Rom #18

Issue Date: 
May 1981
Story Title: 
And a child shall deceive them!

Bill Mantlo (writer), Sal Buscema (artist), Michael Higgins (letterer), Ben Sean (colorist), Jo Duffy (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in chief), Chris Claremont (consultant)

Brief Description: 

The X-Men battle Rom, believing him to be an evil mutant, while the true threat, Hybrid, uses his powers to influence the weather and separate them from each other. Kitty Pryde eventually realizes who their true foe is and helps banish Hybrid with Rom’s Neutralizer. However, in the process, Rom is sent to Limbo as well.

Full Summary: 

A case of mistaken identity is taking place. The newly arrived X-Men try to protect young Jimmy Marks from the space knight, Rom, whom they believe to be a villain, unaware that Jimmy is a monstrously evil mutant named Hybrid. They believe Rom to be the mutant. The grown-up X-Men attack, while Kitty Pryde holds Jimmy Marks in her arms, trying to calm him. Rom is aware that Hybrid is hiding his true identity from the newly arrived heroes.


Only this morning, Clairton physician, Dr. Stennis, had visited the Marks farm to find the livestock dead and young Marjorie Marks aged fifty years in a day. Her husband, Jacob Marks, showed Stennis their son. The doctor fled in terror. Soon after, acting on information gleaned from the bureau of records, Rom led his friends, Brandy Clark and Steve Jackson, to the Marks farm. Jacob Marks was a Dire Wraith in disguise; the first Wraith Rom met who had learned compassion making him unique. Unfortunately, so was his mutant son, Hybrid, who had been corrupted by the Wraith elders. Showing his true, disgusting form, Jimmy Marks displayed vast powers, greater than either of his parents’ races, as he attacked Rom and slew his father. Rom attempted to banish Hybrid to Limbo. But his Neutralizer – on its Wraith setting – had no effect. At that point, the X-Men showed up, interpreting the situation the way Hybrid wished them to.

The present:

Nightcrawler, Colossus and Wolverine attack without warning, while Storm becomes aware of an elemental disturbance - that the blizzard that appears around them is unnatural. She focuses on it, while her male teammates fight. Nightcrawler teleports away from Rom, leaving the savage Wolverine room to strike with his claws, causing Rom quite some pain.

Still holding onto Jimmy, Kitty watches in fear, realizing that Wolverine means to kill his foe, while Hybrid secretly gloats. Exercising a part of his vast mental powers, Hybrid analyzes Storm’s power and activates it undetected, magnifying the blizzard into a full-force gale. Colossus orders Kitty to take the boy away, while Nightcrawler realizes that the blizzard is driving them apart. Storm assures them that it is none of her doing and worries that she cannot control the storm.

Rom, in the meantime, struggles against Colossus, remembering the first time he has fought a Terran superbeing. Must he always stand in opposition to them? Wolverine intends to strike again but, uncharacteristically, he hesitates. He senses evil and his gut tells him that the space-knight is not the source.

While Storm senses another, unseen force at work, that force acts levitating common farm implements, hurling them at Rom as the X-Men jump aside.

Storm focuses all her will on at least containing the gale, leaving her teammates to struggle on without her. Rom, who now has some breathing space, intends to locate Hybrid in the blizzard, which practically leaves all of them almost blind. Finally, he sees him in his true form and Kitty, standing in front of Hybrid and not realizing what he is, cries out for her teammates.

Rom shouts a warning at Kitty, but she cannot hear him over the wind. She worries how to protect Jimmy and turns around, only to come face to face with Hybrid. She screams in horror and instinctively phases straight through Rom, who has come to aid her. Unfortunately, this leaves Rom’s circuits scrambled and, wracked with incredible nausea, he tries to get his bearings as Hybrid closes in on him.

Colossus, in the meantime, tells his friends that he cannot find Sprite and the other two realize that Storm isn’t behind the blizzard. Something is very wrong here. They decide to split up to find Kitty and the boy.

Hybrid, in the meantime, gloatingly asks Rom how he wishes to die. Asphyxiating? Or shall Hybrid age him to dust? Rom bravely replies that he is going to go out fighting, as he trains his Neutralizer on the monster. However, he can barely stand, as Hybrid well knows. Rom puts his Neutralizer to the fullest setting and shoots.

