Lobo. A walking parody of all that was the 1990s. I remember when Roger Slifer and Keith Giffen first unleashed Lobo on the world in Omega Men #3 in 1983. That character of Lobo was later retconned and repackaged in a new mini-series that came out in 1990 by Giffen and Alan Grant. Lobo became a parody of all the over-the-top violence, darkness, and grittiness that permeated mainstream comic books through the 1990s. I will admit that I sampled and enjoyed Lobo’s monthly solo title off and on during the time that it was published between 1993-1999. Lobo’s success came largely from the fact that nobody took Lobo that seriously and he was allowed to be the joke character that he was always intended to be.
Now, Lobo was drastically repackaged during the New 52 reboot as we got a somewhat creepy androgynous version of the character. It also appeared that Lobo was no longer going to be the walking parody of the 1990s-style comic. I understand that since that would mean Lobo would be parodying the entire New 52 reboot which was done in the 1990s style of storytelling. And Lobo presented as a regular character rather than a parody? I am not too sure that works.
At any rate, I figured it was time to take a look at Lobo’s current title and see if the main man is capable of carrying his own title in the DCYOU era of DC comics. Let’s take a look at Lobo #10 and find out!
Words: Cullen Bunn & Frank Barbieri
Pencils: Robson Rocha
Inks: Matt Banning, Daniel Henriques & Cam Smith
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin on Planet Nok, the home of the Indigo Lanterns. The narration explains that the people of Nok were freed from slavery by Abin Sur. Amin Sur was introduced to the Indigo Light. That the Indigo Lanterns ruled Nok. The Indigo Lanterns are composed of people who used to be criminals and villains and murderers brought here by Abin Sur. The Indigo Light robs them of their emotions and fills them full of compassion. It transforms them into Indigo Lanterns. We learn that of all the different Lantern Corps, Sinestro hates the Indigo Lanterns the most.
We see Indigo-1, the Indigo Lanterns’ leader, meditating. Suddenly, another Indigo Lantern, who is missing his hand where his power ring was, appears on the scene. The Indigo Lantern is in a rage and attacks Indigo-1. Indigo-1 tries to reason with the enraged Indigo Lantern but fails. The Indigo Lantern continues to attack Indigo-1. Lobo appears on the scene and splits the Indigo Lantern in half with his laser blade weapons. (Hello! That is a lot of blood and gore! Well, I guess this is a comic I can safely say you do not give to your kids to read.)
Lobo says that the Indigo Lantern turns killers into slaves. Lobo says that Lanterns rely too much on their rings and become slaves to their rings. Lobo wipes off his bloody blade. Indigo-1 says “Nok.” (Yeah, this is the annoying part of Indigo Lanterns. “Not” is all they say. Makes for scintillating dialogue.) Lobo says that he knows what “Nok” means and that he is the exact opposite of that meaning.
Lobo empties a bag full of severed hands wearing Indigo power rings. (That’s lovely.) Lobo then says “You’re next.” (The dialogue up to this point has been nothing short of spectacular…for a 1980s action movie.) Lobo attacks. Indigo-1 commands all of the power rings on the ground to attack Lobo. One of the power rings slides onto Lobo’s finger. Lobo realizes that Indigo-1 is trying to rob him of his emotions and make him a slave to the Indigo Light. Rather than succumb to the Indigo Light, Lobo gnaws his ring finger off his hand. (Don’t worry! A Lobo can regenerate any lost body parts! Just a minor flesh wound. Nothing more.)
Lobo proceeds to beat Indigo-1’s ass like a rented mule. Just before Lobo can land a killing blow, Indigo-1 teleports away from the scene. Lobo has blood pouring down his chin. He smiles and says that this job has turned out to be more fun and interesting than he thought it would be. (BLOOOOOOOOOD!!!!!)
We cut to Lobo’s meeting with Sinestro. Lobo presents Sinestro with all of the Indigo power rings that he has collected. Lobo admits that Indigo-1 did escape but that he will track her down and kill her, too. A hologram of Kadra, Lobo’s business partner, is also present. Kadra says that Lobo is doing what Sinestro could not and that they should be properly compensated for Lobo’s work. Sinestro replies that he could crush the Indigo Lanterns if he wanted to. It is just that he has other big important tasks on his plate already.
Sinestro says that Lobo is a good soldier and that the Regime could use a person like Lobo. Lobo replies that he does not need Sinestro’s praise. Lobo tells Sinestro to just tell him who’s next. (Lobo is now channeling his inner Goldberg! WHO’S NEXT?!) Sinestro says that he is uploading the data of Lobo’s next targets. Sinestro calls Lobo “My Lobo” and tells Lobo to remember who he works for. That soon Sinestro will rule everything. Sinestro says that Lobo seems to be one of those guys who likes to be on the winning side.
