Out with the old, in with the new in LOBO #1 from writer Cullen Bunn, art by Reilly Brown and Nelson Decastro on inks and Pete Pantazis on color.
The new skinnier, prettier, brand spanking KenDoll! NuLobo, introduced what seems ages ago (and the last I encountered was getting comedically punted by Supergirl and then coming back to slaughter some alien officials) now has his own ongoing. The first thing he attends to? Putting to rest the 90’s ACTION&EXXXTREME parody original (now an “imposter”). He is then set out on an assassin mission from an alien Rhialla in exchange for bail from prison. This pretty boy Lobo carries guilt and weight, something to do with the planet Czarnia (most likely his home planet) going horribly wrong. It’s implied he had a romance with their princess and was the bodyguard to their Emperor. That much we know. Now he must assassinate 8 other assassins.
I have a soft spot for the original Lobo. He’s a relic, but he’s also a character that is extremely useful for commentary and fourth wall wackiness. In a way he has and could function like Deadpool for DC if done right. I know DC has Ambush Bug, but no one really likes him do they? This new Lobo visually actually represents a shift in male aesthetics and pop-culture. Bishounenification, if you will. In comics in the 90s men were beefy and Lobo was a reflection and parody of the Liefield and Lee fed musclebound masculinity power trip tropes that dominated.
In many comics the men still are rather beefy, because it’s a male power fantasy. The new leaner Lobo clearly represents a more female (and queer) ideal for the male form. He’s what most women actually want, not the original Lobo (while most men think the other way around). It’s the Bruce Wayne vs Dick Grayson comparison and why the lithe Nightwing is extremely popular with women and queer readers. So while it’s sad to see the “imposter” original Lobo go, and boy how does he go (they wasted comedic potential keeping both around, constantly squabbling) it is anticipatory to see how the new Lobo follows suit in parodying or reflecting the current pop culture atmosphere. The current narrative features a pretty solid alien feel and worlds thus far; it’s very Mad Max. Which leads to a problem:
This new Lobo is not a self aware title enough, yet. There are elements there, such as a dream sequence that seems right out of a romance novel and features a very much objectified and half naked Lobo painting the princess (this is GOOD) but in general the narrative seems to be playing it rather straight and that is disappointing. He has a weight on his shoulder, loss in his past, is hella attractive, and is good at his job. Boring. In a moment of possible pop-culture reference to Watchman after slaughtering a bunch of guards he does not kill the guard (space) dogs (something Rorschach does do). That part is good. But it’s not enough. This is where Bunn makes a misstep; by replacing the old parody of 90’s machismo with a lean “Cassanova” looking iteration, you really should be driving that up. His idealization and objectification of his beauty should be off the charts as a comedic contrast to how well he does his job killing things. Otherwise this book is just more gore with a pretty but grizzled lead. The new Lobo has a vague Jason Todd feel (and look), which is why I want to push the dark comedy and parody (and objectification of Lobo) more as to set this title apart. Art-wise the coloring is very nice, and they treat NuLobo rather well with some fun expressions and make him physically very good looking (of course). Other times it looks extremely dated and too heavy.
This catches my interest, but they really should embrace the legacy of Lobo as a parody character fully instead of setting out to tell something that is 100% serious. A little more Space Dandy if you will. With more murder. If they do intend to do that, then ramp that up baby, cause people will react better. This will seem somewhat low, but it’s not; I think this has a lot of promise and you should definitely pick it up (though not for the squeamish). They just need to let loose.