Rom #62

Issue Date: 
January 1985
Story Title: 
Truth or Consequences!!

Bill Mantlo (writer), Steve Ditko, Ian Akin & Brian Garvey (artists), Janice Chiang (letterer), Glynis Wein (colorist), Mike Carlin (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in chief)

Brief Description: 

General Locklin tries to enlist the reluctant Forge to share his Neutralizer with human soldiers, but Forge refuses, due to his negative experiences with Agent Gyrich. Meanwhile, Brandy Clarke is confronted with having lost her Starshine power and is desperate. Rom tries in vain to console her. Seeing her and his other comrades Rick Jones and Cyndi Adams deal with their various problems, Rom still longs to be human again. Witnessing Locklin’s talk with Gyrich, Rom decides to talk with Forge himself. In Forge’s Dallas skyscraper, Rom confronts the inventor who explains he is worried about Earth’s governments misusing his weapons, as they did when they robbed the X-Man Storm of her powers. Rom points out the alternative. Their discussion is cut short by the Wraiths attacking the people outside Forge’s home in an attempt to draw him out. Forge finally agrees to Rom’s plea and decides to take up the fight against the Wraiths.

Full Summary: 

Eagle Plaza, Dallas, Texas, home of the mutant inventor Forge currently in a videoconference with General Merriwether Locklin. Forge announces that Locklin and the United States government can both stop wasting his time. Locklin coldly reminds him of who he is and what he stands for. He is commander of a special task force called the Wraith-Hunters Rangers, commissioned by the president himself to battle an alien menace that’s infiltrated Earth. He is talking about the Dire Wraiths.

Forge interrupts him, announcing that he knows all about the Dire Wraiths. Although the government had done its best to cover up their existence and the fact that Earth is at war with them the truth had to be revealed to him, for he was the only human capable of creating a weapon powerful enough to deal with them. Despite that shroud of secrecy, somehow the Wraiths learned of Forge’s efforts and tried to stop him. Luckily, when they attacked, he was neither without defenses… nor friends, he remarks.

Locklin impatiently points out that this should be all the more reason why Forge should apply his inventive genius to combating the Wraith menace, by arming soldiers of Earth with duplicates of Rom’s Neutralizer.

Something like this? Forge asks as he reveals the latest version of his power neutralizer. Locklin exclaims in wonder. How could Forge keep that to himself? Forge explains that this is a fifth generation advance over the prototype he made. The one that was taken from him by one government agent and used by another not against Wraith-kind.

Forge recalls how Valerie Cooper demanded the weapon be used against his express wishes and how Agent Gyrich accidentally shot and de-powered the X-Man Storm with the weapon.

Forge just tells Locklin that an innocent was maimed for life as a result. Eyes downcast, he adds that the injured person was his friend. The government breached more than a contract with him. They breached a sacred trust. He has realized that enormous power placed into unworthy hands can be turned against friend as well as foe and he will not lend his skills to such betrayers. Find yourself another genius, he concludes as he terminates the conversation with Locklin, who calls him a traitor.

The words have some effect, as Forge wonders whether he is a traitor. After all, he betrayed Storm when he created the weapon that stripped her of her elemental powers. Unlike Rom’s Neutralizer, his doesn’t only affect Wraiths but all super-beings. Being a mutant himself, he knows how humans hate them. But what to do about the Dire Wraiths?

Forge stares at the sky, the sun seemingly having a hole growing in it as a result of the Wraith worldmerge spell. He wrestles with his moral quandary.

Elsewhere, Rom stands guard over the sleeping form of his beloved Brandy Clark. He recalls how he originally met her, saved her, how she joined him in his battle as she merged with Spaceknight armor of Starshine, and how that power recently was torn from her by the mutant Hybrid. He fantasizes briefly about being human once more as well, about having a chance to love her, but the dream is disrupted as Brandy finally awakes.

Dimly, she realizes that she is alive. She recalls being hurt in battle and how her light eyes couldn’t save her. She realizes Rom must have beaten Hybrid. However, as she sees her human reflection in Rom’s armor her joy turns to horror.

