Rom #63

Issue Date: 
February 1985
Story Title: 
Space Race!

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: 

As he and Rom battle the Wraiths outside his skyscraper headquarters in Dallas, Texas, Forge realizes he has to help somehow… on his own terms. He agrees to build a Neo-neutralizer in space that is to be powered by Rom’s neutralizer, thus ensuring that the two of them have control over who it is used against. They are attacked in space but manage to beat the Wraiths with the help of an unwilling Agent Gyrich. Back on Earth, Brandy manages to rouse herself from her self-pity to help Cyndi Adams.

Full Summary: 

The flames consuming Dallas, Texas rise even to the skyscraper home of the mutant inventor Forge, as the Dire Wraiths attack the people under the skyscraper to draw him out. Rom and Forge, with a jetpack on his back, attack the aliens and Rom points out that Forge is worried that humankind may misuse the weaponry Forge is capable of producing. Yet, unless he arms humanity, the Wraiths may see to it that mankind ceases to exist. Forge admits that he is convinced.

During battle, Forge notes that, while Rom’s Neutralizer transports the Wraiths to Limbo, his facsimile Neutralizers aren’t nearly as powerful as Rom’s. His weapon merely negates Wraith magic. As he fires the gun at the Hellhounds, they revert to their original form of harmless Dobermann pinschers.

Anxious, the Wraiths see Forge’s weapon in action and it is too powerful for their liking. They attempt to kill Forge. However, as Forge blasts them, they lose their deathwing guise and return to their original shape, allowing Rom to banish them. Rom warns Forge of another Wraith nearing behind him and Forge hurts it with the backwash from his rocket-pod. Noting to himself to file that stunt away for future reference, he sees some dark shape in front of him as a Wraith morphs into its sinister deathwing form. But that too can be stopped by Forge’s Neutralizer. Bereft of their powers, the Wraiths fall and Rom has no trouble banishing them to Limbo.

The rest of the Wraiths decide to flee, comforting themselves with the thought that it will take time for Forge to arm humanity against them and humanity has no time. The black hole in the heart of the sun grows larger, drawing Wraithworld to Earth. When the worldmerge is completed, no weapon forged on Earth or Galador will avail them against the Wraiths.

Forge announces that they beat the Wraiths. Did they? Rom asks and suggests Forge look at the sun. The worldmerge spell continues. And it will continue as long as a single Wraith remains on Earth. He cannot eradicate them alone. So he wants him to arm Earth with thousand Neutralizers? Forge muses. He can’t do that. He already gave the government one and they used it to cripple a friend. But there’s another way…

With all of Earth in a state of emergency, it takes less than 24 hours to get the construction of a giant neutralizer in space underway. The work crew toil feverishly, while Forge in a hover chair and Rom watch proceedings. He never would have imagined the nations of Earth capable of setting aside their differences so swiftly, Rom marvels. Forge agrees but apparently the threat of extinction spurs international cooperation. He just hopes it hasn’t come too late.

Rom worries that, where each mystical black tentacle from the “hole” in the sun touches Earth, another disaster is unleashed on the poor planet. That’s not their problem now, Forge insists. Rom worries about the many who will die. Everyone will die if the Wraiths succeeds, Forge reminds him. Their job is to prevent that.

Rom admires the wisdom of Forge’s scheme. Instead of building a multitude of neutralizers not under his control, Forge is instead building a neo-neutralizer in orbit directed at Earth to be powered by Rom’s weapon, meant to eradicate every Wraith upon the planet at the same moment.

Forge agrees that it was the only way. He can’t trust individual members of mankind with his Neutralizer after Agent Gyrich used his prototype to depower Stom. His weapon in their hands would enable them to bring down every superbeing to their level. Even if he weren’t a mutant himself, he still wouldn’t entrust men like Gyrich with that kind of power.

Not too far away, Gyrich interrupts that Forge just oversees the building of the space cannon and they’ll handle the delegation of power. It will be the governments of Earth who determine how and against whom it will be used. That’s exactly what Forge is afraid of. He figures that he’ll have to think of something to insure that it’s never used again anyone residing on Earth. Rom reminds Forge that it will still be his weapon that powers Forge’s and he has his word as spaceknight that his weapon will only be turned against Wraithkind, but can the weapon be finished before the worldmerge? Barring trouble and treachery it can, the inventor replies.

