A Brief History On ROM And The Micronauts Upon Returning To Comic Books And Toys

Hi there, JDOC here. Normally you would get a con report from me on the website here, but I just had to report on this exciting news from SDCC (even though I’m not there). As reported from SDCC on Friday, two toy properties previously published by Marvel Comics: Rom: Spaceknight and The Micronauts, from the late 1970’s- early 1980’s, have now found a new home at IDW Publishing. The new books will be published by the company sometime in 2016, with further information to be released as they near publication.For those not already familiar with both toylines as comics, let’s begin with their publishing histories, followed by their toy histories.

Rom: Spaceknight, was published as a 75 issue and 4 annual comic series by Marvel Comics from December 1979-February 1986 (cover dates). The story centered around Rom, a spaceknight from the planet Galador, whose people were fighting an alien species known as the Dire Wraiths. In order to combat the Wraiths’ evil magicks, humanoids from Galador gave up their bodies and were transformed into cyborg spaceknights. Rom was considered the best of them all, using several weapons in his arsenal- 2 of which were the most effective: His analyzer, to detect the Wraiths, and his neutralizer, which sent the Wraiths to limbo, or could destroy them (as had happened in one case). When the Wraiths made their way to Earth, Rom followed them in earnest to defeat their evils, and along the way was aided by several Marvel characters in the main universe (aka Earth-616), ranging from the Fantastic Four, to Spiderman, to the X-men themselves.

Spoiler Alert here: Eventually, when the series was cancelled by Marvel, Rom was given his fondest wish- to become human once more, and that wish was given to him by the Beyonder after he defeated a rogue group of second generation spaceknights had attempted to take over Galador (after being created by the Galadorians to replace their lost first generation knights during the Wraith War to protect them from any future Wraith attacks), but failed thanks to Rom’s intervention. Along with Earth human Brandy Clark, they both stayed on Galador to not only watch over this misguided second generation of knights, but to also restore the planet to its former glory (Rom was able to get a new body via the Beyonder because his original body, left in stasis, had been destroyed by the second generation knights alongside the other bodies of the first generation knights as well). After the series ended, Marvel did publish a 6-issue miniseries titled: Spaceknights, back in 2001, which continued the events from Rom issue 75, in which the offspring of several original spaceknights, as well as Rom and brandy Clark, became the next generation to protect the planet Galador from any meances which would threaten it. They were also joined by a few Galadorians who had for the first time, underwent the spaceknight process. A second Spaceknights series is pending from Marvel, rumored on the heels of IDW’s announcement, to be published in the post-Secret Wars Marvel universe. Marvel also continued to use the Wraiths post-Rom in the Marvel universe, establishing them as the magical offshoots of the Skrull race themselves (Skrulls were more science concentrated, whereas the Wraiths concentrated their attentions on the dark magicks, hence their disfigured appearance).

Rom was also a toyline created by Parker Brothers (now part of Hasbro after Hasbro purchased several toy companies in the early 1990’s and merged them into their company to create the Hasbro worldwide brand, of which Kenner (the more famous, who also had the licensing rights to Star Wars and Mask) and Tonka also became part of that merger). Rom had 3 accessories: 2 of which were mentioned above: The Neutralizer and The Analyzer, and the third- The Translator, which allowed him to communicate with other species throughout the galaxy.

Here’s the original commercial for it:
ROM: Spaceknight – TV Commercial

The toy used a 9-volt battery to power it. For more information on Rom, here’s a link to wikipedia itself:

ROM: Spaceknight – Wiki

For Rom’s history as a toy, here’s the link: History of ROM: Spaceknight

Now for the second part of this history: The Micronauts. The Micronauts was another toyline published by Marvel Comics, which consisted of the first series: 59 issues and 2 annuals from January 1979-August 1984. The series told the story of a group of rebels, led by Commander Rann (an astronaut who had recently returned after a 1000 year journey through the microverse exploring it), as they fought to restore freedom to the planet Homeworld, as well as the rest of the Microverse, from former Homeworld scientist Baron Karza’s tyranny. The series was monthly for 54 issues, but then changed to bi-monthly when it was decided that the book would become a ‘Direct Sales’ only book (since some comics, as incentives, were just starting to become sold only to the burgeoning comic store market in the early 1980’s, which eventually replaced the newsstand as the place to get new comics). The change started as of issue 55, and lasted only 5 more issues to issue 59, and the paper quality was changed as well to a heavier stock to conform to the way comics sold to the direct market would be published.

Spoiler Alert: The first series ended with issue 59, as Baron Karza was defeated and Homeworld, alongside the rest of the Microverse, were freed from his tyranny, but not without a huge cost, as the entire planet and its populace was laid to waste (see a brief explanation further down as this happened in the interim as the Micronauts were occupied with another threat elsewhere) because of Karza and his body banks on the planet itself (Karza, giving the promise to all Homeworlders of immortality if they succumbed to the banks’ process- but they all didnt as the rebels continued to fight Karza, but using his forces, he enslaved the entire planet and used its energies to mutate every last citizen on the planet into monsters as the final conflict between Rann and Karza occurred).

