Rom #32

Issue Date: 
July 1982
Story Title: 
Choosing Sides!

Bill Mantlo (writer), Sal Buscema & Joe Sinnott (artists), R.Parker (letterer), Ben Sean (colorist), Al Milgrom & Ann Nocenti (editors), Jim Shooter (editor-in chief)

Brief Description: 

Rom meets with his friends in Clairton and learns that Torpedo was attacked by Hybrid and saved from being frozen to death by the former hack reporter Mack Killburn, who now wants to join Rom’s crusade. After informing his human friends about Hybrid’s identity and about his mistake in releasing the convicts, Rom leaves to rectify his mistakes. In the meantime, Mystique, Destiny and Rogue have met Hybrid who convinces them that, as mutants, they share a common cause – and common foes. Nevertheless, the women are shocked to see how he sadistically murders the escaped convicts who chance upon them. When Rom flies by, a seemingly injured Mystique lures him in and Rogue follows up by attacking and trying to absorb his power. Instead, she absorbs part of his character and is shocked by the goodness she finds in him. As Rom and Hybrid fight, Hybrid can no longer concentrate on keeping the future hidden from Destiny and she learns that he plans to use them and other mutant women as breeders. While the two older women still argue whether or not they should help Rom, Rogue attempts to do so. The other women eventually help and Mystique saves Rom from falling prey to hybrid’s mental manipulations. With Rogue absorbing part of Hybrid’s power, Rom then uses his Neutralizer on him to scatter him to atoms. Rom then urges the mutants to work with their fellow humans against the Wraiths. While the two older women refuse, Rogue is touched by his words and hopes they meet again.

Full Summary: 

The three female members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants – Mystique, Rogue and Destiny – sought shelter from a blizzard in an abandoned West Virginian Mansion, only to find the Wraith mutant horror named Hybrid waiting for them – turns out the elements were the least of their problems.

Mystique, the Brotherhood’s (or make that now Sisterhood) leader asks the teams precognitive Destiny who or what that thing is. She only knows the future, the blind precog replies, and all she sees is death. His or theirs, asks the team’s youngest member, Rogue. Yours, most assuredly, human, Hybrid goads her. Using the powers she stole recently from Ms. Marvel, Rogue tries to punch him, only to find she may have met her match, as the monster counters her blow and forces her to her knees. Mystique exclaims her foster daughter’s name, while Destiny just repeats the word “death.” Throwing caution to the winds, Mystique attacks Hybrid. Upon touching Hybrid’s ghastly gelatinous flesh, Mystique inexplicably also touches his malevolent inhuman mind. His memories replay before her eyes.

(Hybrid’s memories)

Its father was a Wraith, whose spacecraft had crashed on Earth. He took on human shape and married a woman. At first, it was a pragmatic choice for “Jacob Marks” to further his cover. But he fell in love and a child was born, Jimmy Marks. Jacob was relieved to find his son fully human. He ceased looking for his kinsmen, but they found him and demanded the child. The Wraiths instructed Jimmy in the arcane arts of the Dark Nebula and he learned that he was more than human, more than Wraith… a Hybrid.

His first act of infamy was to slough off his human shape and slay his own parents. Preparing to extend his sway over all humankind, Hybrid met resistance from the Uncanny X-Men and the spaceknight Rom. It was Rom’s neutralizer in the hands of the youngest X-Man, Kitty Pryde, that blasted Hybrid to atoms.


At that point, the mindmerge between Hybrid and Mystique abruptly breaks off and Hybrid furiously slaps her away. Seeing him hurt Mystique, Rogue punches the ground beneath him, making him topple. She flies Mystique out of harm’s way, but the leader of the Brotherhood has, in the meantime, concluded that Hybrid is some manner of mutants just like them. Destiny agrees. They may have found an ally to fight Rom, who is already looking for them.

Destiny’s words give Hybrid pause. They too have fought Rom who, along with the X-Men, is his most hated foe! Mystique reveals that the X-Men are their enemies too. Hybrid explains that Rom’s neutralizer scattered him to atoms. The pain was almost unbearable but, by sheer force of will, he reconstituted himself. Now, he craves revenge. Mystique proposes an alliance. Hybrid agrees if this means Rom’s death, but Destiny can’t help but wonder how their alliance will fare once victory is theirs. Hybrid’s inhumanness makes the future difficult to foresee.

