Monday, January 02, 2006


Issue #9 of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (OHMU) covers Quasar to She-Hulk and a bunch of lame characters in-between. Not that Quasar isn't lame. (My apologies to the three people out there who love Quasar.)

One of the interesting things about OHMU #9, which was published in 1983, was the amount of space they devoted to some characters. For example, Red Wolf and Scarlet Scarab get full-page entries, but Sabretooth only gets half a page. To be fair, Sabretooth was originally a minor league Iron Fist villain, so I guess that makes sense. But only half a page for Shamrock? WTF? Where is The Love?

You know who does get a full-page entry, as well as a prime spot on the cover?


How can you not love Rom, space knight of Galador? The Rom comic book was a tie-in with the fantastic Rom action figure, a jumbo silver toy that probably never won any design awards, but had a retro charm nevertheless. Keep in mind that back in the eighties, children actually read comic books, so marketing toys through comics actually made sense. I have a few Rom issues that are deserving of a post - I should dig those out.

Myself, I was more of a Shogun Warriors / Big Jim kid, but my friend had a Rom action figure that we tortured, er, played with. We would make Rom battle the Shogun Warriors, Stretch Armstrong, and BB guns. That Rom figure ultimately fell in battle against his mortal foe: lighter fluid.

Vaya con dios, Rom. You served us well.

OHMU #9 also featured the Fantastic Four villain known as The Red Ghost, a Russian commie who could become intangible at will. That's a good enough power as is, right? Anybody else would be satisfied with that, but not Red Ghost. In addition to becoming intangible, The Red Ghost had a trio of super-apes who did his evil bidding.

You hear me: super-apes.

I have no idea how primate henchmen fit into the whole Red Ghost brand identity, but I say if you have the opportunity to use super-ape flunkies, use them! Who cares if they don't fit in with your powers or your costume? "They call me Queen Cobra! I spit venom, I have a lethal bite, and I have these three super-apes that rob liquor stores for me!" See? Super-apes are never a bad idea. I want that phrase on my gravestone.

The Red Ghost also bears an uncanny resemblance to Canadian rock god Neil Young:

Another icon of the four-color world that gets the full=page treatment is The Ringmaster, leader of the Circus of Crime. Armed with a hypnotic top hat and a set of teeth that could open cans of chili, The Ringmaster was a crafty opponent who would hypnotize circus audiences so his henchmen could rob them. I don't know, that seems like the kind of scheme that would only work once, yet the Circus of Crime appeared again and again.

I think The Ringmaster bears more than a passing resemblance to actor Willem Dafoe. Slap a fake moustache on Willem and give him a top hat and The Ringmaster's own mother wouldn't be able to tell them apart.

The Ringmaster's costume isn't just the 'stache and top hat, though. An often overlooked but crucial part of The Ringmaster's wardrobe are his pimp boots, which have a hypnotic allure all their own:

That is the coolest footwear I have seen in my life, better even than Man-Wolf/Stargod's leg warmers and toeless boots. I bet just wearing those bad boys instills The Ringmaster with a sense of confidence, a swagger, a pimp vibe that you just cannot get from normal boots.

I want a pair. Bad.


Anonymous said...

In the recent New Warriors limited series the Super-Apes make a much-awaited reappearance, finally free of that micromanaging grunge rocker, the Red Ghost. Can't tell you how happy I was about that. Apes in comics = pure nanner-powered awesomeness, from Grodd on down. Cold War holdovers with lame powers? Not so much. And he wore fur! How insensitive to your henchmen is that?

Fantomas said...

When I started collecting I really became a fan of ROM. It was a character totally unknown to me, as his toy never reached my country but the stories of this armored warrior rocked. Eventually I found all the issues and it was my favorite book, but all good things come to an end. I sure wish that the rumours were true and someone brings ROM back to comics.

And that ROM cover sure is nice, but I fear that in the Essential OHMU ROM's entry will probably not be included.

A question Dave, have you ever done a review of Suicide Squad on the blog? I would sure like to see your take on that classic series.

lestat said...

The Ringmaster is the spitting image of Willem Defoe's character in David Lynch's Wild at Heart..

Philip Looney said...

I can never look at ROM the same after viewing this site:

That's right, .org - because it's an organization.

sterg said...

