Ugh, Lobo. I feel like that should be the tagline for this article. Every page I flipped through would end with a contemptuous sigh and a resigned roll of my eyes. I was even reluctant to review “Lobo” in the first place. Not only did they take a character that I love away from me but they also put me in a weird position. For the first time in comic books history a character was redesigned aesthetically to appeal to a female audience. After that Spider-Woman fiasco, I’m all for ladies getting some eye candy. Seems only fair since 95% of comics are designed to appeal to the worst part of men. But—and this is a big but, what if they make Lobo beautiful but as emotionally captivating as a tin of wallpaper paste?
I legitimately did research to prepare for “Lobo.” Perusing the internet, I went from site to site trying to find a concise and comprehensive synopsis of the new Lobo in the new 52. After finding a lot of nothing I uncovered this little tid bit—this is the third revamp of the character. That’s when I remembered, Lobo was originally brought in by Rob Liefield in the pages of “Deathstroke”. And true to Rob Liefield form, the character was a boring anti-hero with the personality of a polystyrene cup. He lasted all of three issues before he dropped out of continuity and they brought in the Lobo we all knew and loved. So why do I bring up the Rob Liefield Lobo if he passed so quickly? Because new Lobo is just as boring.
This article could quickly devolve into me analyzing Lobo in the DC universe but DC has made their decision, they’re sticking with Bland Lobo so I’d best pull on my big boy pants and talk about the actual book. And right out the gate “Lobo” takes a big misstep and falls on its ass. The first page is a back and forth between old Lobo and new Lobo; it’s a series of close-ups but we can see there’s been a punch up between the two. Then the camera pulls back and reveals new Lobo already beheaded old Lobo. I’m sorry, two fighting powerhouses fight each other in a huge spectacle and you decide to show the end bit where one of them is already dead? Have you not read comic books before? Or did somebody lobotomize all the fun out of your brain? If you are so set on killing off my “imposter” Lobo, the least you could do is give him a proper send off. Instead the bulk of the book is new Lobo going to Earth and whining about it the entire time—on of the stranger ways I’ve seen a writer try and develop Lobo’s character. The strangest way was the weird dream sequences where Lobo was a painter.
There’s a period of time in the book where Lobo is unconscious so the Cullen Bunn used the opportunity to characterize the character with dream memories. But before we talk about that, let me jump back in time. Remember that the original origin story for Lobo was a merciless killer who was the last of his race because he had killed all the others. Now contrast that with new Lobo who was the bodyguard for the Emperor of Czarnia and having an illicit affair with his daughter. In this dream memory, Lobo first paints the Empress before making love to her in glowing pastels. This wasn’t sex, no this was romantic and passionate. A single panel of this dream could grace the cover of any raunchy romance book. Then his entire world melts away in fire… Ugh, you “Batman”ed Lobo. He went from an implicitly immoral character to a tragic hero forced into this life by a cataclysmic event. This removes all agency from this character; he is now a very reactionary character. The thing about old Lobo was that true he was an asshole but he was unapologetically an asshole who didn’t have a second thought about his misdeeds. New Lobo will either be a tragic victim of circumstance or a wayward soul who has to redeem himself through his actions.
I’m not against characters getting a revamp, many could use the update. But the problem with the “Lobo” update is its ditching all of the things that made this character unique and interesting and replacing it with a bland tough guy that I couldn’t care less about. There’s not much I can compare “Lobo” to in “Invincible”. The character is clearly pandering in the worst ways possible. There are bad ass characters in “Invincible” that have actual depth to them. Mark Grayson’s alien brother is a good example. This is a character that has absolutely no qualms with killing—he didn’t bat an eye at possible genocide. Battle Beast is another character whose badassery is notable. But in the book, these two are supporting characters at best. If your entire point for Lobo is to prove his bad assness, it’s going to be a really boring read because as a character he is as appealing as a detergent smoothie.