In Clairton, West Virginia Brock Jones aka the Torpedo finally wakes up. He tells those gathered – members of his family and other citizens of Clairton that know about the Dire Wraiths - how he was flying patrol back in the hills, testing his new Wraith-detector visor when something materialized out of the snow near the old Marks place. Something horrible! He tried to fight it, but the thing tore into him, toyed with him and left him for dead.

Brandy Clark and her fiancé, Steve Jackson, realize that a nightmare has returned to Clairton. Brandy reveals that Rom once found something horrible at the Marks farm, something that killed Jacob, Marjorie and Jimmy Marks. Steve recalls that Rom never told them what he fought, only that he beat it. If that creature has returned, now that Rom is gone…

Steve never gets to finish his sentence, as somebody else announces that the horror will be dealt with. Rom has returned. The spaceknight asks Torpedo to describe his assailant. Big, strong, but he didn’t need to touch him to lay him out in the snow, Clairton’s hero recalls.


Torpedo came at him at full torpedo thrust, but his foe took Brock’s punch and laughed. Then, he went inside Torpedo’s mind. When it was over, Brock almost wished he had killed him. In a way, he had. What else do you call it when someone ravages your soul?


Was that thing human? Brock asks. Once, Rom replies. The creature was a crossbreed between a human and a Dire Wraith. Its name was Jimmy Marks. It foreswore its humanity when it became Hybrid. Yet if it left Brock for dead, how is it that he is here in the bosom of his family?

Another man makes his presence known to give an explanation. Mack Killburn reveals that he brought him back. He found Torpedo crawling through the snow by the side of the road, as he was driving through the blizzard to get to Clairton to find Rom. Killburn reminds Rom that he is a hack reporter and that he wanted to do a story about the “spaceknight menace.” Only trouble was, nobody would publish it. He continues that he discovered the reason for that.

If Earth became aware of Rom, they’d also become aware of his enemies, the Dire Wraiths. Those shape-shifters have infiltrated the media – they are in positions of power. They kill stories that might give away their existence on Earth and they kill the reporters who write them. Rom’s friends have told him there is a war going on. He wants to enlist.

Rom replies that all are welcome in the fight. His prior errors will not be held against him, as he prays his are not held against him. He has returned to Clairton to correct such an error. Yesterday, not far from there, he released some men who claimed they were being enslaved against their will. He later learned that they were convicted criminals, a menace to society. In addition, three super-powered beings escaped from prison due to his ignorance. They all must be found. But Hybrid is by far the greater peril and must be dealt with first.

The he isn’t back permanently? Brandy Clark asks plaintively, while her fiancé, Steve, is relived by the news. Brock tries to get up, berating himself for being a lousy guardian of the town. Rom might as well have left the girl scouts to look out for the place in his absence. If Rom is going up against Hybrid, he wants to help. As he tries to rise, he shouts in pain and his wife and kids beg him to stay. Rom agrees with them. Torpedo is hurt and Hybrid won’t be affected by his power. Confronting him is a task Rom had better undertake alone.

Must he do everything alone? Brandy asks. He is beginning to accept solitude as his natural state, the spaceknight replies. It doesn’t have to be, she remarks. Steve angrily wonders why she doesn’t just get down on her knees and propose to him. Does she still remember he is her boyfriend? Angered by his own longings for Brandy, Rom leaves.

Not far away, four escaped convicts reach an abandoned house. They spy through the windows to see “broads,” namely Mystique and Destiny. Destiny suddenly reaches for her forehead, announcing that she foresaw death when they first came to this place. That vision is about to come to pass.

The quartet of convicts suddenly is swept off their feet and Hybrid makes his presence known to them. As they call him a monster, Hybrid replies that what he sees in their minds makes monsters too of them. The myriad horrors they have heaped upon their fellow humans matches in obscenity only the horror he is about to inflict on them. They beg him to leave them alive; they will even turn themselves in. He announces that he doesn’t care. He only needs them to test the extent of his powers after his return to Earth.

Manipulated by Hybrid’s mind, the escapees begin to whirl faster and faster in midair until Hybrid decides it is enough. The three mutant women are in time to witness what he has done. Only skeletons are left of the four men.