Sinestro exits. Lobo asks Kadra if she thinks that went well. Kadra says that you never know with Sinestro and that they will have to be careful with him.
We shift to two Red Lanterns, Bleez, and Rankorr, flying through space with Lobo hot on their tails. Rankorr loses it and turns and attacks Lobo’s ship. Lobo hops out of his ship and quickly attacks Rankorr. Rankorr says that he and Lobo are quite similar. Rankorr says that there is great rage in Lobo’s heart and that he would make an excellent Red Lantern. Lobo replies that he and Rankorr are nothing alike and that Lobo does not need a ring to tell him about what rage is in his heart.
Lobo says that Rankorr’s rage blinds him and leaves him open to an attack. Lobo presses a button on his collar and his ship then flies up behind Rankorr and impales him with the spike nose of the ship. (More blood! We have some goo. Some entrails. It is like a bunch of spaghetti marinara flying around in space!) Lobo says that the problem with Lanterns is that their rings aren’t just their power. They are their weakness, too. And he knows how to expose that weakness.
We see Bleez in hiding and watching the fight from far away. Bleez says that she will avenge Rankorr. Bleez flies to the Red Lantern’s home base. Atrocitus asks what happened. Bleez reports that Lobo killed Rankorr. Atrocious says that the Red Lanterns do not yield. That they have waited in the shadows while the Rage Mother perfected their new power rings. However, now the Red Lantern Corps shall have revenge. That they will take Lobo’s head. End of issue.
The Good: Lobo #10 was a decidedly average read. Having said that, there were certainly some positive aspects to this issue. To be sure, Lobo #10 delivered a ton of action. This issue kicks off with a massive bloody brawl and ends with a bloody fight. Readers who dig plenty of fighting will be pleased with the fact that 75% of this issue is spent on fight scenes. Lobo #10 is all about the fight. I may have criticisms of this issue, but I cannot deny that Lobo #10 is anything but dull and boring. The fighting is nasty and the fight scenes succeed in getting Lobo over with the reader as a serious badass who will claw, scratch, and bite his way through a fight. The reader is left with no doubt that Lobo will do absolutely anything, dirty or sneaky, in order to win a fight.
Readers who like blood and gore? Yeah, they will be happy, too. Now, don’t get me wrong. Lobo #10 is nowhere near the level of gore that you are going to see in plenty of indie press comic books. But, compared to other DC and Marvel mainstream superhero titles? Yeah, Lobo has more than the usual amount of blood and gore.
Bunn and Barbieri did an excellent job making Lobo #10 new reader friendly. I had not read a single issue of Lobo prior to this issue. And at no point did I ever feel lost or confused. I was impressed by how the writers were able to give enough backstory in this issue to get me up to speed without ever breaking the flow of the story or boring readers who have been reading since the first issue. A good example of an effective backstory is how Bunn and Barbieri deliver a concise and effective explanation of the Indigo Lanterns in just one page. And delivered it during a fight scene. Well done.
The pacing of Lobo #10 was perfect. This issue had a pleasant flow. The fight scenes were the highlight of this issue’s pacing. They were well choreographed and employed excellent psychology. This issue is a great example of how psychology in a fight scene can get over certain aspects of the characters involved. The fight between Lobo and Indigo-1 demonstrated how Lobo would do anything including gnawing off his own finger in order to win a fight. This fight also highlighted Lobo’s fiercely independent nature. Lobo is the ultimate loner and he rankles under the idea of someone controlling him.
The fight scene between Rankorr and Lobo employed more well-played psychology. I loved how Lobo uses the strength of the Red Lanterns against Rankorr. Red Lanterns’ strength comes from their rage. That is what powers their rings. But, Lobo shows how despite his rage, a person must be cunning and level-headed during a fight. And Rankorr’s rage left him wide open to a crafty sneak attack by Lobo. Both of these fight scenes show how fighting is not necessarily a brainless exercise or a page waster. Plenty of good character work and storytelling can be done within the context of a fight scene.
Rocha’s artwork is solid. Rocha is not helped at all by the fact that we get inking by committee with three different inkers. Rocha does a good job laying out the fight scenes that dominate this issue. I was also glad to see Lobo drawn more like his classic version rather than the androgynous N52 version we had gotten before. I do find it interesting that DC lets Lobo dress like a stripper at the same time that they are going out of their way to employ Victorian-Era sensibilities in covering every inch of Wonder Woman’s skin other than her hands and face. It is just another example of the lack of internal logic with DC’s editors.
