Lobo’s back and that means it’s time to showcase some of his old adventures. But why did DC choose to collect a rather sorry group of relatively recent, unrelated stories? If the Main Man doesn’t get some answers soon, he’s going to stab Superman with a hook.
DC COMICS PRESENTS: LOBO #1
Writers: Keith Giffen, Alan Grant, Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman
Pencillers: Cliff Rathburn, Ariel Olivetti, Eric Battle
Inkers: Rob Leigh, Ariel Olivetti, Sandra Hope
Letterers: Bill Oakley, Jack Morelli, John J. Hill
Colorists: Gloria Vasquez, Brad Anderson, Pete Pantazis
Cover: Kevin Nowlan
Editors: Dan Raspler, Tony Bedard
Publisher: DC Comics
“Where th’ frag am I? An’ more t’ th’ fraggin’ point – why am I here?”
A character like Lobo lives or dies by how ridiculous a story he inhabits. There’s not a lot of depth to a bounty-hunting space biker who simultaneously satirizes and embodies the ultraviolent spirit of 1990s comics, and that’s fine. Comics are a great medium for over-the-top bloodshed and ridiculous one-liners, which is why it’s so disappointing that this oversized collection of Lobo stories doesn’t really contain any of those things.
This book reprints DC First: Superman/Lobo #1, Lobo #63-64, and four uncredited pages from the DC Infinite Halloween Special #1, although this is only mentioned in tiny print on the inner cover. This was an impulse purchase for me, and I freely admit that I didn’t realize that the DC Comics Presents imprint meant this was a collection of reprinted material. However, I only discovered these were reprinted stories after my initial read through which had already left me feeling cold. There’s no thematic link between these collected stories other than they all feature Lobo and none are that great, so why this collection even exists is a complete mystery. The DC Comics Presents imprint should ideally serve to introduce interested readers to older, hard-to-find stories that are either the best of the best, or illustrate key moments in a character’s existence. The stories in this collection do neither.
FOR A BLOODY-THIRSTY GUY, IT’S ALL PRETTY BLOODLESS
The first story by Keith Giffen retells the initial meeting of Superman and Lobo, with a bizarrely boring C-plot featuring Jimmy Olsen getting an S-shield tattoo to impress a raver chick. This was written in 2002! Lobo is hired by some generic alien corporation to kill Superman so they can sell Earth’s polluted water as a highly addictive drug to addled cat ladies. This sounds way more awesome than it is. Lobo and Superman trade a few punches, accidentally get sucked through a portal, and then get shot at by drones, causing Lobo to decide to kill his employers off-screen in a very predictable and unsatisfying conclusion. Thoughtfully, DC decided to recycle the yawn-inducing cover of DC First: Superman/Lobo #1 for the cover of this collection so that as little work as possible could be put into this book.
The two included issues of Lobo are the highlight of the book, featuring a Lobo team-up with the demon Etrigan, as the two descend into Hell to recover a misplaced good soul that was meant to be Heaven’s one trillionth served. The interplay between the Main Man and The Demon is surprisingly organic, and it’s a funny set-up. There are a few good gags in this story involving demonic dinosaurs and devilish hippies, coupled with some entertaining art (albeit with very repetitive coloration, but that’s endemic to stories set in Hell), but there’s no sense that these issues of Lobo deserve to be reprinted more than any others. If DC Comics Presents isn’t reprinting the best Lobo issues, why is it reprinting them at all?
The final four pages are an overly long set-up for a one panel joke that is bad by any metric and DC doesn’t even bother to properly credit the book it is lifted from. The less said about it, the better.
NOT WORTH YOUR 8 DOLLARS
The bottom line is, this book feels like an inexplicable, unnecessary cash-in. Why bother reprinting cruddy stories from the past decade that aren’t particularly significant, exemplary or even that entertaining? Lobo’s heyday was in the 1990s, so I’m hard-pressed to understand why the oldest of these stories dates to 1999 (hardly ancient history by comic book standards). The Alan Grant-scripted Lobo/Etrigan in Hell team-up was a little fun, so that will elevate the Lobo 100-Page Spectacular to a whopping one and a half stars. No sound effect counts for this book, since if they’re not going to put in the effort, neither am I.