An Open Letter to Marvel Comics

Dear Marvel,

We’re pals, right? I mean, sure, we’ve had some rough times over the years, but it’s been a pretty solid relationship, so can we make like Cypress Hill and be real for a second?

What the hell, bro?

I refer, of course, to this:



Yes, it’s a solicitation for The Essential Power Man and Iron Fist, and at first glance, that looks like a great idea. It picks up where you’ve left off in both Essential of Luke Cage and Iron Fist, showcasing theiradventures as the greatest team to ever travel to another dimension and fight a guy who flew through space riding a giant green tiger.

But there is a problem here.



It skips an issue, Marvel. And as soon as I saw that, I realized what issue it was. Power Man and Iron Fist #73.



The one with ROM: Spaceknight.


Now look, Marvel, I realize that this one isn’t your fault. The rights to ROM are notoriously screwed up, and I’ve got to believe in my heart that if you could’ve published that issue, you would’ve, but seriously. Even though it isn’t technically legal, don’t you have a responsibility–no, a moral imperative–to include that one?

How can you deny your reading public a comic that opens with the greatest of the Spaceknights rampaging through Harlem and blasting hookers with his space laser?!



Really. You’re going to sit there and not publish that because of publication rights that haven’t made anyone any money in twenty years. Really.

Maybe it’s just that you’ve forgotten how freakin’ awesome this issue really is, and in that case, it’s up to me to remind you. See, while ROM’s crusing through Harlem on his Dread Mission of Cosmic Vengeance and blasting the living crap out of the shape-shifted dire wraiths who hide amongst humanity without bothering to explain to anyone that he’s not really vaporizing innocent citizens, Luke and Danny spend the first part of this Mary Jo Duffy/Greg LaRocque classic at the opening night of Day of the Dreadlox, a play starring the vaguely Chuck Norris-like Bob Diamond, wherein he fights odd little robots that roll around yelling “INCINERATE!

Yes, you read that right: Power Man and Iron Fist attend a play where Chuck Norris fights the Daleks. That alone should be reason enough for this thing to be classified as Essential, and that’s just what happens by page five.

Anyway, as I’m sure you know since it’s what happened whenever two of your characters ran into each other for about forty years, ROM and the Heroes For Hire need to fight before they can get anything accomplished, and it all comes down to A Pimp Named Solace:



Ah, the revenge of an angry man who unknowingly pimped a shape-shifting alien wizard. Like every element of this story, it speaks to all of us, even today… and yet, you would keep it from us.

You would deny us the action



…the pathos



…and the heartbreak



… of this most awesome of team-ups?

I say no! This omission cannot be allowed to stand, Marvel. I mean seriously, didn’t you guys mint up some highly-illegal quarters in flagrant violation of the law? Are you really willing to take on the U.S. Government to promote a Jessica Alba movie, but you won’t risk the wrath of Hasbro to bring us the Heroes for Hire and the Greatest of the Spaceknights, together at last?!

Say it ain’t so, Marvel. Say it ain’t so.

Best of the Best,
Chris Sims



BONUS FEATURE: Join The Revolution!


If you’re like me and you believe that we comics readers deserve and demand the return of Galador’s favorite son–at the very least in the team-up issues–feel free to take up the cause yourself:



61 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Marvel Comics

  1. Lookee Here, Chris is posting, and…
    “Power Man and Iron Fist attend a play where Chuck Norris fights the Daleks.”

    My night just got better. I believe the best part is that it is not a film, but a play.

  2. I still hold out some degree of hope that ROM will appear in Annihilation:Conquest. But the hope fades, especially after seeing this.

    Darn you Joey Q!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. “an angry man who unknowingly pimped a shape-shifting alien wizard”

    How desensitized to this nonsense have I become when that merely states “business as usual”?

  4. Is it possible they’re actually holding off on the ROM issues so they can finally collect them together in an Essential all of their very own? Or could the world not contain that much awesome?

  5. Is it just me, or is telling the pimp “You must put your grief behind you and start again” a little disturbing? “You must start again, by finding a new hoe to make money off of”

    Take THAT, women’s lib.

  6. So, yeah, I knew about ROM vaporizing the alien shapeshifting wizard hookers, but…

    …coupled with the Chuck Norris vs. the Daleks play?

    Well, I need this issue somethin’ fierce…

    Also, how awesome would ROM fighting the Daleks directly be?

  7. Danny Rand’s an idiot – they’ve been working together for 25-odd issues, and he still comes out with “I know you’re upset, but destroying things isn’t going to help!”. That’s LUKE CAGE, ace! THAT’S why this ish is missing – it exposes K’un L’un’s greatest as a dolt. Or maybe Iron Fist has been supplanted by a Dire Wraith…

  8. “Excuse me while I write to the producers of Doctor Who.”

    I think the hook you’ll need to convince the BBC is to mention that K-9 is in fact ROM’s long-lost childhood pet.

  9. Jeff Says:
    “I think the hook you’ll need to convince the BBC is to mention that K-9 is in fact ROM’s long-lost childhood pet.”

