Ultimate ROM 06 – Endgame

February 18th, 2006 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

It’s time to wrap things up, kids. In this episode, I’ll wrap up this little ongoing series of articles. Really, by this point, it ought to be a case of ’nuff sed.

The sixth issue picks up a short while later in a top secret U.S. Military installation secretly being run by the Chitauri of the Black Nebula. We see Staff Sergeant Archie Striker of the A Company 1st of the 150th Armored Army National Guard unit being briefed on the nature of the threat. By threat, I mean Rom. Footage of Rom’s nearly effortless destruction of the National Guard unit is shown to him reduntantly, as Archie was a commander of one of the Abrams tanks. Particular emphasis is placed upon those members of the unit vaporized by Rom’s neutralizer.

He is eventually shown two pieces of of Galadoran technology. The first is Rom’s Neutralizer, encased in an energy field. The second is an intact suit of spaceknight cyborg armor. Archie is told that the suit was captured some 20 years previously when it fell to Earth lifeless and inert. This is naturally a lie, as the previous inhabitant, Kharas, a close friend of Rom, was stripped cell by cell from the partially disassembled armor while he was still alive shortly after the disasterous war with Galador.

SSgt. Striker is told a number of lies, each of which is carefully calculated towards one end, to get Striker to volunteer to be a human test subject to be merged with the Galadoran armor. The Chitauri have discovered that not only do Humans and Galadorans look alike, but their genetic make-up is so close as to make them the same species. No answer is given to why this is so at this time. Furthermore, the reason why they have not merged one of their own is because the armor fatally rejects any Black Nebula Chitauri that attempt to bond with it.

The scene returns to Rom, Brandy, and Steve. Rom is sluggish, and slow to respond to the two humans. He has been severely depleted and damaged by the attacks of the hellhounds, and his armor is about to begin emergency regeneration shutdown. Before he can tell the two what is about to happen, Rom collapses, seemingly dead. Brandy and Steve panic, Brandy because she’s beginning to believe that Rom is there to protect them, and Steve if for no other reason than the fact that he’s got a three quarter ton dead alien lying on the floor of his garage.

Brandy convinces Steve, who himself is starting to believe Rom, due to the horrific nature of the hellhounds they’d just fought, that they need to try to revive him in case another attack is imminent. At first they take the approach that Rom is essentially a machine, and try reviving him with the tools at Steve’s shop. When this doesn’t work they load Rom into the back of Steve’s pickup truck, cover him with a tarp, and take him to Brandy’s pharmaceutical company.

Little do they know that they are delivering Rom into the hands of the enemy. When they arrive, they tell one of Brandy’s friends and coworkers what they have and ask for help. The co-worker, being a Chitauri, readily agrees, and the three of them get Rom set up on what is claimed to be test equipment. The real intention is to crack Rom open and see how the armor works, something that wasn’t accomplished with Kharas’ armor.

While Steve and Brandy are worrying over Rom, the co-worker (let’s call her Jenny. It isn’t important, as she won’t be lasting long) calls security. They arrive shortly, and back Brandy and Steve in a corner. Jenny thanks them in a most condescending and patronizing fashion, gleeful that they’ve delivered the “great hunter” into her hands. She then tells the couple that there’s no more reason for them to live, and orders the two security guards (and if you didn’t figure by know that they’re hellhounds, shame on you) to kill them. The last shot of this scene is a closeup of the two cowering in a corner, with a massive shadow looming over them.

The issue immediately cuts to the military installation. SSgt. Striker has grown impatient with the disclaimers, warnings, and briefings, and volunteers for Project Firefall. The last shot of the comic is of Archie, filled with grim determination, swearing to do whatever it takes to dispatch Rom.

The Seventh issue begins where the scene involving Steve and Brandy left off. This time the shot is back further, showing the hellhounds and the human couple all standing in the shadow of what is ostensibly Jenny. As the two hellhounds close in on the couple, a sickening snap is heard. The hellhounds turn to see Rom casting aside a mangled Jenny. “Not while I yet draw breath, filth” Rom spits.

