Monday, March 11, 2019

Longbox Junk - Lobo (vol. 3) Part 2

Welcome back to Longbox Junk and my look at the second part of the Lobo series that it seems EVERYONE hated!

I'm serious.  I've searched the internet for information on this series and 99% of what I found was negative.  Most interesting to me is that, except for some reviews of the trades, ALL of the information I found was actually from before the first issue of this series even came out!  There is VERY little to be found beyond the advance hate and chatter about the first issue.

But I'm gonna be honest here and repeat what I said in the first part of this series review. . .I really don't think it's as bad as people were thinking it was going to be.  

It seems there was a LOT of fan backlash, but I wonder how many people actually read the comics themselves instead of basing their opinion on Kenneth Rocafort's advance preview character design. . .which I discovered most of the hate centered around. 

Let me restate: Most of the negative things about New 52 Lobo I found on the internet were NOT about the comic itself, but about ONE SINGLE PICTURE that came out in advance of the comic.  THIS one picture soured reader opinion before the first issue even hit the stands!

  I think it looks pretty good, myself. . .

In my opinion, this comic was dead before it even had a chance to prove itself.

That said. . .

On an actual reading of the first half of this series, I found it to be pretty good.  It's basically a sci-fi western tale of a tragic anti-hero.  A man of former privilege hiding himself in the dark and violent world of bounty hunting after blaming himself for the death of everything he ever loved.  There's some good stories that can be built around that solid core.

So how does the back half hold up? Let's find out!

DC  (2014 -2016)


SCRIPTS: Cullen Bunn
PENCILS: Cliff Richards
COVER: Leonardo Manco

While on a mission for Void Whisper to take out an informer, Lobo is attacked by mind-controlled assassins. Tracking the source of the devices used to control them, Lobo is captured by a deadly rival and enslaved by one of the devices himself. 

As Lobo continues to work for Void Whisper in trade for information, the story remains interesting and extremely readable.

This time out, we see him infiltrating a lavish party, only to almost immediately get captured and turned into a mind-controlled slave with a nice bit of squeamish body horror as he is infected by a spider-like parasite that squirms around just under the surface of his face.

There's a very nice mix of action and intrigue in this issue. It's almost laughable how badly Lobo fails at stealth. . .but in a good way.

Overall, this issue is one of the better ones of the run, with an ending that makes me want to jump right into the next one. . .


SCRIPTS: Cullen Bunn & Frank Barbiere
PENCILS: Szymon Kudranski
COVER: Leonardo Manco

With the unexpected help of Citadel operative Wyvern Cross, Lobo manages to escape being a mind-controlled slave and take down his target. Afterwards, he receives his next assignment. . .Sinestro.

A very nice ending to Lobo's current assignment, with some extremely creepy panels filled with spiders crawling over him and burrowing into his skin.

WARNING: If you don't like spiders, DO NOT read this issue! 

There are spiders every-friggin-where!

Excessive spiders aside, this is a really good issue. The writing is interesting enough to keep it from falling into a "Get assignment, finish assignment" two issue formula rut, and the art remains very strong.

Overall, a great ending to another good two-issue arc. Unfortunately, it looks like another crossover is on the way with Lobo's next assignment being Yellow Lantern Sinestro. Hopefully it works out better than the weak Superman issue.


SCRIPTS: Cullen Bunn
PENCILS: Robson Rocha
COVER: Leonardo Manco

Lobo tracks Sinestro to his hidden base, but discovers that the leader of the Yellow Lanterns put a kill contract out on himself in order to test Lobo.

I was happy to see that this crossover issue turned out a LOT better than the Superman issue. 

I'm not a fan of the Green Lantern series of books and stuff related to it like Sinestro, but found myself enjoying this issue quite a bit. I especially liked the twist that Sinestro took out a contract on himself in order to draw out and test Lobo for his own purposes.

There's a different artist at work here as well, and probably one of the best that I've seen yet on Lobo. His work is highly-detailed and every panel invites the eye to linger. He draws Lobo a bit more feral than previous artists, but the quality of his work doesn't make me mind a bit.

Overall, this annual is one of the best issues of the whole series in terms of both art and writing. A very pleasant surprise.


SCRIPTS: Cullen Bunn & Frank Barbiere
PENCILS: Robson Rocha
COVER: Leonardo Manco

With Lobo now working for Sinestro and collecting power rings across the galaxy, he is given his toughest assignment yet. . .take down the Red Lanterns. 

I guess it's official. Lobo has become a Green Lantern spinoff book. After establishing the new status quo in the Annual issue, this regular issue is all Lanterns.

Worse. . .although the art remains extremely strong, the sleek assassin Lobo has been replaced by a bulkier, more feral rendering with a wild mane of hair, a bare chest, and a fraggin' skull belt buckle.

Yeah. . .it seems that in an effort to backpedal from fan backlash, DC has taken a sudden swerve with this character, trying to hang him on the Green Lantern hook and get him back to the more "traditional" Lobo.

It's sudden, it's "too little, too late" (with only 3 more issues left) AND it's pretty disappointing that DC couldn't stick to their guns with the new "Sci-Fi Jonah Hex" character they created.


