Monday, March 18, 2019

Longbox Junk - The Terminator: Enemy Of My Enemy

Terminators.

Relentless killing machines created by the all-powerful computer, Skynet.  Their only purpose to infiltrate and destroy the last remaining vestiges of human resistance in one of the bleakest futures ever to be put on the silver screen.

I love The Terminator franchise.  Within the framework of a dark future ruled by machines, there's potential to tell both hopeful AND hopeless tales of resistance and desperate battle against monsters created by mankind's own hubris.

Except for an interesting run by NOW comics, Dark Horse has been the caretaker of the Terminator comic franchise.  But like their other movie-based properties (Predator, Aliens, and Star Wars for a while), Dark Horse's Terminator offerings swing wildly in terms of quality.  Some of them are fantastic and thought-provoking.  Others are just plain bad.

What we have here is a Mini that came out fairly recently (2014) and, according to interviews I've seen with the creators, trying to set itself apart from earlier offerings with asking the question of, "What happens when a Terminator arrives and there's nobody from the future to tell anyone what's going on?"  An interesting idea.  

So. . .Is Enemy Of My Enemy one of Dark Horse's good Terminator stories?

Let's find out!


THE TERMINATOR:
ENEMY OF MY ENEMY

DARK HORSE (2014)
SCRIPTS: Dan Jolley
PENCILS: Jamal Igle
COVERS: Jamal Igle

ISSUE ONE



Farrow Greene, Ex CIA assassin - turned bounty hunter on the run takes on an assignment to track down and capture scientist Elise Wong. Unfortunately for Greene, her target is also being pursued by a deadly killing machine from the future. . .a Terminator. 

This first issue is mostly setup. It introduces the 3 main characters (Bounty hunter, Scientist and Terminator) and brings them together, then ends with a decent cliffhanger that makes me want to get right into the next issue.

Although it's decently-written, and asks the interesting question of what happens when a Terminator comes around and there's nobody else from the future to 'splain just what the hell's going on, the main character seems like a bit too much of a "Mary Sue".  


In other words, she's an unrelatable superwoman with any plot-convenient powers she needs to have. . .definitely NOT the average person in a terrifying situation against an unknown enemy advertised in creator interviews.  Just her basic description alone is enough to make the eyes roll:  Ex-CIA special operative turned bounty hunter?  Really?  This is a normal person?

Look. . .I'm not going to sit here and whine about "forced diversity" in comics and such, because I'm not that guy. But I WILL say that there IS a distinct whiff of overcompensation here in the female (check) gay (check) black (check) main character with any abilities needed to make it through any situation and leave it at that for now.  Just be fairly warned that if you ARE that guy who boils over at all things SJW. . .this comic ain't gonna do your blood pressure a bit of good. 

Other than the laughably overqualified main character, this was a pretty good introductory issue. The art was really neither here nor there. . .it tells the story, but doesn't really stand out in any way. It runs right down the middle of the road.

ISSUE TWO


After tracking down and recapturing Dr. Fong, Greene learns that she is working on a method to produce artificial skin in the laboratory. Unfortunately, both the Terminator and a shadowy government agency are after Dr. Fong as well. . . 

I actually liked this issue better than the first one. The story is beginning to open up a bit more as we learn what sort of research Dr. Fong is involved in. It makes sense to the reader why Skynet wants her dead (she is building a failsafe virus into her artificial skin that can destroy it if it turns cancerous) but it makes no sense to the characters in the story because they still don't realize the brutal guy chasing them is a killing machine from the future.

The addition of the government agency that knows a LITTLE about Terminators from the first "incident" (The original movie) is also interesting.

The art also improves in this issue, with some really great action scenes as Mary Sue. . .er. . .Greene. . .shows off her martial arts mastery against the Terminator. There's also a great set of silent panels showing the utter terror of a news helicopter pilot as the Terminator forces her to fly a search pattern over the city in search of Greene's car.


Some good visual storytelling right there. . .

Overall, even though I found this issue to be very enjoyable, I still find the main character to be a diversity checkbox superwoman with a skillset that Batman would be jealous of.


ISSUE THREE
Now THAT'S a sweet cover!

After Dr. Fong is captured by a secret government agency wanting to use her as bait in order to lure and capture the Terminator, Greene makes a deal with the Terminator to team up and rescue the scientist. 

Things start to break down in this third issue. It's not off the rails quite yet, but there's a few "WTF?" moments to be found that don't bode well at the halfway point of this story.

It starts off with a confusing sequence of Greene talking to herself in the apartment of a woman she's drugged while cutting her hair and changing clothes. It reeks of the writer trying to force some sympathetic exposition into the story, but it really comes off as "Of COURSE the superwoman has a tragic backstory. Of course she does."

THEN there's how the Terminator decides to chase Mary Sue. . .er. . .former agent Greene. . .instead of tracking down his actual target Dr. Fong. It's out of character for a relentless Terminator to get sidetracked like that when it's already been shown that it has the resourcefulness to discover where Fong was taken without Greene's help.

And finally, there's the "Deal" that Greene and the Terminator make to work together. It seems that it's the big twist in this story to try and set it apart. . .Terminator and Human working together. . .but it makes no sense, really. Whatever information Greene has could easily be gained by other methods by The Terminator.

Like I said above, It's not QUITE off the rails yet. . .but this series is heading into a curve at an inadvisable speed.


ISSUE FOUR


After a shadowy government agency captures Dr. Fong, The Terminator and Ex-Agent Greene come to an agreement to work together since neither of them alone can get to Fong. Agreeing that Fong's fate will be decided after retrieving her from captivity, Greene and The Terminator attack the compound where the scientist is being held. 

Most of this issue deals with Greene and the Terminator attacking a secret government compound where Dr. Fong is being held as bait to draw the Terminator out. . .so it's pretty much all battle action from beginning to end.

That said, there's a nice scene at the beginning where Terminator and Greene are assessing each other's combat capabilities that has a bit of deadpan Terminator-style humor that I liked.

It was also interesting to see that the government had been working on their own version of Terminators. . .crude and remote-controlled versions. 

Unfortunately, Greene continues to Mary Sue the hell out of things by adding sniper skills and the ability to survive an RPG blast to her already-expansive repertoire of superhuman abilities.

Then there's the government proto-Terminators. Yeah, it was interesting to see that they were there. . .but their ability to take down a Skynet killing machine from the future was pretty ridiculous.

Overall, this issue was better than issue 3. . .as long as you don't stop to think about motivations, plot holes, and the doubtful outcome of 1985 proto-Terminators defeating Skynet's best. . .and just enjoy page after page of a bada$$ Terminator tearing $hit up.

So for awesome Terminator battle action, it's great. Storywise. . .it's turning into a mess.


ISSUE FIVE


Former CIA Agent Greene and The Terminator are captured by the government, but manage to gain their freedom. Greene breaks her agreement with the Terminator and escapes with Dr. Fong, but the Skynet killing machine is in close pursuit. . . 

In the lead up to the final issue, things remain action-heavy as Greene and The Terminator escape the government compound with Dr. Fong after fighting their way past a room full of proto-Terminators.

While she's knocked out, Greene has a flashback of the assignment that put her on the government's $hit list. . .she accidentally caused the death of another agent and outed a Soviet double agent at the same time. . .that was pretty interesting. But that's about all the story beats to be found in this issue.

For some reason, the art takes a turn for the worse in this issue, with some truly horrendous panels, especially Greene's face. The flashback scene is nicely done, but for some reason it looks almost like two artists were working on this issue. . .


What happens when an artist stops caring. . .

Besides the bad art, the continuing problem of the main character being an unrelatable superwoman doesn't fail to make an appearance in this issue, with Greene adding escape artist and pilot to her ability list and a laughable scene of her catching a hand grenade in mid-air and chucking it back where it came from.

Overall, this series has been on a downward slide since the third issue, and this issue is one of the worst. The art is bad to the point of distraction in places and Greene's superhuman abilities are getting more and more ridiculous.


AND FINALLY. . .

ISSUE SIX


After escaping with Dr. Fong, Greene returns to battle with the Terminator one last time. . . 

Oh, hell no.

This series has been flirting with disaster since the 3rd issue, but this final issue finally sends it flying off the rails and over the cliff.

The main character being an unrelatable superhuman Mary Sue throughout this series comes to a laughable climax as she survives a midair head on collision with a jet. . .


What? THAT? Pff. . .walk it off.

. . .And then adds skydiving and hot wiring cars to her plot-convenient ability list before topping it all off by quoting Robert Frost and firing multiple shots from a bolt action rifle. . .



BUT. . .

