Keith Giffen’s Lobo: 100 Page Spectacular

loboLobo is another of those DC characters with a somewhat checkered past. Introduced in 1983 as a hardened villain (with, in that incarnation, a short shelf life), he was resurrected in the early ’90s as one of a growing number of “super anti-heroes.” Intended as a parody of Wolverine, this version was itself parodied. Lobo, “the last Czarnian,” is the embodiment of id — there seem to be no restraints on his behavior, particularly when it comes to violence (he credits himself with having wiped out the rest of his species as his “high school science project”), although he does live up to the letter of his agreements — but only the letter. Lobo: 100 Page Spectacular includes the last two numbers of his eponymous series (Lobo #63-64) and DC First: Superman/Lobo 1.

In “First Date,” Lobo is contracted by a somewhat shady intergalactic organization to eliminate a prior claimant to Earth, which the Hegemony wants to add to its own portfolio. The prior claimant happens to be Superman. Lobo makes the offer authorized by the Hegemony, with predictable results. There is an explanation given for the fact that the Hegemony does not reappear in any subsequent adventures, involving Lobo and a call of nature. (Note that the Hegemony made the mistake of allowing robots programmed to kill intruders to go after Lobo and Superman.) I think you can see what kind of protagonist we’re dealing with here.

In “Soul Brothers,” Lobo and the demon Ertigan are hired by the angel Malazel to retrieve a soul from Hell, where it has been mistakenly held. This one not only pits Lobo against the devil’s minions, but shows the effect one saintly soul can have on evil — and vice-versa. This one suffers a bit from the fact that Ertigan and sometimes Lobo speak in verse, which takes it a little over the top.

“What Can Scare the Main Man?” is a coda, pitting Lobo against Phobia, who claims she can scare anyone. What does it take to scare Lobo? Once you think about it, it’s not hard to figure out, although as Phobia points out, “A lady never tells.”

OK — Lobo is really, really tacky in a very fun way. Lobo himself is a super-muscled sort (a given for superhero comics), with dead white skin, red eyes, and a mop of unruly black hair. His manner of speaking itself is a parody, although one is hard put to pin down what exactly of. With his quasi-biker dress and souped-up bike-cum-space scooter, he has quite a presence. Due to his superhuman healing ability, he is virtually unkillable, which makes his run-in with Superman interesting. And this one is really funny. Sadly, “Soul Brothers” is nowhere near as engaging, relying a little to heavily on stereotypes (even for a comic) and predictable events; there’s also here an unfortunate attempt at slapstick comedy, which undercuts the intrinsic humor of the character. The coda is just that.

Lobo is a character I might want to follow up on, but I think choosing the stories will require some care. And he’s not the kind of hero, anti or otherwise, that you can take in large doses.

(DC Comics, 2011)

About Robert Tilendis

Robert M. Tilendis lives a deceptively quiet life. He has made money as a dishwasher, errand boy, legal librarian, arts administrator, shipping expert, free-lance writer and editor, and probably a few other things he’s tried very hard to forget about. He has also been a student of history, art, theater, psychology, ceramics, and dance. Through it all, he has been an artist and poet, just to provide a little stability in his life. Along about January of every year, he wonders why he still lives someplace as mundane as Chicago; it must be that he likes it there.

You may e-mail him, but include a reference to Green Man Review so you don’t get deleted with the spam.