    Oh dear God what I wouldn’t give to see that episode. What I wouldn’t give…

  10. So Marvel is reprinting the first appearance of Montenegro, the villainous Balkan Rapeller, but not Rom? Truly, they don’t understand their audience.

  11. Montenegro, the Man From Black Mountain!They stole his quarter and he wants it back!

    That was a /great/ issue.

    Did Montenegro ever appear again?

    Doug M.

  12. My younger bro had a Rom doll…errrrrr….action figure….ummmm…toy.

    Anyway, its sucked almost as much as having one’s shape-shifting prostitute disintegrated before one’s eyes.

    ps: for as much Rom as you want (including the transcript of the promo ad):

  13. Sadly, it also means that when Essential Marvel Two-In-One gets around to publishing issue # 99… it will be omitted as well.



  14. Montenegro popped up once more in PM&IF, in issue #80, and then apparently made a short appearance in a comic called Spider-Man: Venom’s Wrath.

    As for the Dredlox/Incinerators, when we get a second volume of this we will get the actual story involving them, in #79. That’s a very fun story in and of itself.

  15. It’s disgusting to me that no one at Marvel can donate some time and effort into looking into the Rom rights situation? Not one lawyer or intern? Too busy putting out the next let down of a mini series to find a way to publish the greatest Spaceknight of all time!

    Do we need to start a letter campaign? I’m sure they will just give us the run around but its pretty frustrating seeing no solution or effort.

  16. BTW, I also have to give some kudos to Marvel for bringing Dolemite into Marvel continuity. Or is that the Avenging Disco Godfather?

  17. “Power Man and Iron Fist attend a play where Chuck Norris fights the Daleks.”

    Igh… whibuf…


  18. Aardsy, that can only mean one thing:

    ROM for president!
    THAT’S why the comic isn’t being published!

  19. Strange, didn’t they reprint the ROM entry in the Essential Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe? Wonder why they couldn’t reprint the issue here…

  20. #26–Yes they did. I haven’t checked the Essential Deluxe Edition reprints, but he’s in the original Handbook Essential.

    . . .though he is deleted from the book’s cover.

  21. Is this how we say thank you to those proud Spaceknights who fought so long and so honorably in their forgotten war? We have endless TPBs, crossovers, and miniseries for the men and women who served in the Kree/Skrull War, the Secret Wars, and World War Hulk. Those X-men who fought the Brood and gave aid to the Shi’ar Empire in their time of need are remembered. What message does this send to Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Super-Skrull and the other heroes who have fought against the Annihilation Wave?

    These dedicated, oft-misunderstood champions of Galador, who were subjected to the indignity of being kicked in the face by, or raked with the razor-like claws of, those very beings they were sworn to protect, are now swept under the rug and ignored. For shame, Marvel, for shame.

  22. I’m still annoyed that Essential Marvel Two In One Volume One lacks issue 21 – anyone have any idea why?

  23. “Chuck Norris fights the Daleks”

    My God, it’s full of stars!

    Why don’t I own this? I need to correct this grevious error post haste.

  24. I think Marvel should just go the route McFarlane did with Miracleman. Just reprint ROM appearances and see if anyone cares enough to sue over it.

    If they don’t want to do that, couldn’t they just buy the rights from Hasbro for like a $1.50?

  25. But..but, what alien shapeshifting wizard hooker will charge low, low prices on a half and half for Solace now?!?!

    That was a beauitiful article and I do miss my beloved ROM. Thanks for this.

  26. So Jeff walks into a bar, and says:
    I think the hook you’ll need to convince the BBC [to get ROM on Doctor Who] is to mention that K-9 is in fact ROM’s long-lost childhood pet.

    My night just got better.

  27. We’ve got all these people making comments like “I need to see this story!” or “Why doesn’t Marvel try to collect these Rom issues?”

    Look, the rights to Rom are in dispute and uncertain. So if everyone seriously wants to read all these stories — why don’t you just go ahead and buy some back issues? Instead of sitting there expecting Marvel to do all the work, why don’t you go ahead and take the initiative and dig for the stories yourself? They’re usually priced reasonably so they won’t break the bank (we’re not exatly talking Action # 1 here.) Plus, you would be supporting your local comic book shop.

  28. why don’t you just go ahead and buy some back issues?

    I’m pretty sure the record’ll show that I actually have bought some back issues, but that’s not the point.

    In this case, it’s a matter of the content of the Essential being incomplete and missing an issue that is most certainly part of an ongoing run. Things happen in it. Subplots are continued. And unlike the Marvel Two-In-One with Doc Savage–as there continues to be a company holding those rights that publishes material–this one’s infuriating simply because of the mixed-up rights: There’s nobody doing anything with them.

    In the larger scale, this means that ROM–which is a fun book that could find a decent market with an Essential or four–continues to languish and one of Bill Mantlo’s greatest works goes unread. Putting together a full run isn’t as easy as it sounds–trust me–and the Essentials are clearly the preferred format for a lot of that Marvel Bronze-Age stuff.

    Thus: FREE ROM.