Former CIA Agent turned Bounty Hunter Greene Mary Suing her way through the finale is NOTHING compared to the final fate of Dr. MacGuffin Fong as she rams the Terminator with a car, only for it to reach through the windshield and gently tap her heart, rupturing her pericardium and giving her a heart attack. . .complete with gasping monologue about how her kidnapper (Mary Sue Greene) is really a good person inside.

TERMINATORS DON'T "TAP" YOUR CHEST TO KILL YOU WITH A HEART ATTACK! THEY TEAR YOUR GODDAMN CHEST OPEN WITH THEIR COLD AND UNCARING ROBOTIC HANDS AND RIP YOUR HEART OUT! TERMINATORS DESTROY. . .THEY DON'T "TAP".

Screw this ending. Just. . .Screw it sideways.


CONCLUSION

I love the Terminator franchise.  Unfortunately, there's not much to love in this mini. 

It's not all bad.  The art is pretty good until later on in issues 5 and 6 when you can plainly see the artist stop giving a damn.  The concept is interesting.  There are some awesome scenes of the Terminator in full out battle with government troops.

BUT. . .

There's also a diversity checkbox unrelatable superwoman main character with a plot-convenient skillset that expands with every issue.  There are obvious plot holes around both the main character and the Terminator's motivations and actions.  The ending is EXTREMELY weak.

Overall, if you're just looking for some great battle action with a Terminator and a bada$$ human teaming up, then this mini is good for that.  If you're looking for a great Terminator story. . .not so good.  This is a good example of Longbox Junk at its best AND worst.

Up Next. . .

He's stranded on an unforgiving, alien world without weapons or armor. Captured and enslaved.

All is as Doom wishes it to be!

It's the mini that answers the question you never knew you wanted to ask. . .
"What would a Doctor Doom/ Road Warrior crossover be like?"

Marvel's 3 issue "Doom" mini. 

Be there or be square!


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!




LOBO (VOL 3)
DC  (2014 -2016)

ISSUE 8
SURROUNDED


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. . .


ISSUE 9
SKIN DEEP


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.


ANNUAL 1
BEWARE HIS MIGHT


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.


ISSUE 10
REDS


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.


ISSUE 11
PAID IN BLOOD


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.


ISSUE 12
OVERDOSE


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. . .

ISSUE 13
END OF THE LINE


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.


CONCLUSION

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!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Longbox Junk - Lobo (vol. 3) Part 1

DC's Lobo is one of those characters I really like. . .but only in small doses.

Some of my favorite mini's and one shots of my entire collection are Lobo.  With a great creative team and done right, Lobo is one of the most hilarious characters out there.  He's been the headliner for a couple of ongoing series, but for me they seem really watered down, compared to the shorter mini's and one shots.  I guess it's hard to keep the right level of comedy and brutality going long term.  

He was originally created as a parody character, poking well-deserved fun at the grim-n-gritty direction comics were going in the 90's, but his satiric origins didn't stop him from becoming a huge hit for DC for quite a long time.

THAT SAID. . .

The series at hand is NOT Lobo as you might know him. 

 It's a highly-controversial total reboot of the character done during DC's New 52 days that seems to be pretty much hated by. . .well. . .EVERYONE.

Almost every existing review I could find on this series is negative in some way.  It seems that the Lobo revamp pretty much exploded many a head of comic fans with rage.

Which brings us to the Longbox Junk at hand . . .

I found this whole series on the cheap (13 issues plus the annual for 10 lousy dollars!) and decided to see for myself if it was REALLY as bad as people make it seem. . .or if it was a bandwagon hate situation where people wanted the Lobo they knew and would just automatically hate anything else.

So. . .Lobo.  One of the most hated characters of the New 52.  Is it really that bad?

Let's find out!
LOBO
(Vol. 3 )
DC 2014 - 2016

ISSUE 1
TARGETS



SCRIPTS: Cullen Bunn
PENCILS: Reilly Brown
COVER: Aaron Kuder

Former Royal Bodyguard turned Bounty Hunter Lobo takes on a seemingly-impossible contract to find and take down 8 assassins in 8 days before they take out their target. . .the planet Earth. 

Not a bad first issue at all. It nicely sets up a fairly simple storyline. . .8 targets, 8 days. . .and gives a bit of background via flashback to Lobo's previous life as a cultured Imperial Bodyguard. We also get to see where Lobo is now as he takes down his first target. . .a ruthless and cold bounty hunter that doesn't much resemble the caring man he was before.