The hellhounds turn to attack. This time Rom is far more ready to fight them, and immediately dispatches one of them using a previously unrevealed ability of his armor, the ability to channel and amplify energy. The other one flees, and being able to phase through the walls, is able to escape. Once the alarm sounds, Rom advises that Brandy and Steve flee, fearing correctly that there are few if any places in Clairton that they’ll be safe. As the three leave the building, the topiary around the pharmaceutical company animates and attacks them. Truthfully, it is no threat to Rom, but it is still deadly to unprotected humans. Rom fights the aggressive herbage so that Steve and Brandy can make their escape. Once the two humans are gone, Rom too makes his departure, although he chooses a different direction to travel.

Shift scene to the same military complex from the previous issue. It is one day after the events of the previous issue. Archie is being briefed on the known capabilities of the Galadoran cyborg armor. Naturally, what he is being told is a mixture of falsehoods and useful information. The main purpose of this scene is to reveal some of the considerable capabilities of the armor to the reader, and to also reveal that on the next day Archie will undergo the surgery that will merge him with the armor.

The rest of this issue is to include a spot called Saga of the Spaceknights. This picks up and expands some of Rom’s narrative from earlier about the history of Galador’s war against the Chitauri. Since this was already covered in detail, I won’t expand upon it here.

The eighth issue begins with Rom searching for his Neutralizer. Several days have passed since the events of the last issue. At first he avoids being detected, but as Rom grows frustrated in his efforts, he makes no effort to hide himself. Once he throws caution to the wind, Rom picks up the distinct energy signature of his Neutralizer. The trail leads him east into Virginia on a direct course for Langley, Virginia. The presence of an unknown object flying at supersonic speeds towards the home of the CIA (not to mention Washington D.C.) draws immediate attention, and several Fighters are dispatched to stop Rom. They don’t stand a chance, with two of them being left behind in Rom’s wake while the other is simply flown through. Rom is quickly lost on radar when he lands, and he makes his way undetected towards the hidden government facility.

Rom easily defeats all of the countermeasures deployed against him, and just as he is about to enter the facility, he is confronted by Archie Striker, now wearing the ultimate product of Project Firefall, the Galadoran cyborg armor.

Cut to the next installment of the Saga of the Spaceknights.

The Ninth issue covers the fight between Rom and Archie Striker. Striker is vicious and relentless in his attacks, but his inexperience means that he’s unable to deal Rom a finishing blow. Rom is initially confused as to why his friend Kharas is attacking him, but quickly learns that Kharas no longer inhabits the armor. However, that revelation is also shocking to Rom, for now he knows that humanity’s resemblance to the Galadorans is far more than cosmetic. Eventually Rom decides that even though he is reluctant to do so, he must end the fight. Though seemingly outgunned thanks to the living fire harnessed by Kharas’ former armor Rom’s far greater experience as a warrior, and more importantly as a spaceknight, telling. Rom is able to turn the living fire against Striker, and is even able to peel back the faceplate to reveal a grim truth. Archie has become inextricably merged with the armor. Opening the armor has much the same effect as ripping someone’s face off. Even worse, this doesn’t kill Striker, although it does incapacitate him.

Rom takes little satisfaction with his victory, and instead of lingering over Striker, leaves to retrieve his weapon only to find that during the fight the neutralizer has been moved far away. Rom rockets off in hot pursuit of Galador’s ultimate weapon, leaving Striker in a broken heap.

Cue Saga of the Spaceknights part 3.

The 10th issue begins with the 4th part of the Saga of the Spaceknights. Once that ends we return to the action.

Rom has chased down the energy signature of the Neutralizer, this time taking more care not to be detected. As he penetrates into the Chitauri facility on the outskirts of Clairton, his is attacked by a Watchwraith(or whatever it is I decide to call it). The fight is a particularly difficult one, as Rom without his neutralizer is incapable of dealing a killing blow to the construct. The fight rages through the facility (notably abandoned and completely lacking in Galadoran neutralizer) and out into the town. Once in the town, the Watchwhatever goes bezerk and starts randomly attacking everything around it. Rom eventually defeats it by latching onto it and the freezer coils in a grocery store, creating a deep freeze feedback loop that locks up both the watchwraith and shortly thereafter, Rom, who is unable to let go by virtue of having reduced his temperature to absolute zero.