  29. “If they don’t want to do that, couldn’t they just buy the rights from Hasbro for like a $1.50?”

    Ironically, we’re probably driving the price of ROM’s rights up by continuously mentioning him.

  30. Oh, right. So the missing Two In One issue teams up Ben Grimm and Clark Savage Jr. That makes my pain even worse.

  31. See, I’m confused. If they don’t have the rights, how come they can use the Spaceknights in the Annihilation books? Or is it only Rom-the-toy that the rights apply to, and all the stuff Mantlo created around it is unambiguously Marvel-ous?

  32. I actually read the Thing/Doc Savage Two in One recently. I believe Mantlo wrote it.

  33. I’ve put the images on my two shoddy blogs to help the cause. Hopefully if enough people speak up, Marvel will get the rights.

  34. what other titles has Rom appeared in around that time? wasnt he in some uncanny x-men issues at one point? did they get reprinted?

  35. I added the free rom tag to my site. I also asked my pr contact at Hasbro what the deal was, but haven’t heard back. I think they’re too scared to comment… or too busy to deal with a peon like me. heh

  36. I was a huge ROM fan (still am) and have all the issues & crossovers (so access to the stories isn’t a personal gripe)… ROM Spaceknight Revisited is one of the fansites out there that shows that ROM still has a dedicated following. Personally, I’m annoyed by two aspects of the rights issue – 1. reprints, compendiums etc – as stated above, ‘Essentials’-type collections have gaps.
    2. (my big gripe) No ROM figurines can be made until these rights issues are resolved. I really wanted to have a ROM issue from the Eaglemoss Classic Marvel Figurine Collection with a ROM figurine. The rights issue seems to have removed the rest of the ROM supporting characters from the comic/figurine mix as well… Male and female dire wraiths (relatives of skrulls), hellhounds, Hybrid (amazing creepy story that includes the X-Men). He was one of Galactus’ heralds who took him to the only planet he couldn’t eat (Wraithworld /the Dark Nebula system tried to eat him).
    I really hope that Hasbro and Marvel can work something out soon… Paul, thanks for putting the question out to your contact at Hasbro – please keep us posted if you hear back… and Chris, thanks for kicking off the Free ROM campaign :)

  37. Though oddly, the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe reprints included ROM, as far as I can remember. Why was that allowed?

  38. Count me in on the free ROM bandwagon. This concept would seem to be perfect for an animated series or movie. The ROM toyline was horribly handled with no figures of the other spaceknights or the dire wraiths. ROM was the best of the toy tie-ins in my opinion.

  39. and just a thought… since Hasbro is currently producing the Marvel Legends, Superhero Squad and the FF movie action figures, one would think it would be in their best interest to revive one of their own ‘sleeper’ brands.
    I’m just puzzled by how letting something collect dust in the ‘stacks’ benefits either company – there are a bunch of mid-lifers out there (like me) who would love to have Hasbro’s ROM (and supporting cast) available for sculpting by Bowen, Eaglemoss, Hasbro’s Legends line etc

    An interesting story posted on Joe Acevedo’s site:
    describes how Luke Thompson of Whiz Kid Productions purchased a factory in China with thousands of molds…
    “Of course, this leaves another issue, in that the molds belong to these companies, but they’re now in my warehouse, so I did what any entrepreneur would do: I called up the companies that owned these molds and told them that they had three options. They could pay me to keep or destroy them, they could pay someone else to cart them away to somewhere else, or I could pay them so that I could use them. A lot of companies really liked that third option.”

    “Then I made another proposition. Since I’m already paying to use their molds, why don’t I pay more to make characters they own? What’s not to like? They get to keep the character, the mold, and pretty much all the credit, while I pay for everything, and thousands of fans across the world get figures they’ve been wanting for years.”
    So how’s the business going? “Like gangbusters, man. Total gangbusters. Hey, wait… Gangbuster, we could make him… anyway, we’ve got some massive orders. Between the internet and comic and toy distributors, we’re doing great. Better than I ever could have hoped.”

    … I see a free ROM as a win-win to Marvel, Hasbro and us fans.

  40. That article is a bit of a joke. Literally. Couple of times a year, action figure customizers get together to show off themed sets in what they call CustomCon. Some of the customizers go all-out, even producing elaborate backstories for their fictional toy lines. It’s fun, and they produce some impressive work, but any relationship between the articles and reality is accidental at best.

  41. hmm… good point. Well, I did say it was an ‘interesting story’ ;-) … having just read about his company being threatened with lawsuits in a more recent article on that site
    I probably wouldn’t have posted the original.
    The above story aside, I’m still not clear on how it benefits Hasbro to let the ROM license collect dust when there is such a great demand out there – and – since they already have a relationship with Marvel via the Legends series.

  42. I agree: FREE ROM and reintegrate the entire Space Knights mythos back into the Marvel Universe, which is experiencing an Annihilation miniseries-prompted renaissance of its cosmic line of characters(Nova, the nouveau Guardians of the Galaxy), where our favorite Galadorian gladiator would fit well.