REVIEW: ‘ROM: Dire Wraiths’ TPB

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ROM: Dire Wraiths TP

ROM: Dire Wraiths is published by IDW Publishing and written by Chris Ryall. This TP collects ROM: Dire Wraiths #1 to #3, which have a cumulative creative team consisting of artists Luca Pizzari, Andrea Pizzari, Ron Joseph, Guy Dorian Sr., and Sal Buscema, colorists Jim Boswell and Ross Campbell, and letterer Shawn Lee.

ROM: Dire Wraiths alters the history of the first moon landing. Humans went to space long before 1969 and set up a secret space station, Adventure-One, equipped to monitor extraterrestrial threats. Now, two astronauts are sent on what the public assumes is the very first moon landing. However, the true purpose of this space-outing is to resupply the inhabitants of Adventure-One, a team of Earth’s brightest minds called Adventure Team. However, unbeknownst to our two astronauts, something is waiting for them on the moon. Dire Wraiths, known for their dark magicks, are on the warpath to conquer Earth. These shape-shifting creatures can take over the bodies of other species, making them formidable foes. Even with Earth’s greatest minds at work, the only thing powerful enough to stop this Dire Wraith invasion is Rom, the Spaceknight.

ROM: Dire Wraiths feels off-kilter, and it’s primarily a by-product of the pacing and the characterization. The first portion is unbearably slow. The story is filtered through a plethora of dialogue that is both long-winded and devoid of personality. While the pacing does speed up in the latter portion of the comic, there are still sections that grind to a halt because of the sudden shift between action and dialogue. The timeline also skips around a bit between the four parts of this TP. While these jumps are easy to follow, the events feel like they could have been shuffled a bit so that some of the long-winded, explanatory pieces of dialogue would not be needed.

The characters are rather forgettable. We know their names and their occupations, but we never get a feel for their personalities. Because of this, readers will be hard set to get attached to them. This inevitably results in a general disregard for the events that happen; many of the deaths and struggles result in minimal emotional impact. If not for the different colors on some of the characters’ outfits, they would blend together.

Similarly, the Dire Wraiths are described all the same: single-minded and certain of their superiority over other species. There is very little individuality, and overall, I’d like to have seen more information on these antagonists. We see a few other alien species that the Dire Wraiths have taken over, but we never get an idea of how widespread they really are or how many soldiers they have.

The main upside to ROM: Dire Wraiths is the artwork. A lot of people have worked on this TP! And for as many hands that have shaped this comic, it is quite coherent. There are definitely areas you can see where there’s a switch in artist or colorist, but overall it’s rather consistent. The artwork for the Dire Wraiths is exciting, especially in those panels that make them look quite formidable and wicked. There are some old school designs that reference the 80s comic run. And while that may be an upside for nostalgia, with the plethora of series being rebooted or generally redesigned for a more modern audience, Rom especially doesn’t feel like he’s been changed enough to shake off the 80s dust.

Unless you’re a big fan of Rom and have a yearning for nostalgia, ROM: Dire Wraiths’ story offers only forgettable characters and a narrative whose pacing is chaotic.

ROM: Dire Wraiths TP is available now wherever comics are sold.


DOM: Dire Wraith TP
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TL;DR

Unless you’re a big fan of Rom and have a yearning for nostalgia, ROM: Dire Wraiths’ story offers only forgettable characters and a narrative whose pacing is chaotic.