be the last panel of the first issue.

The second issue picks up scant minutes after the first. Rom has abducted Brandy and not inserted an anal probe, as there isn’t enough budgeted for the special effects. Instead, Rom grills Brandy in very halting, broken English. The cadence of this should reinforce the falsehood that Rom is a robot. At first, the questioning is very brusque, direct, and even rude. When Brandy hesitates to reply, Rom’s insistence that she answer is terrifyingly direct.

This scene should be interrupted with Steve Jackson finding Brandy’s house broken into in such a manner that leaves little ambiguity as to who did it. He quickly rounds up the sherriff and joins the posse. Eventually they find Rom and Brandy. By that point, Rom’s English has improved dramatically, as his cyborg enhanced mind is quickly absorbing the nuances of the language.

The posse attacks Rom, but mundane firearms pose no threat at all to the Spaceknight. Instead of fighting back, he simply stands between Brandy and those firing at him. Then a shot strikes Rom, and he feels pain. Recognizing the technology of the enemy, Rom bathes the posse in red light. The humans in the group recoil in terror as they fear being disintegrated. The Chitauri in the group recoil as well, but their fear is from being discovered. Rom calls forth his neutralizer and vaporizes the Sherriff, the Deputy, and two of the posse members. The rest flee, except for Steve Jackson, who during the firefight managed to get to Brandy.

Rom confronts Steve, who defiantly dares Rom to do his worst. Rom states that he is not here to slay humans, but to pursue his sworn enemy the (insert name here). He praises Steve for his courage, and reveals that he too loved once. The end of the second issue should be Rom explaining in brief that he was once a man 200 years ago. This should segue into the first of the Saga of the Spaceknights pieces.

The third issue picks up the next morning, with Rom standing guard over Steve and Brandy. Steve is still convinced Rom is a killer, while Brandy’s mind is less made up on the matter. In an attempt to win them over, Rom explains who he is, and why he is on Earth. As a result, more of Rom’s origin is revealed to the reader. This doesn’t really convince either of them, as the story Rom tells is only so much words. Furthermore, Rom is interrupted by the arrival of the West Virginia National Guard, complete APCs, helicopters, and Abrams tanks.

Rom tells Steve and Brandy to flee, stating correctly that when the attack begins, he cannot guarantee their safety. When Steve begs Rom not to kill them, he states that he has no ill intent towards the humans, but that he can smell the Wraiths/Chitauri among them (Brandy and Steve can detect nothing amiss) and that he is sworn to defeat his foe wherever they may be. Steve and Brandy flee, but not so far that they cannot witness the battle.

For the most part its one sided. Again, human weapons are useless against Rom. The Wraith/Chitauri guns hidden in the force are more useful, but again prove insufficient as Rom wrecks the battleforce and dispatches the Chitauri hidden among them with grisly efficiency. Once the last Wraith is dealt with, Rom departs. The casualties are few, and except for the disguised aliens that Rom used his neutralizer against, the injuries are minor.

This issue ends with an unidentified someone (Dr. Rachel Sweet) noticing Steve and Brandy in the presence of Rom, and their later fleeing of the scene.

The fourth issue takes place the next day. Steve and Brandy’s father, John, are at Brandy’s house, boarding up the back door torn out by Rom. Dr. Rachel Sweet arrives after they are finished and John has left. With her are several suited Government types. She asks the couple about Rom, growing frustrated with their inability to give her any concrete information. At several points in the conversation, they are interrupted by Brandy’s dog, Tempest, barking in the back yard. Steve eventually has to leave for work, leaving Brandy with Dr. Sweet.

Eventually, Brandy goes out back to discover what Tempest is barking at. It turns out that Tempest is barking and apparently trying to play with Rom, who was hiding in Brandy’s lattice walled gazebo. This does not go unnoticed as the g-men stand impassively just outside Brandy’s back door. Rom recognizes them for what they are, as does Brandy’s dog, which springs to attack them. Brandy’s dog is grabbed out of midair, and one of the g-men rip its throut out with his teeth. Rom grabs Brandy and flees, explaining that they would surely kill her for even knowing that Rom existed. As Rom takes off holding Brandy, they transform into hellhounds, creatures horrificly twisted by Wraith technoscience. With a psychic howl, they slowly hover and begin to pursue Rom.

Brandy directs Rom to the automotive repair shop where Steve works. Steve is horrified to see Rom, but at least recognizes that Rom has delivered his fiancee unharmed. Rom curses himself for tarrying too long as the hellhounds catch up to them. The third issue ends with the hellhounds phasing through the walls of the shop, about to attack Rom and his two companions.

The fifth issue picks up immediately. Half of the issue is the knock down, drag-out fight between Rom and the Hellhounds. Mostly it is Rom getting knocked down and drug out, as the hellhounds are able to avoid Rom’s blows and neutralized by phasing in and out of reality. They are also able to phase through Rom, disrupting his circuitry and causing him great physical pain. One such attack causes Rom to drop his neutralizer, while one of the hellhounds start to attack Steve and Brandy. Rom turns his back to his weapon to assist the couple, giving the hellhounds the chance to enact their true goal. Two other hellhounds create an energy field around Rom’s neutralizer. Another two hellhounds intercept Rom, preventing him from helping Steve and Brandy. Steve proves his worth by finding a way to kill the one attacking him, while Rom eventually finishes off the other two Hellhounds. The last two disappear with Rom’s neutralizer, leaving him weaponless.

When Rom loudly and perhaps melodramatically laments its loss, Brandy asks him why it was so important. The issue ends with Rom stating that such a weapon could potentially be used to extinguish every living thing in the galaxy.

I’m such a sap for silver-age melodrama. Fortunately, this cliffhanger isn’t the end. One last time I’ll visit just how I’d like to reenvision that greatest of the spaceknights, ROM!

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