All good things must come to (somewhat) of an end in Lobo #6 written by Cullen Bunn, art by Reilly Brown, color by Peter Pantazis and lettering by Travis Lanham.
Lobo has been an oddball of a book; giving nuLobo a tragic back story, a more serious and a bit less over the top version of himself wrapped up in a skinnier “heartthrob” package. Tone wise it flips flops between a space-y Tarantino romp with equal parts violence and humor and blatant objectification of Lobo a la Dick Grayson, and then extreme, same old grit. What has made this book interesting is that Lobo, an apparent loner (like all “loners”, looking at you Wolverine) actually amassed something of a team of hitmen within the last few books, assigned to him to help; a young girl named Emily, a cowgirl get-up wearing Luna and a mustached bald guy named Rave. It’s actually a promising team; two were (yeah were) poc women and Emily was not drawn as rather skinny either.
The current narrative follows them and Lobo as he hunts down the murderous Pariah, who like Lobo is the last of her people, a population offshoot from Czarnia who had inhabited their nearby moon. Both planets were destroyed due to Lobo, at least Lobo has long believed he was the cause after killing the former Emperor. Pariah teased him last issue, asking if he really believed it was he that destroyed their planets.
The planet and the emperor on Czarnia were connected somehow (something to do with dipping pools) and the current Emperor at the time had gone mad, Lobo believes poisoned, ultimately tainting the planet by extension. Lobo does what he is supposed to, and tries to eliminate the Emperor for that. His former paramour The Princess, also seemingly poisoned and brainwashed tries to stop him and he slays her before killing the Emperor successfully. He seals the planets fate and escapes, now branded The Lobo.
In the present Rave, Lobo and Luna set out to seek out The Pariah, who is the last hit on Lobo’s current list of folk who were bent on destroying the Earth. Rave is gutted off page by the Pariah while Lobo thinks back to him “killing” Czarnia, and then finds Pariah with Luna literally neck under foot. You can imagine how well that goes, and they show it. Naturally, even though he “doesn’t care”, Lobo does and he sets out to kill Pariah in response who admits to being the one to poison the Emperor which drove him mad, setting things up for Lobo to be her ultimate weapon/scapegoat. She taunts him further seeing if he wants to know who hired her to do it, that’s right, hired her to, but he doesn’t want to hear it from her and seemingly finished his contract, killing her.
Art is a bit more realistic and somber than what we’ve been having, a bit stiff and ugly to be honest which isn’t really a positive but it’s getting there. This is the least handsome Lobo yet. Allison Borges drawn flashbacks are missing here, and while the art is not my favorite, the coloring still makes it pretty striking to look at especially the flashback pages.
The series has been very violent but in an almost Kill Bill sort of manner with a degree of hyperbole. This issue felt just…gritty. I feel this issue has been the most brutal. Obviously Bunn killing two people who we’ve gotten mildly used to will do this. To be honest neither Rave nor Luna were used enough to get truly solid ideas of their character so in a way it feels cheap as they’re already so new, but they had decent enough designs and personalities, particularly when playing off of Emily, that they could have lasted as characters. I know this is exactly what they wanted me to feel with them being killed but I feel from a writing perspective, as a writer myself, there is a loss of opportunity to actually add cool new characters to the DC Canon. I feel like DC has been tanking when it comes to introducing lasting and memorable new characters (where is Element Woman?!) since the reboot (Harper Row seems one of the closest but her origins are muddled with replacing Cass Cain in a narrative) and Rave and Luna could have endured.
While the art is not my cup of tea this issue and quite frankly I’m pissed at the fridging and loss of potential for these characters independent to Lobo, I can say the art is sophisticated enough and well drawn enough to put this higher than most other mainstream books, who can have pretty atrocious looking art. It’s weighty and fits the gritty tone. I really would like the level of parody and again Tarantino-esque humor be really played up but it seems like Bunn is bent on playing it pretty straight for the most part. We’ll see. The book is still rather decent, though it definitely loses points for how Luna died. That was not cool. At all.