At that moment, the whirling wall of white parts to give Colossus a partial view of the struggle, even as he hears the shriek of the Neutralizer. He fears that Rom has trained the weapon on Kitty and blindly attacks, wrestling Hybrid, who in turn uses his power to change Colossus back to his human form. Then, Hybrid announces he will let him die fighting for air, as his expanding throat muscles cut off his oxygen. Colossus falls, while Hybrid goes looking for Rom, whom he has lost sight of. Luckily, Nightcrawler finds Piotr and starts administering CPR.

A short distance away, Wolverine senses something but it is not the stench of evil, it is cold steel and flesh combined. Wolverine unsheathes his claws. He admonishes himself that he should stop holding back. That’s no way to win a fight. He attacks Rom wildly, even though Rom protests, trying to talk to him.

A short distance away, Sprite vaguely sees the two of them fighting. She struggles to get up – she has to warn the others about the monster. She realizes that Wolverine is battling her savior and gets up. At that moment, her warning cry dies in her throat. She turns around to find Hybrid behind her, gloating that she would be a fitting receptacle for his first experiment in crossbreeding. Kitty shouts in horror and dives away from his outstretched clawed hand.

Kitty sternly admonishes herself that she is an X-Man, not a scared schoolgirl. She has to act, if she can stop shivering long enough to use her powers and her brains. She finds the snow mobile left behind Dr. Stennis. She activates the ignition and then sends it racing towards Hybrid. Unfortunately, the horror easily turns it away with his powers, then mentally dissolves it into its components and sends them hurtling back at Sprite.

Kitty tries to phase, but the cold is making it hard for her to focus. She’s afraid that the cold would make her lose control of her powers. Inadvertently, she bumps into Wolverine, who complains that he was just about to gouge the tin-man’s heart out. Kitty quickly explains that he isn’t the bad guy but the kid is. Both of them wonder where Rom is. The answer is: not far away but in deadly danger, as Hybrid once more attacks, this time swatting the Neutralize out of Rom’s hands. Wolverine sees this and reasons that Hybrid is afraid of the weapon. He points it at Hybrid and tries to pull the trigger but the Neutralizer’s built-in failsafe sends a bone-shattering feedback lashing through the X-Man’s body.

Hybrid gloats. Rom is disarmed and the humans are unable to use his weapon. Kitty runs to the weapon on the ground, knowing she is the only one left capable of turning the tide. She also knows what the gun has done to Wolverine, but it seems to be the only thing Hybrid’s afraid of. Frightened, she turns it on Hybrid and fires, momentarily stunning the creature, giving Rom some space. Rom is surprised that Kitty seems to be able to wield the weapon, apparently thanks to the same aspect of her phasing power that scrambled his electrical systems before.

Kitty keeps the weapon trained on Hybrid but he comes closer to her and Rom realizes that the gun isn’t on its full setting. It has to be set on both banishing and destroying energies at once. Rom flies at Hybrid, stopping him, and shouts at Sprite that the weapon can be reset by electrical impulses. Kitty manages to manipulate the weapon’s atoms and hits Hybrid with a full blast. The monster is shredded apart, while, at the same time, a dimensional rift opens through which the helpless spaceknight Rom falls.

Kitty’s control over the weapon finally falters and sends the weapon flying from her hands.
At the same moment, the storm caused by Hybrid ends and Storm joins her teammates.
Colossus finally awakes and Wolverine finds that he can neither smell Hybrid nor Rom. Storm finds a dejected Kitty kneeling in the snow, with burned hands, but she doesn’t care about her injuries. Rom tried to save them and she destroyed him with his own weapon. Ororo tries to comfort the girl by pointing out that a great evil has been eradicated and the armored man, whoever he was, obviously wished that. She believes he sacrificed himself. They can only pray that their unknown ally whom the gravely wronged is at peace.

The X-Men walk away, while the Neutralizer lies undiscovered in the snow. Elsewhere, in a realm between time and space, its master drifts… helpless without it…

Characters Involved: 


Colossus, Nightcrawler, Sprite, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Jimmy Marks/ Hybrid

In flashback

Jacob Marks / Wraith

Marjorie Marks

Dr. John Stennis

Brandy Clark

Steve Jackson

Story Notes: 

This issue and the last one presumably takes place somewhere during the 140ies of the Uncanny X-Men series.

Both Rom and Hybrid eventually escape from limbo.

Issue Information: 
Written By: