Spaceknights is a name used by at least three distinct groups of fictional characters appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The better-known group is a core concept of the 1980s comic book Rom Spaceknight, while the other two are far more recent creations and not much is yet known about them.
The original Spaceknights are an organization appearing in the Marvel Comics universe. It is an elite group of cyborg humanoids from the planet Galador, created to battle the Dire Wraiths. Rom the Spaceknight is the most well-known member.
The idea of the Spaceknights was invented by the Parker Brothers toy company as part of the background for their toy character of Rom, but it was developed in the Marvel Rom comic, in 1979, by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema. Marvel retains ownership of the Spaceknight characters today.
Galador was located in a galaxy known only as "The Golden Galaxy." Galador was a paradisaical planet, with very advanced technology. Galadorians seem to be identical to normal humans, though why this is so was never explained. Also, it would seem Galadorians have a longer lifespan than Earth humans. Two hundred years ago, the planet was ruled by a man known as "The Prime Director" and its scientists had already developed a class of angel-like warriors using genetic engineering. However, when it was discovered that the evil shapeshifters known as the Dire Wraiths were invading their galaxy, the Galadorian government decided that it would be necessary to create cyborg warriors to defend the planet from them. The Prime Director himself asked the people of Galador to volunteer, promising them that their "humanity" (the body parts that would need to be removed to implant the Spaceknights' Armor) would be preserved frozen and later restored to them after the threat had passed. At first the Galadorians were hesitant, until a young man called Rom became the first volunteer. Inspired by his example, a total of 1,000 Galadorians underwent the process, and were transformed into Spaceknights- each superstrong and capable of space flight, but each having a different special power or weapon, as well as an individual form and codename. Rom was given the Neutralizer, Galador's most powerful weapon, to use.
The Spaceknights formed a ring around the planet and waited for the Wraith space fleet to reach them. After a great battle, the Spaceknights managed to repel them. Rom chased them back to their home, Wraithworld, but this caused the Wraiths to flee in all directions, infiltrating various other planets. Feeling responsible, Rom swore he would not reclaim his humanity until every Wraith in the Universe had been defeated. Once again, the other Spaceknights followed his example.
Besides Rom, other known early Spaceknights include Starshine, Terminator (whose black armor could fire destructive eyebeams), and Firefall (known as Karas prior to becoming a Spaceknight, whose red armor could manifest a magical force called the Living Fire). Firefall was captured by the Wraiths and his body was killed when they dissected it, but he managed to survive by using the Living Fire to send his soul into Limbo. Terminator ended up killing an innocent alien during one of his berserker rages, and he was tried for murder, found guilty, and seemingly executed. It was this event that led Rom to leave Galador permanently. (Unknown to him, Terminator had been saved by an evil Spaceknight called Mentus, who used him in his schemes.)
Two hundred years later, Rom arrived on Earth. There he battled an Earth human who had been given the Firefall armor by the Wraiths, but who soon died in battle. The Wraiths tried to replicate the Spaceknight armor, which led to the creation of the uniforms used by The Rocketeers and the Torpedoes. While fighting The Hybrid, Rom was banished to Limbo with his own Neutralizer; there he met Karas, who helped him return to Earth with his Living Fire, and warned him of trouble in Galador. Rom returned to his homeworld, where he ended up facing Mentus, Terminator and Galactus; his humanity was apparently destroyed in the process. He was then returned to Earth.
Starshine arrived on Earth soon after, following Rom, whom she had fallen in love with, but was soon killed by a Wraith. She was buried in Clairton, West Virginia, where Rom had set up his operations, but was soon dug up by Brandy Clark, a local girl who had fallen in love with Rom, and magically given her armor by a Wraith Sorcerer called Doctor Dredd. She was transformed back to normal not long afterwards by The Hybrid.
Meanwhile, a second generation of Spaceknights had been created in Galador to protect the planet. However, these came to feel superior to normal Galadorians, and began to hunt them all down. The now-human Brandy was transported to Galador by The Beyonder, since she wanted to be reunited with Rom after all the Dire Wraiths in the universe lost their powers. Rom arrived in time to save Brandy but not the human Galadorians; nor could he prevent the destruction of all the Spaceknights' humanities. With help from the original Spaceknights, the evil ones were destroyed. Rom then found his humanity — left for him to claim by Galactus — and became human again, staying on Galador with Brandy to repopulate the planet. The other Spaceknights left to protect the planet from afar and continue fighting evil across space.
In the Spaceknights limited series (2000, by Jim Starlin and Chris Batista) we see that Rom and Brandy have two sons, Balin and Tristan, who have become part of a new generation of Spaceknights. Note that these characters are named after two legendary knights, Sir Balin and Sir Tristan.
The 6 issue miniseries Annihilation has the Spaceknights from the Starlin miniseries (including one of Rom's sons) being led by the Fantastic Four villain Blastaar. They were featured most prominently (albeit still briefly) in issue #5. In issue #6, doubts about the Spaceknights' survival were expressed.
The 2013 event series Infinity shows Galador under attack by the armada of an alien race known as the Builders. SpaceKnights, outfitted with emergency upgrades from the Prime Director, defend the planet until the Builders trigger a doomsday weapon, seemingly annihilating the planet. Rom is not shown among the SpaceKnight defenders.
In Annihilation: Conquest Prologue, Galadorian ships and Spaceknights appear over the Kree homeworld Hala where the space hero Peter Quill (Star-Lord) has arranged for them to demonstrate a new defense program known as "A-ware". The lead Spaceknight is known as 'Daystar' and interfaces with the Kree computer War-net by downloading the defense program from his gauntlet. A scenario is then run but things go haywire as the Kree Sentinel robots begin attacking Kree ships in orbit. Quill attempts to get the War-net rebooted but is stopped by Daystar. It becomes apparent that the Spaceknights have been infected with the "Technovirus' and are under the control of the nanotechnology-based race known as The Phalanx. Quill kills one of the Galadorians during an escape attempt but the others survive. It is revealed that several of the Spaceknights' "Crusade Missions" have been assimilated into the Phalanx having lost contact with their home world while in Kree Space. This causes the Galadorians to send a Spaceknight as a part of the efforts to get past the energy barrier surrounding Kree Space, along with surviving members of the Kree as well as representatives from Spartoi, Badoon, and Rigel.
Later, it is indicated that a situation with Spaceknights needs to be resolved by S.W.O.R.D., an Earth-based agency dedicated to alien situations.
A Spaceknight is found by the Intelligencia. It becomes active, and transforms into Ultron, bringing him back to Earth.
List of Spaceknights
The following characters are known Spaceknights from Galador:
In Marvel's Earth X series, Captain America and the young Captain Marvel travel to Limbo where they are confronted by the Dire Wraiths as well as Mephisto. They are saved by Rom, whom Captain America refers to only as "the Greatest of the Spaceknights" due to Marvel's lack of ownership of the Rom character.
The name Spaceknights is currently being used by a government-sponsored superteam in Chicago in the series Avengers: The Initiative. Nothing is known about the team, but it is likely unrelated to the previous Spaceknights organization.