After an initial outcry about alterations in his New 52 revival, Lobo has kept something of a low profile, at least on my radar. It’s time to put the main man back in the spotlight where he belongs! Your Major Spoilers review of Lobo #9 awaits!
Writer: Cullen Bunn (plot)/Frank Barbieri (dialogue)
Artist: Szymon Kudranski
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editor: Mike Cotton
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Lobo: The reappearances of Lobo, post-Flashpoint paradox, have been a confusing lot. Initially, a traditional-looking Lobo appeared, but one even more vicious and bloodthirsty than before, claiming to have personally slaughtered his entire Czarnian race and making his living as a slaver. A second Lobo appeared a few months later (one who hearkened back to the characters initial appearances WAAAY back in 80s issues of ‘Omega Men’) swearing to kill the impostor Lobo. Now, he is working as an assassin for hire, but finds his body under control by mysterious parasites from deepest space…
ARACHNOPHOBES NEED NOT APPLY
Our issue opens with Lobo under the mental domination of parasitic spiders, all under the control of on Countess Fabria Odessa, who has dreams of dominating the galaxy with her army of brain-slaves. The story goes a little off the rails for me, though, when her first task for Lobo is to service her sexually. As the Last Czarnian tries to free himself from her spider-drones, we are treated to several pages of discretionary angles, and some truly painful dialogue (“I’ve always hated insects… Never much liked countesses, either.”) that are reminiscent of, but not quite as well-written as the archetypical Wolverine-style tough-protagonist snark. The dialogue continues to be a pain-point throughout the issue, as Lobo (along with a Thanagarian Hawk-fellow and a shape-shifter who is referred to both as a Martian and a Durlan within the issue) is sent off to protect the Countess with deadly force.
NEITHER SHOULD SUBTLETY
Once the sexy-sexy is over, we’re immediately into the fighty-fighty, as a representative of The Citadel (with a helpful note to check out ‘Omega Men’ for the full story there) arrives, kills Lobo’s mind-controlled compatriots, and engages Lobo in one-on-one battle. Needless to say, the battle allows his healing factor (which are briefly referenced as being nanites, now?) to free Lobo’s mind, with murderous intentions to follow. Artwise, this issue isn’t a bad one, with some solid storytelling evidenced by Kudranski’s pencils, but an overzealous coloring job (heavy on wild greens, bright oranges and lighting effects) undermines the effectiveness of the pencils throughout the issue. Worse still, every page is full of dialogue, much of which is the main character’s analysis of what his body is doing, leading to caption box after caption box telling us exactly what we’re seeing on the page. Combine it with the heavy hand applied to that dialogue (“A Lobo always gets his mark”), and it’s hard to enjoy even the best parts of the art…
THE BOTTOM LINE: A LITTLE OVERWROUGHT
One recurring complaint about the modern New 52 is its resemblance to the worst parts of 1990s comic books, a criticism that is more than appropriate for this issue. Lobo seems like a character I could get behind, but this issue careens from awkward spider-sex (with the utterly horrific explanation that the spiders are infiltrating Lobo’s body by exiting the Countess’ sex organs) to fighty-fighty, then right into Lobo’s next mission: Assassinate Thaal Sinestro, the renegade Yellow Lantern. There is clearly going to be more Countess Odessa in the future, but I’m not sure I have much interest in seeing it. Lobo #9 has some solid art on display, and the story/premise seems to have interesting moving parts, but the execution feels retro-90s and quite predictable, leaving us with a disappointed 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. While removing the 90s hyper-muscular Lobo was a good call in my mind, telling exactly the same stories with new intellectual Lobo only leads to comparison, something of which this issue sadly ends on the wrong side…