The Bad: Lobo #10 is a somewhat dumb issue. There is no real substance to this story. This issue lacked any depth or texture. This was a superficial story that gave little for the reader to chew on and digest. There was not much that engaged the reader’s mind in the least bit.
I would say that the plotting in this issue was weak. But, to say that the plotting is weak would suggest that there were actual plotlines in this issue. I like fighting, but the fight scenes must exist within the context of some interesting and engaging plot lines. We do not get that with this issue. We spend nine pages on the fighting on Nok. The only plot line in these nine pages was that Lobo is hunting Indigo Lanterns. It only takes the reader a few minutes to blast through these nine pages and we are already at the halfway point of the issue!
Then we get three pages with Sinestro and Lobo. This scene offered the reader nothing more than to tell us that Sinestro is dangerous and he is sending Lobo after more Lanterns. It was three pages of fluff that added nothing of value to the story.
Then there is the five-page fight with Rankorr which was a shallow fight that did nothing to create or advance any plot lines. Then we get the final three pages at the Red Lantern’s headquarters. Those three pages just served to rehash that Lobo is hunting Lanterns. And the hook ending of Atrocitus saying that it is time for the Red Lanterns to get revenge? That fell flat. It felt like a generic scene with the hackneyed moment of a villain swearing revenge. There was no plot hook that pulls the reader in and leaves them on the edge of their seat and desperately wanting more.
There are next to no actual plot lines in this issue other than Lobo is hunting Lanterns. And Sinestro is dangerous. Other than that, there are no other plot lines running in this story. There is no real plot progression at all done in this issue. You could easily skip Lobo #10 and read the next issue and not miss anything of importance at all. And a $3.00 demands that the issue actually delivers some sort of content and plot progression. Comics are too expensive these days to justify spending money on an issue that is mostly filler.
The dialogue in this issue was average at best. At times it veered into the type of cheesy dialogue of a low-budget action film. At other times it was simply generic. At no point did any of the characters have a unique external voice.
The character work was totally missing in this issue. All of the characters are nothing more than one-dimensional caricatures. That is the downside of having so many Lanterns in one issue since the various colored Lanterns, outside of the Green Lantern Corps, tend to be rather one-note due to their nature of being the physical manifestation of a single emotion. Sinestro, who can be an absolutely fascinating character, came across as your stereotypical villain.
Unfortunately, the lack of character work extends to the titular character himself. Lobo is aggressive. Lobo is violent. But, Lobo is also pretty bland. He has no depth to his character. He has no substance. And that is okay when Lobo is written as a parody. That is acceptable when he is an over-the-top style character designed more for fun and laughs.
However, here Bunn and Barbieri are attempting to deliver a more straightforward and serious take on Lobo’s character. Lobo is not delivered in a satirical manner. He is not parodying anything. Nothing is played for a laugh. And I am not too sure Lobo’s character works when you try to use him as a regular superhero character. The result is that Lobo comes across as a paper-thin character. His personality is shallow. There is very little to Lobo’s character that the reader can relate to or connect with. At no point do I ever feel invested in Lobo’s character at all.
Even characters like the Punisher who can tend to trend more to the side of a one-note character have the potential to offer a more textured personality. A writer can make the reader sympathetic to the Punisher. There are moments when even the Punisher can feel weakness or sadness. The grief in the Punisher’s heart allows the writer to show the reader something more than the one-dimensional badass. Bunn and Barbieri are going to have to find that aspect of Lobo’s character and pull off that same type of character work in order to make this title a success.
Lastly, Lobo #10 is definitely not kid friendly. The level of violence and gore prevents this from being a comic book that a parent is going to give to their kid to read. I do believe that there is a time and place for violence and gore. But, on a mainstream superhero comic with the DC label on it and starring characters from the Green Lantern franchise? No. I still maintain that to properly grow the comic book industry to the heights that it used to be that DC has to make sure that their mainstream superhero comic books under the DC label stay kid friendly. What goes on under the Vertigo label is an entirely different matter.
Overall: Lobo #10 is a read that simply does not deliver the type of satisfying read that justifies the price of admission. Fair or not, given the ever-increasing price of comics, it is expected for readers to begin increasing their standards as to what is an acceptable amount of content for their dollar. While back in the day, an issue like Lobo #10 would have been acceptable when the cover price for a comic was just .75. But, not these days. If I plunk down $3.00 then I expect a comic book that offers a reading experience that lasts more than five minutes and has enough depth and substance for me to feel satisfied when I reach the end of the issue. There is just no way I can recommend Lobo #10 to anyone outside of die-hard Lobo fans or die-hard fighting fans.