so i just read ROM #5. It’s bizarre. The villain is a possessed house.

ROM and his crew just sleep in it, well, two humans sleep. ROM does what he does.

It’s even advertised as having a Dr. Strange guest appearance. But there is only a figment of him in a dream. The greater cameo comes from an old villain from Steve Ditko’s run on Dr. Strange, The House of Shadows.

I suspect it’s like Bill Mantlo is testing the waters. I hear this pages wonder, “Is ROM really in the Marvel Universe?”, but it does so ever so subtly, by having an old, defeated villain from Steve Ditko’s original run on Dr. Strange. The villain was banished from a house, thought to be lost in the past, but Mantlo dug him out and gave him a new house to haunt, a new generation to fascinate.

Besides the clever curation of the Marvel universe, we also get to see more of is Galador. You know, ROM’s homeworld, the ruled by the race that turns their bright-eyed and bushy-tailed youth into mindless killing machines. Apparently, they have roses as trees.

as well as our hero demonstrate his tremendous sense of ethics, this time in the negative sense. We see ROM kill the possessive spirit of the house without any trepidation:

However, at the end of last issue, as I talked about at the end of last post, we saw ROM refrain from killing Firefall, saying that human knew not what he’d done.┬áHere, he cites the house’s knowledge that it commits the evil it does as the reason for its homicide. We’ve just seen, through the defeat of two villains consecutively, that strong standards guide his actions. Ideals as software design. No wonder Steve Ditko would go on to co-plot and illustrate the magazine for its final two years. The creator of tragically isolated and morally motivated heroes such as The Question and Mr. A, better known through the analogue Rorschach. Alan Moore wanted to use either of the two characters, but DC Comics forgot to pay Charlton comics for the rights of their characters. We see Rorschach meter out violent justice to a man who butchered a dog just as we see him investigate the murder of his old friend The Comedian.

From the looks of our buddy Firefall finding consciousness again in this issue, Bill Mantlo carries more optimism for doing the right thing than Steve Ditko (and Alan Moore’s writing) could ever muster. ROM may have gained an ally by patiently waiting for the truth to reveal itself:

It seems that evil is indeed a temporary mental health condition. At least, according to one more superhero writer.

Until next time!