The art is slick, sharp, and somewhat cartoony (in a good way) for the main parts of the story, sketchy and more pastel colored for the flashbacks. All of it is very nicely done, with the sharper main art being perfect for the hard sci-fi bounty hunting action.





Overall, I was impressed with this first issue. I've heard a lot of bad about this series, but I can't really say anything bad about this issue. 

If I HAD to find something disappointing, it would be wanting to know more about how Lobo got from the Imperial Palace to becoming a sort of science fiction Jonah Hex. . .but hopefully that will be in issues to come. As far as THIS issue goes, it's a winner!


ISSUE 2
PARTNERS


SCRIPTS: Cullen Bunn
PENCILS: Alisson Borges, Reilly Brown & Nelson DeCastro
COVER: Aaron Kuder

Lobo is forced by his employer to team up with 3 other "specialists". The unwelcome alliance is put to the test as Lobo takes down a murderous cyborg that unleashes a biological weapon on Shanghai. . . 

A second strong issue as Lobo takes on some supporting characters. . .Luna, a sharpshooter. Emily, a 14 year old hacker. And Rave, a mysterious guy who hasn't revealed his "specialty" yet.

I like the mix of characters and am definitely getting a "Sci-Fi Jonah Hex" feel from this issue even more than the previous one as Lobo reluctantly teams up and lets his team know he hates them all, even though they prove useful during the mission.

The art also remains strong, with the main story parts benefitting from a clean, sharp style and the flashback rendered in a more finely-lined and less heavily inked way that really stands out.





All in all, this issue continues to be a pretty strong hard sci-fi story by way of Jonah Hex western. The only thing I didn't really like about it was that the biological weapon Hex. . .er. . .Lobo. . .didn't stop caused a small zombie apocalypse, so we got some zombies for no reason other than. . .zombies.  Also, there's no real explanation as to WHY Lobo's employer decided to team him up, other than wanting to have some supporting characters.  


Other than those two small things, this issue is another winner!

ISSUE 3
GHOSTS


SCRIPTS: Cullen Bunn
PENCILS: Reilly Brown
COVER: Aaron Kuder

Lobo continues to bond with his new "team" as they work together to take down a target who can shift in and out of reality. Afterwards, they track their next target to Metropolis. . .home of Superman. 

Although this issue is still pretty strong, the story is starting to slip away from "Sci-Fi Jonah Hex" and toward more superhero comic book fare. 

What I first thought was a pretty simple setup (8 targets. . .8 days) is beginning to show its weakness as a bit of "Villain of The Month" creeps in. 

That's not to say the issue is bad, it's just that this particular target is a bit weak and cliche. Fortunately, the flashback storyline showing Lobo as an Imperial Bodyguard on his homeworld beginning to realize something is very wrong with the Emperor he is sworn to protect remains very interesting. 

I have to say that the flashbacks are probably more interesting than the main story, and would like to see more of it than the usual 2 pages worth per issue.

Overall, despite the weakening main storyline, this issue was still good. I'm still really liking the "Sci Fi Jonah Hex" style of it and the flashback scenes are a great addition.


ISSUE 4
. . .AND THEN SUPERMAN


SCRIPTS: Cullen Bunn
PENCILS: Allison Borges & Reilly Brown
COVER: Ben Oliver

Lobo and his team track their next target to Metropolis. Unfortunately, Superman has no intention of letting a ruthless bounty hunter work in his town. . . 

DC didn't wait long before trying to throw in a crossover issue. Too bad this one doesn't really work out.

The whole issue feels unnecessary. . .a crossover for a crossover's sake. It definitely feels forced. Thankfully, the flashback scenes showing Lobo's homeworld falling apart around him save the issue.

Overall, this issue feels out of place. It doesn't help that this is probably one of the worst renderings of Superman I've seen. The art is fine when it comes to Lobo and the other original characters, but Superman is just bad. If you're gonna try to lure readers by crossing over a more popular character, at least put some effort into it.


Looks Super-Stoned in the top right panel.


Moving along. . .


ISSUE 5
MYTH AND LEGENDS


SCRIPT: Cullen Bunn
PENCILS: Alisson Borges, Reilly Brown & Cliff Richards
COVER: Ben Oliver

Lobo's next target turns out to be his biggest challenge yet. . .a Xrexian who, like Lobo, is the last of her kind and descended from his people, just as deadly and skilled as he is and claiming to know the secret behind the destruction of Lobo's homeworld. 