I am eagerly awaiting the OHMU entry on lighter fluid...

Björn said...

About the super apes: Since Ivan Kragoff was from Soviet Russia it seems like Lee and Kirby knew what they were doing.

Steven Taylor said...

I enjoyed ther ROM comic, but never owned the toy.

I still have the full run stored around here somewhere...

Anonymous said...

No way, the Ringmaster is Bootsy Collins.

Arizonateacn said...

I think I just lost the will to live after reading Rom and Me. I mean, is that a guy or a chick?!?

Yeah, anyone want to buy a complete run of Rom from me, because I don't think I can look at them anymore.

BitterCupOJoe said...



word verification: mrxhck. A lesser known DC 4th dimensional imp.

Mob said...

ROM was awesome. One of the first comics I recall reading was a ROM annual where the spaceknight guys have to go rescue him from the Wraithworld. Very OTT. Great stuff.

The Ringmaster needs to make a comeback. Maybe he could hook up with that guy in the lastest issue of Runaways who has the mechanical Pimp Hands.

Grotesqueticle said...

Don't hate on the individual at the romnme site. You have to admire his obsession. He/she is building a life-size Rom model! (And, judging by the pics, doing a pretty good job) That is so obsessive that it comes around full-circle into coolness. Sorta.

Ian said...

(My apologies to the three people out there who love Quasar.)

Those three people are Dave Fiore, Tim O'Neil and Ian Brill

J'onn J'onzz said...

Quasar is great! HE IS NOT LAME! He had a great writer hooray for Quasar!

Bill said...

The deal with the Red Ghost and the Super-Apes was, I believe, that they were part of the Russian Space Program, and the apes were test animals.

Mike P said...

fantomas wrote:A question Dave, have you ever done a review of Suicide Squad on the blog? I would sure like to see your take on that classic series.

I'm probably overstepping my boundaries here and making countless enemies in the process, but he reviewed a few issues where Kobra was the villian.
Here's the link.

Edward Liu said...

Didn't the Red Ghost and the Super-Apes show up in that Spider-Man/Human Torch mini-seris by Dan Slott and Ty Templeton? It's the same issue where the Spider-Mobile appears, and the downfall of the bad guys is a bunch of individually wrapped fruit pies. Just one of many reasons why Dan Slott Rocks.

And if Willem Dafoe isn't available to be the Ringmaster, then I think Steve Buscemi would be an adequate substitute.

Word confirmation is "dzhiyhwd," which gets a "gesunteit" from one of the Super Apes if the Red Ghost says it.

Polly said...

ROM! cannot underestimate how popular that toy was. i remember EARLY on when i became a 'comic collector' (instead of just reader of whatever i found), one of the 1st back issues i ever bought (at a CON no less!) was Rom #1.

It was $5.

Rom #1 was never worth $5 at any point in time. haw! i rember thinking "MAN! i gotta get ROM #1! he was so popular, that's gotta be a KEY comic to have!"

yeah. exactly.

Adrian said...

I only ever had one Rom issue (one of the annuals), but it was one of my favorite comics as a kid so i loved Rom. Not nearly as much as Ceoia, thank God. I'm desparately hoping for the sake of my sanity that her life-size ROM model is not, um, anatomically correct. Given the tone of his/her writing about Rom, however, I somewhat suspect that it is...

Adrian said...

Oh, wait, I forgot, Rom wouldn't have any "anatomically correct" parts, because when he became a Space Knight the Galadorians removed all his squishy bits except for his brain, right? Which is too bad for him, but a tremendous relief for me. Ceoia seems rather deluded, but you just know that she will be absolutely 100% faithful to the original, so she'll just sigh and angst about how since Rom no longer has any organic parts they can never be together.

Anonymous said...

The trifecta: Rom, Power Pack, and The Micronauts...

Didnt the Micronauts have toys too?Neither held a candle to those secert wars toys. Spidey with a shield? AND a hologram?!


Anonymous said...

"My mind just couldn't take this, it reels with shock and pain. The pain is so great that my emotions went numb. I went numb, unable to function properly. I have been through Sept 11 and being abandoned by my spouse, both I stood and felt, but this..this was just to much for my mind to bear! It hurts so bad that I couldn't even cry! My body screams, "NO!!"