Rogue allows herself to be hugged by Mystique, as she asks her what they are doing with that horror. Why shed tears for mere humans? Hybrid asks. Mystique rationalizes it by pointing out that the humans could have served them as all Homo sapiens will one days serve Homo superior. All will serve him, Hybrid corrects her. At least those he allows to live, man and mutant alike. All others are expendable. Rogue realizes that he is talking about them. Mystique announces she will serve nobody and Destiny has another vision, sensing light coming through the darkness. Rom. Then the moment of his revenge draws near, the monster shouts. He instructs the women in what they have to do…

With his Energy Analyzer scanning the area below, Rom is closing in, searching from some Wraith-sign of Hybrid’s presence. He finds something else. He believes it to be a human woman in distress, but soon finds it is Mystique, seemingly badly bruised and beaten. He lands and she welcomes him, explaining that Rogue and Destiny are dead at Hybrid’s hands. However, Rom is suspicious. A moment later, Mystique assumes a healthy form and compliments his perceptiveness. It is no longer necessary to play damsel in distress. She has set Rom up and Rogue attacks from behind with all her strength.

Rom hesitates, asking Rogue why she is attacking. Unlike Mystique, he senses no evil in her. While hitting him again, Rogue playfully replies that he probably says that to all the girls. Rom locks her in a death grip and asks her to be serious. He warns her of Hybrid and the danger he poses. Rogue jokes about him putting the squeeze on her, before contorting in agony a moment later, screaming that he is cracking her spine. Shocked, Rom loosens his grip, but the young mutant nevertheless goes limp in his arms. Concerned, Rom leans closer to find Rogue still very much awake. She tells him that Destiny let her know that he is half human and she intends to put that to the test by using her absorption power on him, via a kiss.

With that kiss, both feel something neither has experienced before. Rom tears her away, cursing her for awakening emotions in him he dare not feel, since he may never be human again. Rogue doesn’t know what to say. She attempted to absorb Rom’s power, only to discover that the portion of humanity grafted to the armor possesses no power, but only a kind of decency which Rogue in her young life never has known. She finds that she likes it.

As both stand awed by the emotional empathy they’ve momentarily shared, Mystique and Destiny encircle Rom and something rises up from the snow embankment behind him, something evil.

Hybrid’s assault comes on many levels, physical, mental, emotional. Touched by the crossbreed’s malevolent evil, the snow whips into a blinding frenzy about Rom as his cyborg circuitry screams under a savage psychic assault.

Rogue announces that they can’t allow Hybrid to hurt Rom. Her foster mother asks if she is mad. That’s precisely what they planned. But Rom’s good… noble, the teenager replies helplessly. So are the Avengers and the X-Men, Mystique reminds her, but they side with humanity against mutantkind. Destiny chimes in. As Hybrid is busy with Rom, his mental blocking of her ability to see the future has waned. She now sees what Hybrid intends for them. He intends to force mutant females to serve as breeders whom Hybrid will use to bring forth a race of super-powered Hybrid beings like himself. Rogue shudders with revulsion and Mystique realizes that Hybrid played them from the first, starting with the unexplained mindmeld when they first met to let the women believe they shared a common goal with him.

Destiny suggests a new plan of action. Mystique decides they leave Hybrid and Rom to destroy each other, while Rogue protests that they must help Rom. Need she remind Rogue that they are evil mutants? Mystique sighs.

However, Destiny takes Rogue’s side. If Hybrid should overcome Rom, he will then turn his powers on them. While the older women still talk, Rogue decides to take action and flies to help Rom, over Mystique’s protests. She is still a child, she protests. True, Destiny remarks, but no matter how hard she might wish otherwise she isn’t her child.

Rogue flies through the blizzard to find that Hybrid has Rom by the throat. Can one choke a robot she wonders, only to correct herself that Rom isn’t a robot. He’s a man, one she wouldn’t mind getting to know better. Rom has called forth his neutralizer and Hybrid scrambles his control over his armor, preventing Rom from even moving his fingers. That moment, Rogue tackles Hybrid from behind, suggesting to Rom they work together. She adds that there is no way she is going to bear babies for an obscenity like Hybrid.

So her teammate has seen the future? Hybrid asks. He lunges for her and touches her face, remarking that the future is foreordained. Rogue gags at Hybrid’s touch to her bare skin. But something else sweeps over her besides nausea. She begins to absorb Hybrids power. She absorbs some of his mental ability to mind-shock him away from her. Then, her body reeling from Hybrid’s obscene touch, Rogue becomes very, very sick.