SCRIPTS: Cullen Bunn & Frank Barbiere
PENCILS: Robson Rocha
COVER: Leonardo Manco

Lobo battles his way through the stronghold of the Red Lanterns as he brutally fulfills his contract with Sinestro to take them down. . . 

This issue is pretty much all fighting as the new, more brutal and feral Lobo fights his way through the Red Lanterns.

The art is the only star of this one. It's simply amazing in places, but it's in service to a pretty mindless story.

Overall, if I wanted to read a Green Lantern book, I'd read a Green Lantern book.


SCRIPTS: Cullen Bunn & Frank Barbiere
PENCILS: Robson Rocha
COVER: Leonardo Manco

During an assignment gone wrong, Lobo breathes in some sort of poison that causes hallucinations, making him attack his employer and become a hunted man himself. . . 

And then all of a sudden. . .the whole Red Lantern/Sinestro thing is gone and we get a story about Lobo taking on a small time assignment killing some drug runners and going a bit insane after accidentally breathing in some of the burning drugs.

Overall, I was glad to see things shift away from this being a Green Lantern crossover book. 

Oh. . .wait. There's Hal Jordan making a last page cameo. Lovely.

What we REALLY have here is a contrived piece of filler trying a bit too hard to explain why Lobo isn't a sleek, cold assassin any more and why he's suddenly a shaggy, bulky, brutal brawler now.

At least the art is good. In places, it's even great. A damn shame that it serves a story gone REALLY bad.

And finally. . .


SCRIPTS: Cullen Bunn & Frank Barbiere
PENCILS: Robson Rocha & Ethan Van Sciver
COVER: Leonardo Manco

Lobo goes on a drug-fueled rampage that can only be stopped by renegade Green Lantern Hal Jordan. 

And finally we come to the end of things for New 52 Lobo's regular series. Unfortunately, it's not a very good ending. It's not really an ending at all, to tell the truth.

After a brutal battle with Hal Jordan that ends with Jordan dropping Lobo from orbit and almost burning him to death on re-entry, Lobo is saved by Wyvern Cross and told he'll be given refuge at the Citadel. . .but Lobo kills him instead and the comic (and series) just. . .ends.

First off, this comic references events in Green Lantern Annual AND Omega Men. . .so crossover hell right there for those wanting the whole story. THEN it doesn't even end Lobo in Lobo's own comic! There's a blurb at the end telling me to check out Batman/Superman #29! I did, and it has NOTHING to do with the end of this issue.

What I'm trying to say is that, as the end of a series, Lobo failed pretty badly. You have to read THREE other comics to get the story and even if you do, there's not a real ending in there.

A sad ending to what started out as a pretty good series. A damn shame is what it really is.


A look at the following pictures will tell you a lot about what went wrong with the back half of Lobo:

Lobo from the beginning of the series. . .

And Lobo from the end of the series. . .

In the short space of 14 issues, Lobo went from an entirely new character. . .a slick killer for hire with a tragic past reminiscent of a Sci-Fi Jonah Hex in many ways. . .to a feral brawler with a bare chest, shaggy hair and fraggin' skull belt buckle.  Not only that, but after issue 9, Lobo pretty much turned into a Green Lantern crossover book.

The art remained consistently good from the first issue to the last (except for the God-Awful rendering of Superman early on), but the story started to swing in the wind after 9 issues to the point that without reading other comics, Lobo became almost unreadable.

Overall, I'd say that this series is a perfect example of a company not standing behind their decisions.

DC made a mistake in calling this character Lobo in the first place, but THEN they utterly failed in trying to keep the character IN character and let it become its own thing.  Instead, they buckled under pressure and failed at the backpedal as well.

It's a damn shame, because this character was pretty interesting.  

Like I said. . .a bit derivative of Jonah Hex, but the series COULD have been a fun Sci-Fi Western comic if only DC hadn't tried to hang the character on the Lobo hook.

All I can say is just what I said before: Read this without thinking "This ain't Lobo!" and you get a pretty good Sci-Fi Western. . .at first.  Unless you're a Green Lantern fan, just stop at the Annual.  Everything after that is crossover hell and the "Ending" is probably one of the weakest I've seen for an ongoing series.

Up Next. . .

What happens when there's a Terminator in town and nobody from the future around to 'splain just what the HELL is going on? Find out in Dark Horse's "Terminator: Enemy of My Enemy" 6 issue mini.

Be there or be square!

1 comment:

  1. I wasn't reading comics during the New 52 run, but now that I'm once more involved in the hobby, I've been getting New 52 issues from quarter boxes when I can find them. I have yet to even see any Lobo issues, so I haven't experienced these firsthand. And I wonder if I haven't found Lobo issues because comic shop owners didn't order many to begin with...or perhaps only hardcore Lobo fans bought them and won't part with them, regardless of the story,'s Lobo...sort of.

    I haven't read many comics with Lobo as it is, but I really enjoyed him in small doses when he'd appear in titles I regularly bought during my 1993 to 2003 phase of comic reading. You provide a great service in telling readers what to expect from these comics, and it's greatly appreciated. Obviously I wouldn't want to pay good money for a story that switches the way DC did here, but if I were to run across a few in quarter boxes, it might be interesting to buy them for that price just to get the experience for myself.

    I'm looking forward to your take on The Terminator series that's up next, so "I'll be back."