Another spaceshuttle arrives, bringing the weapon’s power-core. Unbeknownst to the heroes, the crew of the approaching shuttle has been killed and replaced by Wraiths, who plan to destroy the neutralizer.

Back on Earth in a dream, Brandy Clark is fleeing for her life from Wraiths. In her terror, Brandy once again seems to summon the power she has lost as Stashine. But the moment passes and the Wraith kills her.

Brandy awakes from her nightmare with a scream. She looks into a mirror and realizes once again that she no longer has the power of Starshine. She remembers how Hybrid stripped her of her powers. In despair, she sinks down on her bed, moaning that without that power she will die just like she dreamt.

Crying, she doesn’t hear the door open as Cyndi Adams steps inside. The little girl wants to offer some help, as the Wraith hurt Brandy almost as much as herself but her thoughts turn to killing her as the Wraith inside her head momentarily takes over. Get out of my mind! she cries and Brandi recognizes her as the child she and Rom saved from the train when she was Starshine. With tears in her eyes, Cyndi admits she wishes they hadn’t saved her. She can’t stand living like this. The Wraith that killed her parents died while trying to steal her mind. It’s always inside her thoughts. She can’t escape it. Brandy’ thoughts turn from her own plight to comforting Cindy.

Meanwhile in orbit, Forge alert Rom to something wrong. His wrist-Analyzer is detecting the presence of Wraiths. Rom realizes that they must be in the approaching shuttle. In some way, the Wraiths must have commandeered it. Rom materializes his own Analyzer from subspace and scans the astronauts accompanying the shuttle. It confirms Forge’s fears. Spells coruscate forth from the Wraith’s fingertips, attempting to destroy the neo-neutralizer, spells which swirl around the spaceknight and bind him.

With Rom helpless, the Wraiths turn toward Forge, intent on killing him with laser-wielding torches. Touching a knob on the arm of his flight-chair, Forge thrusts away from the oncoming Wraiths with a burst of compressed nitrogen gas. Rom, in the meantime with a supreme effort, shatters the sorcerous shackles.

Another incantation and the Wraiths summon meteorites from the heavens to drive Rom back and keep him busy while their sisters deal with Forge. Luckily, the inventor equipped his flightchair with one of his Neutralizers, which keeps the Wraiths from using their magic against him. But there are so many things besides sorcery which can kill a man in space…

Inside another shuttle, Gyrich observes the ongoings. With Forge lost so will be the Neo-Neutralizer and Gyrich’s plan to neutralize Earth’s superpowered beings. He orders the shuttle’s pilot to bring the shuttle into position. They’re going to save that stinking mutant! And so the shuttle slowly shifts towards the floating combatants.

A Wraith, in the meantime, attacks Forge with a welding torch, intending to burn a hole into his spacesuit. Forge sends an electrical charge though the flight chair into the Wraith, frying it. But another one is coming and he’s only got enough juice to sustain life-support systems. However, even as the Wraith grabs hold of Forge, the shuttle’s grapple-arm grabs the Wraith’s human-shaped head and squeezes hard.

Not bad for a mere human, eh mutant? Gyrich asks Forge, who has no chance to comment for the remaining Wraith come at him again. With some compressed nitrogen left, he steers his flight chair in another position and blasts the Wraith with all the unspent fuel in his retro rockets. The maneuver leaves Forge’s flight chair helplessly drifting, while Rom is still pursued by the comet dispatched by the Wraiths, which follows him no matter where he flies. Perhaps he can use this against the Wraiths, he figures, and flies right through the shuttle with the Wraiths aboard. Moments later, the comet hits them, destroying the shuttle.

Rom flies toward Forge. It seems they both survived, he states. May Earth fare as well? It will, Forge replies, if they can finish the orbiting Neutralizer in time… for it would appear that Earth’s final hour is upon them.

Characters Involved: 



Brandy Clark

Cyndi Adams

Agent Henry Gyrich

Shuttle crew


Dire Wraiths


Story Notes: 

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 the moment when a Wraith was attempting to steal her identity. While the girl survived, she now shares her soul with the Wraith.

Issue Information: 
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