For the first time we see the story told literally from Rom’s point of view as he sees the watchwraith shut down and his own vision fade to black. His last thoughts are not of Rayna, but of his mission, a fact that he will regret later.

Fade in to Archie Striker. He awakens to find himself immobilized on a racklike device. He is surrounded by several Chitauri, several of whom are in their natural forms. One of those present in their human disguise is Rachel Sweet. They are bickering back and forth about the failure of the project, with most of the recriminations being directed towards Sweet. Things seem to be going badly for Sweet, despite the fact that she’s in possession of the Neutralizer, but she’s got an ace up her sleeve, and as such keeps her cool.

The narrative switches over to Archie Striker at this point, with his dawning realization at how badly he’s been betrayed. Not only has he been unknowingly in league with monsters, but he’s also bonded with alien armor that he can feel eating away at his body as it merges its systems with his internal organs. His despair grows complete as Rom is wheeled into the room, rime-covered and clamped into a device identical to the one Archie is locked in. Archie’s horror grows as he realizes that the Black Nebula Chitauri have won, and no one on earth knows that the battle has already been lost.

Cue the last Saga of the Spaceknights story for this arc.

The 11th Issue picks up with Rom regaining consciousness strapped into the rack device. Rachel Sweet gloats to the other Chitauri over her triumph: the capture of their most feared and hated enemy. Since Striker failed so miserably, she decides to simply kill him, and then follow up by killing Rom in the most horrible way possible: by infecting him with the wraith plague and allowing him to die slowly both in body and soul. However, they guarantee Rom that he’ll live long enough for them to unlock the secrets of the Neutralizer and harness its power for themselves.

Archie is the first to be injected with a new version of the plague. It does not work as expected due to the cyborg armor, but it does begin to kill him. Rom breaks free of his imprisonment just before he is about to be injected, partly because each suit of spaceknight armor has significant differences from the other, and the device used for Rom was designed to hold Kharas’ armor, and also because Rom is just plain more badass than Striker. Rom tosses aside Sweet and frees Striker, who is visibly deteriorating due to the altered plague injected into him. During this, Rachel Sweet makes her escape.

Archie, now that he can see the Chitauri in their real forms thanks to the spaceknight armor, now understands just what Rom is on earth to do, and also learns of the significance of the Neutralizer. As his dying act, he expends all of the energy remaining in his armor to destroy the barrier surrounding the Neutralizer. Rom retrieves his neutralizer just in time, as he is beset upon all sides by the tyranny of evil things. Heh.

Insert big ass knock down drag out fight involving a shining spaceknight and horribly betentacled eldritch things. Rom wins.

Cut to West Virginia. Brandy and Steve are at Brandy’s father’s house. They are finally relating what happened to them to an incredulous audience. Brandy’s father blames Steve for filling his daughter’s head full of nonsense. He orders Steve to leave, and as he opens the door to show him out, he sees Rom standing just outside.

Cut back to the now wrecked facility outside of Langley. A voice offpanel is describing a skewed version of events detailing how a previously unknown alien that matches Rom’s description completely trashed the base and killed most of the people in it. We see a leather jump boot standing in trash on the floor. The next panel continues the skewed narrative and shows the boot stepping away. The third panel continues this trend, showing a large red and grey metal boot stepping into panel. The fourth panel shows Samuel L. Fury delivering the narrative.

The comic, and the arc, ends with Ultimate Captain America, with Iron Man standing behind him, saying “Don’t worry, we’ll get this thing. No one gets away with this kind of crap on my watch.”

That’s it folks. That’s what I’d do if I suddenly found myself in control of a creative team, a liscence from Hasbro, and the go-ahead from Marvel. If you’d like to comment, critique, or WTF?! this please, feel free to do so. You can email me at rraphael@bellsouth.net

If you’d like to throw large sacks full of money at me and offer exclusive writing contracts, I’d also be willing to entertain such deals.

Not that I’m holding my breath or anything.

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