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Freeview is a series where I examine the comics given away on Free Comic Book Day. Books given away as part of this initiative are done so with the purpose of introducing new readers and driving them to the monthly books. It is with this in mind that I have structured the criticisms of them and will use that as the measuring stick. It’s also a way for me to be all critical about comic book they are giving away.

Today, I continue with Rom #0.

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Now, I’ve never been a Rom fan. I have a few scattered issues of his comic run at Marvel, but was never impressed with them. If I’m being honest, I read them because I read every comic I own. I think maybe I was just too young to get the toy, not sure. Anyway, I never really saw the appeal of the original. I know that there is a fanbase for this and that they were looking forward to this, but that ain’t me.

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It’s like Gort had a baby with a frogman.

Beware my square gun! Plus, his nipple lasers and stomach look like another face. Like, more so than his actual face. Is there a Krang thing going on here?

Anyway, I picked up this Free Comic Book Day offering because I picked them all up. It was this level of excitement that I read Rom #0.

So, there’s a text intro page setting up Rom’s eternal battle with the Dire Wraiths. Since Marvel uses the Wraiths sometime still, I had assumed that they were part of what Marvel created over the course of the original series. Due to that, I figured that Marvel still owned the Dire Wraiths. Maybe they worked it out so they could use them here? Don’t really care.

Our story begins with a couple troopers (?) investigating what they presume to be a bonfire. En route they are met by a military group who have arrived at the scene before them. Then from the smoky crater arises Rom. The earthlings are obviously impressed by this alien warrior with flashing nipples. Like, J.J. Abrams quality lens flare flashing.

Turns out some of these soldiers are really Dire Wraiths. I’m not sure if they are in disguise or if they have taken over human bodies. One of the Wraiths absorbs the life force of one of the troopers and grows, big bloody-looking wings. This is actually kind of a neat transformation and looks pretty cinematic. You could see this being translated into a movie. There’s a frightening thought.

Rom straight up blows a hole through the Dire Wraith, Hard Boiled style. Then Rom flies off into the night vowing to help Earth fight off the Wraith menace. And that’s it. 11 pages of story to introduce Rom to the year 2016.

Then there are some concept sketches of this updated version of Rom. Different styles of heads and chestplates, but never wavering from the nipple lasers!

Then, in this Rom comic, we get a 2 page Transformers reading guide. Ok, thought this was supposed to be Rom, but whatevs. Following that is a story featuring a new take on Action Man. Sigh.

I used to work at a large retail toy store and have seen several versions of Action Man come and go. Mostly go. This plays him up as a James Bond type agent going after the nefarious Doctor X. Along the way, A.M. rescues Ian, a support agent who is under fire in the facility.

In a twist better than I thought we would get in this story, Mr. Man, unable to defuse Dr. X’s doomsday rocket, hops aboard and flies it over London, to his death. At the end, we realize that Ian, having been saved, is now the new Action Man. A new hero, having to live up to the obviously looming legacy of his predecessor, is a cool take on the character. Not cool enough for me to pick it up though. Finally, on the back cover, I realize that this is also an Action Man book.

This book trades in on nostalgia almost wholly. I’m not sure how many new readers would be drawn to these characters. If that’s not the entire mission statement of Free Comic Book Day, I don’t know what is. Nothing here intrigues me enough to get me to continue picking these series up. Admittedly, I have biases already for these properties, but give me a good enough concept and I might.

On a serious tip, among the ads is a page for the Bill Mantlo support fund. Mantlo, writer of the original Rom run and creator of Rocket Racoon, has had some serious medical problems following an accident in 1992. Take a minute to check out http://www.billmantlo.com for the full story and maybe throw some help his way if you can.

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