The second series lasted from October 1984-May 1986, and lasted only 18 issues. This new series involved the voyages of the Micronauts through the microverse, as they attempted to restore peace and many planets ravaged in the wake of the Karza war.

Spoiler alert: Karza returns once more to plague the heroes towards the end of the series, but again is defeated by them, Marionette (Princess Mari of Homeworld) killing Karza (who by this time inhabited Rann’s body psychically, which he had the ability to do). They then give up their own life forces to restore all to what it once was originally before Karza’s machinations. This was to be the end of the second series, but not of a few of the heroes themselves that were featured.

Mari, Rann, and Bug would eventually return to the Marvel universe in a Cable annual, heralding their return,as they were created by Marvel, and as such Marvel had the publishing rights to them, as well as the Enigma Force, and Microverse (only the toys that tied into the comics, such as Acroyear, Microtron, Biotron et al were owned and copyrighted by Mego toys). The Micronauts also popped up from time to time in the Marvel universe on Earth, as the first series had the Microverse tied into the Marvel universe, having them run into several characters ranging from Man-Thing in Florida (a nexus point for entry into the Microverse), to Nick fury and SHIELD, to even the X-Men themselves (of which a 4-issue miniseries was also published featuring both groups teaming up to battle a menace from the Microverse, greater than Karza himself, of which the events occurred between issues 57 and 58 of the first Micronauts series- see above the ramifications noted from series one).

There was no more Micronauts comics being published until circa 2002, when Devil’s Due released its own series, which lasted 11 issues for the first series (for further explanation why, read further down under the toy history), from June 2002- September 2003. In this series, there was no Commander Rann, Mari, or Bug (again Marvel owned those characters), but a human boy was made the leader of this ragtag group of rebels fighting Karza and his forces (no mention, but implied of an alternate microverse, sincce the original microverse was owned by Marvel), again using the same toy names (Micronauts now owned by Abrams-Gentile entertainment after Mego went defunct in 1982). The second series, again published through Devil’s Due (under the Image comics banner), lasted only 3 issues from March-May 2004, before the entire series was cancelled altogether (most likely due to Abrams-Gentile pulling the license due to low sales and rumors of an upcoming animated series by them).

Now for the toyline itself: The Micronauts came from the idea of taking Japan’s Microman figure line, and renaming it for the American Market, much like how some toys were renamed when Mattel acquired the rights to several Japanese toylines (which had their own animated series as well) and called them the Shogun Warriors (3 of which: Raydeen, Danguard Ace, and Combattra, were later published by Marvel as a comic as part of its toy/tv series/movie line tie-ins (this would eventually lead Takara to talk with Hasbro and release some Microman vehicles and Diaclone toys and evolve them into Transformers: Generation 1, which made them the most successful pre-existing toyline above Mego Micronauts after 1984). Again 2 of which are mentioned above as part of these tie-ins). These toys were sold from the mid 1970’s-1980, when Mego decided to stop sales on the line itself due to a certain movie (Star Wars via Kenner), outselling everyone else’s toylines (even Hasbro’s G.I. Joe, which by this time had shrunk to 8 inches and became known as Super Joe to emulate the sci-fi essence of Star Wars). Of Note: Mego had the right of first refusal on the Star Wars toyline itself, since Lucas had gone to them to license the toy rights to them first,but they passed, figuring the movie itself, although it would do well, the toys themselves would not (since usually some movie/tv toyline tie-ins would not sell as well after the movie was released and then later pulled after its theatrical run to wait for either limited re-release into theaters, or for one of the three major networks at the time (ABC,NBC,CBS) to broadcast it, or the tv series was cancelled (as was the case with Battlestar Galactica and Mattel), although for Mego, their longest lasting toyline tie-ins were both Planet of The Apes, and Star Trek, in their 12 inch forms. The Micronaut toys were later re-released in the early 1980’s, but in limited quantities and renamed Ceres and The Interchangeables (since Mego, although defunct by 1982, they still owned the copyright and trademark name to the Micronauts). They were again re-released in the early 2000’s to the comic book stores through Diamond Distribution, albeit with only a few of the more popular ones getting the treatment, such as Force Commander and Baron Karza, but died due to defective merchandise sent out from a Chinese factory, causing fractures and breaks on the toys when played with. It seems now they may have gotten a new home with Hasbro, but we will have to wait and see if and when any Micronauts toys will be released by them.

For the toyline history, here’s the wiki link: History of the Micronauts toyline

For the comics link:Micronauts – Wiki

Here’s a classic commercial for you (the first one):Micronauts TV Commercial

Bonus link (Microman Takara) commercial: Microman TV Commercial

And there you have it- A brief history of 2 toylines made into comics. Be on the lookout on this website for any further announcements made regarding both series mentioned above.This is the J-Doc signing off, so til next time- See ya, and as always comments are welcome to make these articles better.

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JDOC
Author: JDOC View all posts by
JDOC is a longtime comic geek whose love for comics and classic animation (WB/HB/ MGM/Disney) knows no bounds. Hes been to many conventions in Florida over the years since the early 90's, including Megacon since 2003.

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