.... You should have seen him when they cancelled futurama...

Brian W said...

Coincidentally, the Ringmaster is in the new issue of X-Men & Power Pack. Not, uh, that I was reading it or anything. He still has the boots.

Chance said...

Willem Defoe. Pimp Boots.

You have got the Ringmaster down, my friend.

Mike P said...

Dammit, now I remember why I was going to post earlier. It's because I really enjoy the blog entries about the "OHotMU". Please do more.

Anonymous said...

ROM looks so sad in that pic

Tim O'Neil said...

Here I was going to say it, but Ian already said it.

Quasar is The Man.

The most powerful member of the Avengers. Don't believe me? He's basically Green Lantern without ANY limitations.

Also one of the smartest - he actually LEARNS from his mistakes and fixes his weaknesses. Early on in his series he was mind-controlled, like, twice, by suckers like Modred and MODAM - so wouldn't you know it, he fixed it so he couldn't be mind controlled. He had let his hand to hand combat skills since he was merely SHIELD agent Wendell Vaughnn, so he went out and practiced and next thing you know he was busting out with nunchucks like a mofo.

Yeah, that's right. NUNCHUCKS.

He actively sought to end conflicts with nonviolence and communication. At least in the early days, he addressed older people - even villains, for God's sake - as "Sir". You can't make that up.

Sure, he kinda let Thanos kill him, um, twice, but both deaths were editorially mandated. You can't really blame that on him or Mark Gruenwald.

But man - he rocked. Quasar is why Kyle Raynor sucked - because Quasar was basically the same concept as Kyle Raynor, only done right, years before anyone at DC had the idea to give the ring to a nobody putz and have him flail around like a little bitch for a decade.

So yeah, Quasar was the man. If you ask me right now whether or not I'd rather get my book published and become a world famous author or spearhead a Quasar revival, the fact that I would actually have to think about it whould probably tell you that I'm absolutely insane.

Scott said...


The Micronauts were a very popular line of toys that went on to become a fairly populat Marvel comic (and a frequent "gateway" comic, leading innocent youngsters into a life of comic collecting).

The original comic was surprisingly good, but it got worse the longer it ran. There was even an X-Men/Micronauts cross-over as well that was fairly awful, but I think it was the first comic to have Xavier's psyche be a villain (a la "Onslaught") and introduced his gladiator look.

Ken S. said...

More Quasar love here.

1) I just read his entire series for the first time, I loved (most of) it.

2) I just launched a blog of my own, and review the series is next up (V for Vendetta won out today).

Ken S. said...

Oh, and Red Ghost shows up in Quasar, to boot. No apes with him, though.

John DiBello said...

My gosh golly god, how I loved the OHOTMU when they first came out. How much? So much that I devised, drew and wrote similar pages for my own fan fiction teen mutant superhero characters. Still have 'em. Embarassing, yes. But anything that inspires creativity is a good thing. I keep telling myself that. Again and again.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the the reply scott,

Youre right, if it wasnt for the bloodless violence of GI Joe this 29 year old comic whore would be living a very mild-mannered life and not be the only one in the theater cackling at Kevin Smith comic book in jokes. Oh, the pain...

I can honestly say I dont think I ever read a micronauts comic. Being a kid of the 80's I think it just all looked to disco-y and wanna be saturday morning japanese robot cartoony for my taste.

I guess I preferred the sweaty, rugged manliness of muscled armed men chasing guys named "Destro" and "Zartan" through a swamp to the cries of "yo joe!"...


Rick said...

Did they ever say 'yo-joe' in the comic?

I think that was strictly for the cartoon....

David Campbell said...

Holy crap, Tim makes a compelling case for Quasar! I've got some thinking to do...

Ken S. said...

I'll have to do my series review right away then.

Here's a preview: It was really good for the first 25 or so issues, and had some seriously cool nods to Julius Schwartz era heroes, particularly Flash and Green Lantern. After a while, it started to repeat itself, and worse, got caught several times in Crossover Hell. Plus, they Image-ized the art. Yuck.

Tim O'Neil said...

