"ROM came from a line of exactly one toy: A blocky, barely articulated robot produced by Parker Brothers. No villains, no backstory, just a robot that looked like an extremely militant toaster with a trio of accessories..."
"Still, this points to a pretty interesting aspect of the character: When it was handed to Mantlo, there was only the vaguest idea of what he was meant to do. Pretending was all you had when you got a toy that came with a gun with nobody to shoot, which I’m sure led countless ROM toys to end up as bad guys who felt the sting of GI Joe’s kung-fu grip. So Mantlo had to create virtually everything about ROM from scratch, using only “comes from space,” “analyzes energy to determine whether creatures are good or evil” and “sends bad guys to the shadow zone” as his only guidelines. While books like G.I. Joe — which had actually been created as a Nick Fury pitch — would more or less stick to their own continuity, Mantlo went with a simple solution and rather than creating everything from scratch, sent ROM on “a dread mission of cosmic vengeance“ right smack dab in the middle of the Marvel Universe..."
"It gave his stories a ready-made setting that the comics readers of the time would be familiar with, and ROM fit right into the mold of the soliloquizing, misunderstood hero who was bummed out about his circumstances but determined to use his power to fight for good, blending elements of the Hulk, the X-Men and the Silver Surfer. Mantlo’s ROM was a cyborg — not a robot, as the toy had been billed — who came to earth from the planet Galador..."
Two hundred years ago, Galador had been attacked by the Dire Wraiths, a wholly evil shapeshifting race of sorcerors from the Dark Nebula, who gained their magic powers from a black sun and were later revealed to be a deviant offshoot of Marvel’s longstanding alien menaces, the Skrulls..."
""I just want to go through that one more time real quick: ROM fights shapeshifting witches from outer space. And that is rad..."
"...ROM then spent the next two centuries battling them across the galaxy, only to discover that they had made plans to take over — you guessed it –the planet Earth. The catch was that rather than doing a full-scale military invasion, the shape-shifting race had completely infiltrated all levels of Earth society, passing themselves off as human while secretly engaging in outer-space witchcraft, decades before that same setup was revisited in the Marvel crossover Secret Invasion."
"The hook, though, was that ROM was so weary from 200 years of constant warfare that he didn’t bother to explain any of this to humans. He just showed up, checked people out with his Analyzer (the device that allowed ROM to “see if creatures are good or evil” in the toy ad). If they were actually Dire Wraiths in disguise, he’d then use his Neutralizer to send them to limbo, a Comics Code-approved solution that was basically riffing on the old Superman standby of dropping crooks into the Phantom Zone. Unfortunately for ROM, this was a process that looked an awful lot like an alien robot came out of the sky and started vaporizing random citizens with laser beams..."
"Of course, it wasn’t all quite that heavy. There were plenty of stories that were crafted from the same pure fun of overblown comic book melodrama that fueled the X-Men. Heck, those guys even made several appearances in issues that involved a half-Dire Wraith mutant named Hybrid, who is unquestionably the most hideous villain ever designed..."
"With the end of ROM: Spaceknight, the rights to the character left Marvel, and while that means that we never got to see what amazing horrors a ROM book circa 1991 would’ve looked like, it also means that they can’t be reprinted..."
AND DON'T FORGET HE ALSO MADE PERSONAL APPEARANCES!
"ROM is a relatively new arrival to Marvel's personal appearance group. He is the first Marvel "space character" a kindly spaceknight who stars in his top selling monthly comic book. Rom's sophisticated devices, flashing lights and sound effects make him a lively act."