The Third Return of Rom
(That Never Happened)
Up until August 2010, all you could find on this page was some second-hand information on the Benny R. Powell/Jim Calafiore proposal, shepherded by Marvel editor Mark Bernardo, for a Rom revival in 1998. (You can still find that info below.) Then Mr. Powell happened to stumble upon it and contact me. Here is the short interview that resulted.
Rom, Spaceknight Revisited: Were you a fan of Rom back in the day?
Benny R. Powell: I was a fan of parts of it. I really enjoyed the toy, and a lot of the stuff revolving around the characters was amazing stuff with lasting impact on the Marvel Universe. I just felt like they kept crapping on them because they didn't know what to do with them. I mean, those poor Galadorians couldn't catch a break! Everyone and their brother kept wiping them out. LOL.
RSR: How did this proposal come about? Did you decide to pitch it on your own or did Bernardo ask for proposals? Did the rights belonging to Parker Brothers/Hasbro affect what was done with it?
Powell: Bear in mind that answers on anything are going back well over a decade at this point, so may be fuzzy. I was working for Tim Tuohy on a Micronauts proposal to try to reacquire that license as well, and he loved it. Tim was also my editor for Marvel Vision magazine, so he asked if I'd also like to do Rom with him and Bernardo. They were apparently having trouble finding a "new spin" on it. Everything they had was "boring." So I came up with what I still feel is a wild and unique spin on the property.
RSR: Did you know anything about the Edkin/Manco proposal that was being done at the same time?
Powell: No I didn't. Though I did know others had tried but apparently weren't "working out." I was called in only a week or so before both Tim Tuohy and Mark Bernardo (along with a large number of editors) were let go in a mass-firing. From what I was told, we were being given the green light... so I believe I was the last one in that process because of our approach. Which didn't technically require the license in order to come out, because it was featuring the human characters, and not the toy line... They were having trouble acquiring the license as I understood it, so that's why we were being picked.
RSR: Could you give an executive summary of your Rom proposal?
Powell: A short summary would be that Rom and his wife basically create a sort of "paranormal investigations" agency as a front to help gather data on what precisely makes earth able to defend itself? It's a close examination of why good triumphs over evil, what defines heroes, and how to ultimately harness those positive aspects. Humor was going to play a large part in the series, because that's just my style of writing (as can be seen in my daily webcomic at WaywardSons.net). There was also a large sub-plot involving government conspiracies, that would involve a new shadow organization that catalogs alien activity within the Marvel Universe.
Overall I was very proud of the concepts, and would someday love to explore it. Maybe someday I can return to Marvel and do it, because that project remains one of my biggest regrets having never come to fruition. Jim is an amazing talent, and would have done a fantastic job on the artwork, that's for certain. And Tim and Mark were great guys. Their departure was absolutely Marvel's loss.
RSR: Since you were featuring the human characters, what was the purpose of Califiore's redesigns of Rom?
Powell: As I understood it, they were going to try for the license at first. If that didn't work, the designs would have been modified so as not to have any legal issues. But Rom (the human) was going to have armor of sorts. Rather than being a humanoid mind in an android body, this was going to be sub-dermal nano-tech armor that would allow him to morph into his Spaceknight form. So that element would still be there. I should definitely mention that this did indeed have a lot of action as well.
RSR: Have you been able to recycle the proposal as something else, no longer related to Rom?
Powell: No, I think that our approach really only worked for that character. It was a light-hearted approach to xenophobia and the earth's unique position within the Marvel universe. It was the ultimate "outsider-looking-in" type of story that would have given (in my opinion) a sense of wonder and awe to just how precious and special the heroes of earth really are.
RSR: Any parting comments you'd like to make to Rom's fans?
Powell: Well I'm working on an online Webcomic that's been a brainchild of mine for over 15 years, titled Wayward Sons. Rom fans may enjoy it because it mixes Science Fiction and Fantasy the same way that Rom did. Although until you asked me that question, I never thought about that connection. But it just goes to show that I "never say die" when it comes to a good concept. I sincerely hope that someday I might get to write my version of our good Rom: Space Detective.
What follows are the Usenet posts that first made me aware of this proposal. These have been edited for clarity. The discussion originally took place in rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe from Dec 1999 to Jan 2000. You can read the entire discussion at Google Groups.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (DanCSM99) Subject: Re: ROM...Spaceknight Date: 31 Dec 1999 00:00:00 GMT Message-ID: <email@example.com> Newsgroups: rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe z1220 wrote: >I was wondering if anyone has any knowledge of plans to bring back the >silver spaceknight. >There were rumors of two such plans, but they never materialized. >Any info will be greatly appreciated. Thank you... I know of two such proposals, both apparently sheperded by Mark Bernardo, ex Marvel editor and somtimes colorist, co-editor of Blaze of Glory. The Joe Edkin/Leo Manco revival, which didn't have too many ties to the series, since Edkin and Manco were able to convert it to a separate property and shop it around, possibly as part of the DCU or a creator-owned title. It would have taken more of a cyberpunk angle. The Benny R. Powell (Warrior's Way) and Jim Calafiore revival, which was reportedly in the drawing stages, but the dismissal of Bernardo and Tim Tuohy killed the project, though I understand Ruben Diaz was working on it as well. This would ahve taken a more comical/X-Filesish tone: Rom and Brandy discover the Galadoran population was not wiped out and have been hiding underground. To convince his people that it's okay to come up, he travles to earth and sets himself up as a paranormal investigator. --Dan
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (DanCSM99) Subject: Re: ROM...Spaceknight Date: 07 Jan 2000 00:00:00 GMT Message-ID: <email@example.com> Newsgroups: rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe Lee K. Seitz wrote: >So this project is completely dead now due to lack of interest by >publishers? I'm not sure. Edkin and Manco may just publish it on their own. >I think you summarized too much. How does becoming a paranormal >investigator on Earth convince the Galadorians it's safe to return to >the surface of Galador??? > I'm not sure. That's how Benny explained it to me. I'm probably forgetting something. The funny part is Rom would sometimes get hired to investage stuff WE thinkis normal in the MU, like the X-Manison, but Joe Average in the MU would think is weird. And there would be a backplot with the government screwing around with Dire Wraith genetic material. --Dan