I'd say it was really good for the first thirty-some issues, until it ran smack-dab into the Infinity War, whic hderailed the book so bad it never quite recovered.

And it had early Greg Capullo art, which was A LOT better than later Greg Capullo art. Plus Paul Ryan and Mike Manley are somewhere in the first couple years as well.

Marionette said...

First ten issues of Micronauts were great, with that fantastic Michael Golden art. After that it meandered a bit and got very A-Team. I have a vague memory of a double sized special issue that was basically one big fight and after the heroes defeated the villains they basically just let them go again.

And then it came out of the slump around issue #50, which despite resurrecting the Darth Vader clone arch villain (I forget the name) led to by far the strongest run of stories in the series, so inevitably it was cancelled within the year.

It resurfaced a year or two later but although it featured the same characters they were barely recognisable and I didn't read more than a couple of issues. I believe the license has spawned a new series in recent years, but as far as I am aware the only thing it has in common with the Marvel comic is the visuals taken from the toy line they were based on.

DougBot said...

I keep hoping that there will be an ESSENTIAL ROM volume, but for some reason I doubt it highly.

I mean, come on. Essential Ant-Man. ROM would totally win.

kelvingreen said...

The Ringmaster needs to make a comeback. Maybe he could hook up with that guy in the lastest issue of Runaways who has the mechanical Pimp Hands.
He stole a shard of a Cosmic Cube and turned up in Kirkman's Marvel Team-Up, dropping an elephant on Spidey at one point.

I believe the license has spawned a new series in recent years, but as far as I am aware the only thing it has in common with the Marvel comic is the visuals taken from the toy line they were based on.
Nothing to do with Micronauts, but is Marvel getting any money from the new Red Sonja series, considering that Sonja was never a chainmail bikini barbarienne in the original stories, and that aspect of the character was a Marvel invention?

Martin Wisse said...

You know who was responsible for not just the Rom goodness, but also the Micronauts *and* Shogun Warriors?

Bill Mantlo! That's who!

The most underrated writer Marvel ever had, who sadly left comics shortly after the Jim Shooter haters had taken over at Marvel, went on to become a lawyer (!) and then sadly had an accident that left him paralysed.

But he was so good he could make these toy based comics actually interesting, especially Micronauts, which, as The Comics Journal reported at the time, came about because his kids were playing with the toys and he got intrigued....

As for Quasar: don't diss the Q-man! He's a hero who was truly different: polite, modest, cheerful and inventive.

He had the G-man, Mark Gruenwald, mr OHOTMU himself, as his writer and he took full advantage, bringing back all sort of weird spacebased characters: the Stranger, Jack of Hearts, Her, Maelstrom, Squadron Supreme, NEW frikking UNIVERSE!

The only thing that was a letdown was the art, which towards the end of the series was weak, as after Image happened and Marvel decided to publish 5,000 titles a month and every other comics publisher in the US started their own comics line, there weren't any good artists left anymore to serve on a low selling title like Quasar, or Captain America, for that matter.

Anonymous said...

I've never posted a comment, but I do now because I want more posting of ROM!

Zach said...

Super apes are the new pirates!

David Lawson said...


Man, that site is so wrong...

It should be Rom and I.

Mister Sinister said...

Ringmaster is Riddler w/ stars, a hat, & a mustache. Factor in play as well
Most of the people in this one are dead or suck so much they should be
I'll glaze over them

Rama-Tut- why do they keep making stories over him? HE'S KANG! in egypt

Recorder- a robot from space that records stuff. The backass worthless version of the Watcher

Rom-his suck cannot be explained in words

Sabra- a black Israeli woman who can lift 50 tons. We can dig it yo

Salem's Seven- most of them suck their all dead now

Red Wolf- who?

The Savage Land- not a person or character

Scarecrow- shittier version of DC's minus any helping gimmick that would make him suck LESS

Scarlet Scarab's I & II-

Scorpion- oh you mean Venom

Sentinels- need bra

Sersi- need personality & death

Shaman- token Native American Man

Shamrock- showed up once. never seen again

Shanna the She-Devil- (drool)

Shaper of Worlds- Looks stupid
is badass
he's posing like he should be holding a cup of coffee.

Yeah, Glorian, gonna need them TPS reports. that'd be great... thanks


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