Rom tells her that she is human once more and that he loves her. What good is being human when there is a war going on? she shouts. She helplessly pounds her pillow as she cries that being human didn’t save her fiancé or friends or family. Being human is to be helpless, to be as good as dead! She informs him that she’d like to be alone for a while.

Rom complies, walking outside the trailer into the Wraithhunter camp. While everyone is busy, nobody yet knows how to stop the Wraith worldmerge spell. Rom notices something unusual, somebody singing. The singer is Rick Jones, the child picking flowers by his side is Cindy Adams. Rick is dying of a cancer incurred when he exposed himself to gamma rays in a misguided effort to become a second Hulk. Cindy is no more fortunate. She saw her parents slain and her childhood destroyed when a Dire Wraith died inside her mind. And yet they find comfort in each other. Watching those two doomed companions, Rom wonders how Brandy can say it is better to be dead than human. He would give his soul to be human again and as happy as they.

But Rom’s illusions regarding human happiness are quickly dispelled as the child ventures too near the edge of the stream. Reflected in the water, she sees the face of a Wraith. Horrified, she searches refuge in Rick’s arms. Rick promises to be always there for her, but breaks down in agony moments later. He explains that the cancer is gnawing away at his insides. Sometimes the pain is too strong.

Angrily, Cyndi shouts that he’s lied to her then. How can he help her hold off the horror inside her when he can’t even help himself? Ricka admits that he doesn’t know.

From some distance, Rom still observes them, musing on human frailty, which he forsook to become a spaceknight, something Brandy fears and he desires most of all. Yet he understand his beloved’s despair he thinks as he looks at the sun and the black spot on it. How can a human help stop the Wraithemrge? Yet despite all the power of this spaceknight armor, how can he?

Rom walks back into the camp towards General Merriwether Locklin’s camper. The general is in an argument with Special Agent Gyrich, who reminds the general that he had predicted Forge’s refusal. Locklin retorts that this makes him suspect Gyrich had dealing with Forge before. Forge spoke of a government agent who has betrayed his trust. That information is classified, Gyrich cuts him off.

Swearing, Locklin informs him that he is sick of fighting a secret war where all his efforts are hamstrung by civilians. If Gyrich hadn’t antagonized Forge, he’d probably be turning out Neutralizers by the dozens for them now. Gyrich unhelpfully suggests they bring Forge up on a charge of treason and Locklin points out how much this will not help. They don’t have time and their only hope is Forge. Then they have no hope, Gyrich bluntly replies. Forge won’t deal with them. Then perhaps, Rom suggests, Forge will deal with him?

In less than an hour, Rom’s rocket pods carry him from the eastern seaboard to Texas and in that time the Wraith’s sorcerous stain on the sun has grown bigger. Rom does not know how much time Earth has left before the sun goes dark and Wraithworld is mystically pulled across the trackless void of space to take Earth’s place in the solar system. He only knows that their sole hope lies with Forge.

The Dire Wraiths determine Rom’s destination. Both Rom and Forge have defeated them before. Together they might succeed in exterminating the Wraiths before the world merge takes effect, they fear. In spite of their current diminished powers, they dare let them join force. Vile incantations and sorcerous spells fill the dank air of the Wraiths’ lair and subsequently the alien being and animals they’ve mystically bred shift and change form. Then in a flood of evil unleashed the Dire Wraiths sweep forth from their subterranean retreat to do battle with Rom spaceknight before he can avert the advent of doomsday.

Meanwhile in Dallas, Forge is still pondering his quandary aloud, wondering if he has the right to withhold his genius with the Earth in such grave danger. Had the children of Galador refused to sacrifice their humanity, his world would be a Wraith colony now, comes the voice of Rom.

After Rom introduces himself, Forge demands to know he o he got past his skyscrapers automatic security systems. Rom manifests his energy analyzer. It detected the flow of energy through the building, so that his neutralizer could negate that flow and shut down Forge’s weapons before they could do him harm. Forge observes that Rom’s devices appear out of nowhere. They are stored in subspace, Rom explains.

