Sunday, January 26, 2020

Longbox Junk - Lobo

Welcome back to Longbox Junk, the place to find comic reviews you never asked for!

This time out, we're taking a look at a character that was incredibly popular in the 90's, had a strange reboot in the New 52 that NOBODY liked, and now returns in his original form as part of DC's Rebirth. I'm talking about Lobo.

Lobo is one of those "Love him or hate him" characters that you don't really see much middle ground on. He's a character that defines the best AND the worst of the 90's, but yet has somehow survived into the present day of comics.

Lobo has had a long, strange ride over the years. That's for certain. Join me as I head back to the beginning and take a look at the 4 issue mini-series that REALLY put Lobo on the shelves and kept him there. Does it still hold up 30 years down the road? Let's find out!

LOBO
DC (1990)

THE LAST CZARNIAN
SCRIPT: Kieth Giffen & Alan Grant
PENCILS: Kieth Giffen & Simon Bisley
COVERS: Simon Bisley

ISSUE 1
Portrait of a Psychopath


This story takes place when Lobo was an unwilling agent of L.E.G.I.O.N. and is entirely dependent on that continuity, which hurts the story a bit, unlike a lot of the later Lobo tales that ignore the L.E.G.I.O.N. connection. That said, despite this being an in-continuity story instead of a standalone, it's not bad.

The writers do a good job of letting us know what the status quo is and who the characters are, so a trip to the internet for a 90's DC/ L.E.G.I.O.N. continuity refresher isn't needed. The story is humorous, but not in a "laugh out loud" way. 30 years down the road, it's hard to remember a time when these comedy beats were fresh.

As far as the art goes, I'm in the "Bisley can do no wrong." camp. He's a modern legend and for good reason. Unfortunately, he's not the only artist on this series, and you can easily spot where Giffen had a hand in things. Bisley is clearly the superior here, but there's a bigger problem with the art in this book. . .the paper and the inks don't do Bisley's art any favors. The cheap paper combined with sloppy inks make some of the panels a mess. The coloring in some places makes it even worse.



All in all, except for the sloppy inks and the overplayed (for today) humor, I liked this first issue a lot. It had some great moments and did a good job introducing the players.

ISSUE 2
Lord of the Dance

After a great (with a few stumbles) first issue, the story settles into a slower groove as more players are introduced into the mix for what is sure to be an epic confrontation between Lobo and several competing groups of enemies at the end of it all.

Unfortunately, the same things that I found wrong with the first issue are also to be found here. The book is funny and violent, but reading it 30 years after it came out, it's hard to believe that at one time, this was considered outrageous or controversial. Not that it's BAD, it just doesn't age as well as it should.

I can tell that there's a lot more Bisley than Giffen in this issue, and that's definitely a good thing. Unfortunately, the cheap paper and sloppy inks still conspire to muddy things up. That and I think the coloring might even be worse on this issue than the first.


Some badly-inked panels are almost impossible to make out, while others are splashed with bright pinks, greens, and blues. Pretty disappointing for a big Bisley fan such as myself. His art really needs better paper and separations.


All in all, not a bad issue. The art remains a strange love/hate thing with me, though.

NEXT!

ISSUE 3
Spell or Die!


I thought this issue was the best of the bunch so far. It seems almost like the problems I noticed were also noticed at the time by the creators and steps were taken to correct them.

The humor was more on the mark this time out, with Vril Dox losing his mind as his carefully-orchestrated plan meets the chaos that is Lobo. The best part of the book was Lobo captured and forced to take part in a spelling bee. It reminded me of the off the hook humor of future Lobo stories to come.

The art also took a turn for the better. The inking and coloring are a lot less sloppy and heavy-handed, letting the fine lines of Bisley's art really show through for the first time.



All in all a great issue.

AND FINALLY. . .

ISSUE 4
The LAST Last Czarnian



This issue is pretty much all-out chaos as all the different groups after Lobo come together in one place. I didn't really like it as much as last issue. It just seemed to me to be trying too hard to be outrageous, and (like I said before) it just doesn't age well.

That said, I loved the ending, where Lobo reminded Vox in his own way that he sticks exactly to the letter of his contract, so most of the issue fell kind of flat, but they stuck the ending. The art also hit the mark, with little of the sloppy inks and colors of the first two issues, letting Bisley's lines show through nicely.



All in all, this was a decent issue with a great ending.

CONCLUSION

Overall, I enjoyed this mini. Unfortunately, I would have enjoyed it more if the inks and colors hadn't been sloppy in the first couple of issues. The heavy L.E.G.I.O.N. connection hurt the story a bit. . .it probably would have been better as a standalone (as most later Lobo minis would be). The humor and violence also seemed a bit forced in many places. Reading it 30 years later makes it pretty obvious they were REALLY trying to be outrageous, but now it just comes off as being mildly humorous.

All things considered,if you have no interest in Lobo then nothing here will help change your mind. The humor was hit and miss, it relies on 90's continuity instead of being a standalone story, and the art in the first two issues was questionable. But all that aside, this was a nice visit back to what they thought was outrageous in the 90's.

As I think back on it now, a question comes to mind. . .given the violent and profane nature of Lobo, why wasn't he part of Vertigo? It seems like he would have been a good fit in an uncensored environment.

In any case, this is a decent little piece of Longbox Junk. It's a little hit or miss, but if you feel like taking a nostalgic trip back to the 90's, there's a lot worse than this to be found.

Up Next. . .

You'll find out the same time I do. In other words. . .I don't know!

Recent purchases have flooded my collection with all manner of new Longbox Junk.
I Just bought close to a thousand MORE random comics from a closing comic shop.

NOW the question becomes: Do I have too much Longbox Junk?
Have I finally reached the point where my collection collapses under the weight of all the junk? Is it even POSSIBLE to read all the comics I now have?

HAVE I GONE LONGBOX JUNK INSANE?

I guess we'll find out.

Be there or be square.