“No time to rest… or to mourn the dead. I guess every war has to have its casualties… doesn’t it?”
Along with the rest of the police force, officer Artie Packer has been barred from discussing what they witnessed on that desert road the night before. But, darn it, he just needs to tell somebody, so he swings by Steve Jackson’s auto shop. No sooner is he wondering why there’s a huge hole in the wall does he discover the lifeless body of Rom draped over a hydraulic car lift, Steve doing his best to seal the Spaceknight’s wounded armor with a torch.
“Dogs are animals – and all animals are afraid of fire, right? Right! Okay, I’ve soaked him with the best burning fuel there is – gasoline! Now to ‘Flick my Bic’!”
Dawn blooms the day after the adventures of the last two issues. Steve’s van arrives at his Auto Repair shop and he and Brandy quickly sneak Rom into the garage. The humans, exhausted by events, quickly eat a few burgers while Rom recharges his circuits through a light socket, then shuts down into Rest Mode so as to repair. Steve walks Brandy to her job, and both briefly encounter Artie Packer, a local officer who spins a wild story about what the cops saw on the road the night before.
“I am no sorcerer, Dweller! But the elders of my world saw fit to arm me with Galador’s greatest weapon – the Neutralizer! A weapon which can shatter! And which can sear with seething flames! Thus, I answer fire with fire!”
It’s still night on that road just outside of Clairton, West Virginia. Brand, Steve, and Rom huddle in the woods while police comb through the wreckage from last issue’s battle. Rom isn’t sure if these people are human or Dire Wraith, but he can’t risk using his Neutralizer without giving away his position and endangering Brandy and Steve. As he looks to Brandy wrapped in Steve’s arms, Rom thinks back to the day he volunteered to become a Spaceknight, when his girlfriend Ray-Na confronted him over the choice to give up his humanity and their love.
“Do you feel the pain, human? Do your senses scream as I strike time and again at the armor which you thought was only lifeless metal?”
Rom and Firefall (Archie Stryker) erupt out of the underground complex and into the West Virginia night sky, locked in a furious battle as Firefall unleashes the Living Flame of Galador and Rom debates the consequences of using his Neutralizer on a misguided human. On the road below, Brandy’s questions to the federal agents who took her into custody are ignored. She quickly realizes from their reactions to Rom’s battle in the sky that they’re Dire Wraiths. When she goes for the wheel, they take her out with a lungful of chloroform. They don’t realize that her boyfriend Steve is rapidly catching up on the road behind them.
“We possess not our full power here! In human guise, with no weapons, we must fight as humans do – without benefit of our Wraith sorcery! We cannot hope to defeat Rom!”
“True, Wraith! Perhaps the truest words your lying lips have ever spoken!”
In Washington, DC, the head Wraiths – Senator Carlisle, General Sutherland, S.H.I.E.L.D. Ageant Kraller, Psychologist Rachael Sweet – are again assembled, watching footage of Rom’s encounter with the National Guard. Archie Stryker, still in cuffs and flanked by Wraith cops, is still raging, still unaware that the beings Rom fought, the beings Archie is currently among, aren’t human. The group plays up Archie’s past as a Korean War vet and offers him the opportunity to help his government and right his recent criminal wrongs by destroying Rom.
“Steve, you’ve got to stop the police! Tell them your call was a mistake…!”
“Like fun I will!”
Mobster Archie Stryker and his gang break into the labs of the military contractor Laserium Corp., kidnap the CEO, and plot to steal whatever they find in the triple-sealed vault buried deep in the building. What they don’t expect is for Rom to suddenly appear on the scene. To their surprise, Rom has no interest in Stryker or his activities, and is instead after the CEO, who is quickly revealed by Rom’s Analyzer to be a wraith. Again, since he’s the only one who can see beneath the disguise, Rom is caught off guard when Stryker, giving into a bit of buried humanity as he tries to save a “fellow human” from a “murderous alien”, latches onto a nearby prototype laser weapon and gives Rom a zap. Rom recognizes Wraith tech in the beam and the CEO Wraith quietly confirms that his people are converging on Earth and rapidly advancing the native technology so they can once again rise up and invade Rom’s homeworld of Galador. Rom escapes the beam, Neutralizes the CEO, and takes off. Stryker’s gang escapes, but he stays behind, lost in his rage at the alien being who appeared to vaporize a man before his eyes. The mobster shares this with the police who arrive and take him away in cuffs, unaware the Police Chief is himself a Dire Wraith.
Run and hide, little ones. Somebody allowed Noel to write for yet another blog. *evil laugh*
Welcome to Noel’s Knoll, where I’m going to revisit and/or complete shows, comics, etc., that left a strong impression on me in the past. I’m starting with the Marvel comic series Rom: Spaceknight, which ran for 75 issues from 1979 to 1986. I’ve read the first 40 or so of those issues in the past, but held off completion until I could amass the entire collection and loop back for a full read-through. Serendipity called as Made of Fail debuted this site just after I got my hands on that final stray issue.