Rom lifts her chin, telling her she has done enough. He has regained control of his circuitry. The horror shall now answer to him. And that’s the hero they are trying to kill? Rogue wonders aloud, as he flies off to face Hybrid.

Destiny and Mystique join her with the old precog, announcing that Rom will triumph. Mystique sees no reason to stay any longer but Destiny explains that their presence is required to ensure victory.

As Rom trades blows with Hybrid, he asks if there is nothing he won’t sully with his touch. Knowing that he is referring to Rogue, Hybrid retorts that he likes her. He wants her. Her power, coupled with his, will bring forth an invincible race. Hybrid accuses him of being sanctimonious and wanting her as well. He is after all only a man, Hybrid leers, as he seemingly transforms into Rom’s human form. Rom reminds himself that this aspect no longer exists. It was destroyed by Galactus, along with the Spakenight terminator.

Hybrid tries a different tack, now turning into the woman Rom secretly loves, Brandy Clark. “Brandy” comes closer and Rom can’t find it in his heart to kill “her.”

That moment, another Brandy appears, telling Rom that she is the real thing. Hybrid turns back to his true form, angrily hissing, his plan spoiled. The other Brandy takes on her true form as well, that of Mystique. She tells Rom they stand united in a common cause. Then they shall share a common grave, Hybrid threatens. Rom hits him and then uses his Neutralizer on the advancing Hybrid. The monster laughs that he is ready for the weapon this time. His mind is throwing up a forcefield, which protects each of his individual atoms from the effect. Rom can neither banish nor kill him. And suddenly, the Spaceknight knows fear, as he finds himself immobilized and Hybrid slowly forces him to turn the Neutralizer on himself.

Destiny informs her teammates that she has foreseen this moment. It is time for them to act. Mystique tells her young ward, Rogue, that only she can tip the scales against Hybrid. Destiny adds that she must cut Hybrid’s power by absorbing it. Rogue shudders in revulsion at the idea of touching the monster again, but she realizes there is no other way. She takes off her gloves and approaches Hybrid – who is focused on Rom – from behind.

As she lays her hand on him, the absorption process begins. With Hybrid’s concentration broken, Rom is free again. Panicked, Hybrid offers Rogue what she wants: power, a lover, if only she will let him go before Rom trains his weapon on him. Rom screams at Rogue to duck as he shoots Hybrid, this time at the Neutralizer’s full setting. Finally, he succeeds and Hybrid is no more.

Afterwards, Rom turns to the mutant women, remarking that, while they claim to be evil, they nevertheless aided him in defeating the greatest evil of all. Destiny explains that mankind made them evil. They are dedicated only to their own kind. Rom remarks that, according to his analyzer, they share a common humanity with the other denizens of this planet. They should stand with their fellow man against perils like Hybrid and the Dire Wraiths. Mystique shouts that she acted today because their lives were in imminent danger. As for the future, mankind has scorned them, their betters, and will remain their enemy. Destiny admonishes her that, nevertheless, the issues Rom raised must be confronted in the future, but for the moment their steps must take them down different paths.

Only Rogue longingly looks back at Rom and wonders if their paths will cross again. Though he says nothing, it is Rom’s most fervent hope as well.

Characters Involved: 



Brandy Clark, Steve Jackson, Torpedo’s family and other citizens of Clairton

Mack Killburn


Destiny, Mystique, Rogue (all Brotherhood of Evil Mutants)


Hybrid’s memories

Jacob and Marjorie Marks

Jimmy Marks / Hybrid


Colossus, Nightcrawler, Sprite, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)


Torpedo’s narration:



Story Notes: 

Hybrid was believed to be destroyed in Rom #18. He murdered his father with a pitchfork in issue #17.

The Brotherhood (with the exception of Rogue and Mystique) were captured after their fight with the Avengers in Avengers Annual #10.

Firefall is another Galadorian spaceknight last seen in Rom #19.

Rom met the X-Men in issues 17 & 18.

The similarity between Mystique and Nightcrawler Rom noticed is explained (kind of) in X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #4.

Rom last fought Hybrid the Wraith / human mutant offspring alongside the X-Men in issues #17-18.

Rom’s body was destroyed in issue #26.

Hybrid shows up again to plague Rom and the New Mutants in Rom Annual #3.

Issue Information: 
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