REVIEW: ‘ROM: Dire Wraiths,’ #1

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ROM: Dire Wraiths #1

ROM: Dire Wraiths #1 is published by IDW Publishing, comprises two stories. The first, “One Small Step for Dire Wraith-Kind, Part 1” is written by Chris Ryall, art by Luca Pizzari, colors by Jim Boswell, and letters by Shawn Lee. The second, “One Small Step for a Spaceknight, Part 1” is written by Chris Ryall, art by Guy Dorian Sr., and Sal Buscema, colors by Ross Campbell, and letters by Shawn Lee.

Part 1 of ROM: Dire Wraiths sets up a story in the period of 1969 as a group of astronauts voyage to the moon. The flight, and communications, are being broadcast to the public, however, unbeknownst to the citizens of Earth, a secret space station had been set up to monitor extraterrestrial threats. This space station, named ‘Adventure-One’ is manned by six of Earth’s brightest individuals. The public space flight is used as a decoy to deliver aid and supplies to their counterparts as they float through the vastness of space.

The crew will quickly learn that space is smaller than they thought. Lurking in the darkness is a small band of Dire Wraiths. The Dire Wraiths are a shape-shifting, physic invading alien race, and they’ve turned their attention on overtaking Earth. Part 2 of ROM: Dire Wraiths #1 details how the Dire Wraiths were able to transport from across the Galaxy to the moon of Earth. To travel that kind of distance, they need to absorb the power of a Solstar Knight, and as it happens, the Wraiths have been able to capture one.

Admittedly, the organization of this issue baffles me. Part one gives us a reference point of time, but part two follows straight after it sequentially. Chronologically speaking, however, part two appears to be the prelude. Given the second story is only 5 pages, it doesn’t really add anything valuable to the issue. In fact, it only serves to confuse the storyline.

The dialogue from Ryall is forgettable. Nothing within the arc really jumps out at you as striking or engaging. The pace of the two stories is an odd contrast. Part one moves considerably slow and fails to build tension when the Dire Wraiths inevitably attack the space shuttle crew. Part two speeds along as it only encompass very little detail.

Building on this point, of the 5 pages of the latter story, the series protagonist, Rom, gets three panels. The issue spends more time with the astronauts in part one, and Ryall gives us no specific reason as to why they’re more pivotal to the story than the title hero. It’s disappointing to pick up a title, where the hero is given no time to develop.

The redeeming quality of this issue was illustrative work. Pizzari and Boswell cover the art and colors for part one, and the depiction of the Dire Wraiths as they skulk around the dark shadows of the moon. It is a really enjoyable comic viewing. The last few panels of the primary story are especially dark, and chilling, as they capture a Wraith attacking a human and assuming his identity.

Part two had some great coloring from Campbell that really made the panels pop, and there was a panel or two of the Solstar Knight from Dorian Sr., and Buscema where the layout was extremely stirring.  Lee on letters for both parts does a good job of capturing and differentiating the dialogue from all the characters. The layout is appealing and doesn’t distract from the panel work.

Overall, the issue feels fairly middling, due to the majority of the story being fairly slow-paced. The lack of Rom, the Solstar Knight, is a hard point to get over. Perhaps the series will develop further and use issue #1 as a springboard, but currently, I find myself already switched off. As a reader, the first issue is where the creative team should be setting the bar the highest. First impressions are last impressions, and my impressions of Rom, are sadly lackluster.

ROM: Dire Wraiths #1 is available in stores now.

ROM: Dire Wraiths #1
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TL;DR

Overall, the issue feels fairly middling, due to the majority of the story being fairly slow-paced. The lack of Rom, the Solstar Knight, is a hard point to get over. Perhaps the series will develop further and use issue #1 as a springboard, but currently, I find myself already switched off. As a reader, the first issue is where the creative team should be setting the bar the highest. First impressions are last impressions, and my impressions of Rom, are sadly lackluster.