Forge muses that he based his prototypes on what the government knew of Rom’s weapon, but it’s clear that Rom’s weapons are so much more powerful than Forge’s. In the wrong hands, they can hurt so many… Both his weapons and he are dedicated to one goal only, the complete banishment of Wraithkind, Rom ventures. And yet, if his weapons were equal to the task, they wouldn’t need him, the inventor points out. Rom admits that he is but one warrior and there are many Wraiths on Earth. But the enemy is desperate. Their latest ploy indicates that they know the end is near. Soon, the Earth will be theirs or they will be banished from this world forever. At this point, the battle could turn either way. Humanity could emerge triumphant or go down to extinction before the evil of the Dire Wraiths. It is Forge’s world. Will he not fight for it?

For his world, yes, replies Forge, but not for its governments, who’d like nothing better than to get their hands on his weapons and turn them on mutants like himself. He built Earth a neutralizer. Maybe it can’t banish Wraiths like Rom’s but it can negate their magic. Unfortunately, he adds, it can also be used to strip every super-being on the face of the planet of their power. He cannot take that chance.

Agitated, he adds that while his mutation is passive his genius at invention is still a superhuman ability. He’d be destroyed too! That’s why he can’t create Neutralizers for Earth. He doesn’t trust his non-powered brethren to use them solely against the Wraiths when they’ve already shown themselves all too willing to use them on people like himself. He doesn’t want the genocide of Homo superior on his hands.

Rom is shocked at the very idea that a power created to fight evil could be used for evil. It’s inconceivable. That’s what a man named Oppenheimer said about the atomic bomb, Forge remarks sadly. He does not intend to repeat Oppenheimer’s mistake. People in power are human, he continues and being human and liking power they hate and fear those who possess more power.

Having witnessed human fear, fragility and futility that day, Rom wonders why he longs so to become human again. He reminds Forge that humanity is nevertheless something to be cherished. He urges the mutant to take the risk, hoping that humans will learn and triumph. Sinking down on a stairway, Forge admits that he doesn’t share Rom’s faith in the inherent goodness of all men.

Their discussion is interrupted by a scream of terror from the street. As the screams grow louder, Forge grabs a pair of binoculars and leads Rom to the observation deck. On the streets below them, they see a mass panic, as Wraiths openly attack the people below in a clear attempt to draw Forge and Rom out.

The sheer terror in the people’s eyes is enough to convince the mutant. He decides to get down - Rom holds him back, reminding him this is what the Wraiths want and what about his refusal to help people. He’s never refused to aid human beings in trouble, Forge clarifies. Rom reminds him that all of Earth is in danger and Forge alone possesses the power to serve as its savior. Yet to do so, he must share his genius with mankind. Forge gives in. The Wraith have convinced him. Earth would be a lousy neighborhood if all he had to share it with were Dire Wraiths. Together, they decide to attack the Wraiths below.

Characters Involved: 



General merriwether Locklin and other Wraith-hunters

Brandy Clarke, Rick Jones, Cyndi Adams (allies of Rom)

Agent Henry Gyrich


in Forge’s memories:

Colossus, Rogue, Storm (all X-Men)

Magik I



Story Notes: 

When Forge says that he was neither without defenses… nor friends when he was attacked by the Dire Wraiths, he is referring to the Uncanny X-Men and some of their allies. [Uncanny X-Men #187-188]

Agent Henry Gyrich stripped the X-Man Storm of her powers with Forge’s Neutralizer in Uncanny X-Men #185.

The Wraiths’ sun-merge spell started in issue #61.

Brandy Clark lost her Starshine powers to Hybrid in Rom annual #3.

In Rom #60, Rom saved Cindy Adams at the moment when a Wraith was attempting to steal her identity. While the girl survived, she now shares her soul with the wraith.

Guilt over causing Banner to be hit with the gamma rays made Rick Jones decide to expose himself to gamma rays in an attempt to become another Hulk-like being that could stop the Hulk. However this plan backfired and Rick was dying of Gamma poisoning until Banner cured him. Unfortunately, this too led to the consequence of Rick developing a form of blood-cancer. Rick was stunned at the irony of this considering what happened to his old friend, Mar-Vell. Rick was going to undergo a massive blood transfusion to treat this ailment when the hospital was attacked by monsters created by the Dire Wraiths. Rick was saved by the Spaceknight, Rom and began to team with Rom, despite the fact that he was slowly dying.

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