After last issue's extremely underwhelming Superman crossover, this issue returns to form with a pretty strong entry concerning the last survivor of a related race inhabiting a planet nearby Czarnia (Lobo's Homeworld) that was caught in the cataclysm when Czarnia was destroyed.

He sees her as nothing but a target to be taken down, she sees Lobo as a chance to resurrect their race, and teases him with the possibility of learning what was actually behind the destruction of his planet. . .which he blames himself for.

Overall, I liked the meaty chunk of story this issue contained. . .especially when compared to the weak Superman cash in crossover issue just before it.   One of the best covers of the series so far as well.


ISSUE 6
FIRST KILL, FINAL KILL


SCRIPTS: Cullen Bunn
PENCILS: Cliff Richards
COVER: Ben Oliver

In the bloody finish to the first Lobo story arc, Lobo's team is decimated during a final confrontation with The Pariah. 

And so we come to the end of the initial "8 days, 8 kills" storyline. Lobo's team (except Emily, the teenage hacker) are brutally killed by The Pariah, but he manages to defeat her and bring the contract to a close.  Too bad I found it hard to care about the demise of his team.  They had been barely fleshed out at all.  Luna was a sexy sharpshooter in a cowboy hat who I assume was there to fill a missing boob quota, and Rave was just a guy who double-fisted revolvers and looked cool in a trenchcoat.  RIP. . .I guess.

Most of the issue was the bloody battle between Lobo and Pariah, but a good chunk of it was flashbacks to the ultimate destruction of Lobo's homeworld after Lobo killed the Emperor, who had gone insane and whose life force was tied up with that of the planet itself. In trying to save the planet, Lobo was ultimately responsible for destroying it.

But during the battle with Pariah, she revealed that she had been hired to poison the Emperor and drive him insane. . .but she dies before she can reveal who hired her. . .thus setting up the next stage of the story as Lobo sets out to find out who it was.

Overall, I really liked this issue and thought it was a great conclusion to the first story arc. 

There was an artist change in this issue as well. The usual sharp, somewhat cartoony art was replaced by one of the artists who had been doing the flashbacks. His thinner-lined, more angular art style was very well suited for the dark nature of this issue and was an unexpectedly welcome change.


And Finally. . .

ISSUE 7
WHIP


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

Lobo strikes a deal with Kadra, the leader of the Void Whisper assassin's guild. He'll work as her head Enforcer in exchange for information leading to who hired her assassins to destroy Earth and Czarnia. 

The first issue of the next Lobo story arc is a strong entry that digs into the dirty underbelly of crime and contract killing. 

I liked the return to the "Sci-Fi Jonah Hex" style that had been left a bit to the wayside as the last arc finished up.   Unfortunately, it looks like along with this new direction the flashbacks to Lobo's previous life are gone. . .but on the good side, the artist of those flashbacks is illustrating the main story now and it lends a whole new, grittier look and feel to the story.





Overall, a strong start to the new arc, with a grittier feel to both story and art.


CONCLUSION

Coming into this series cold, with very little knowledge of the character other than he existed and it seems everyone hates him (I never saw an issue of this on the stands of my local comic shop when the New 52 was rolling and didn't read any of the series it crossed over with), I found myself pleasantly surprised to find myself liking it.

Is it perfect? No.  Is it great? No.  It's not close to being perfect OR great.  But to me, it IS good and doesn't deserve the hate that it got.  What it actually reminded me of a lot was Jonah Hex. . .but with a hard Sci-Fi twist that Jonah Hex's future adventures in HEX never quite pulled off.

Let's address the elephant in the room here.  

No. . .it's NOT Lobo by any means.  It's played pretty straight, with hardly any humor.  It's a violent sci-fi western story with a tragic anti-hero.  I think that DC made a mistake in trying to hang this series and this character on the Lobo hook.  As its own thing, it MIGHT have lasted longer than 13 issues and not gotten the practically universal comic fan hate I see when I read anything about this series.

Overall, I say put aside comparisons to the original Lobo and knee-jerk reaction to unwanted character reboots and give this series a chance on its own as a decent sci-fi western story and some pretty good Longbox Junk.

Up Next. . .

The back half of New 52 Lobo. . .where it all goes TERRIBLY wrong as DC tries to figure out how to backpedal away from the discontent over the questionable decision to reboot Lobo as an entirely new character.

Be there or be square!