Created in the early ’80s by Keith Giffen and Roger Slifer as a parody of violent Marvel characters like Wolverine and Punisher, Lobo — a villain-turned-intergalactic antihero — made his DC Comics debut in 1983 in “Omega Men” #3.
Lobo reached dizzying heights of popularity in the ’90s with the groundbreaking four-part miniseries “Lobo: The Last Czarnian” by Giffen, Alan Grant and artist Simon Bisley. From there, he headlined several more minis, one-shots and an ongoing title before his star burned out, and he was relegated to the occasional guest=starring role in other series.
The character was reintroduced — twice — as part of DC’s New 52 relaunch. A familiar version of the character appeared in Rob Liefeld’s “Deathstroke” series, and a little more than a year later, a leaner, ‘prettier’ version designed by Kenneth Rocafort and said to be the “real” Lobo was introduced to much controversy during DC’s Villains Month event.
CBR News connected with the creative team exclusively to discuss the news, and learned that both the “real” Lobo of the New 52 and the impostor will be featured in their series. Bunn and Brown also shared some memories of their early experiences with the character, Lobo’s origins before he became a “coldblooded killer” and whether or not Lobo, the real one, is a good or bad guy.”
CBR News: Though he’s not an A-lister, Lobo has enjoyed a devout following since his first appearance in 1983. Are you a fan of the character? Is there a specific issue or storyline that served as your introduction to the character?
Cullen Bunn: I was actually reading “Omega Men” when Lobo made his first appearance, but I really started to appreciate the character during those great Alan Grant issues. I guess “The Last Czarnian” is the story I think about the most, but I don’t think that was my first exposure to Grant’s take on the character. In recent years, I haven’t really kept up with Lobo, but I’d still consider myself a fan.
Reilly Brown: When I was in high school, “Lobo” was one of the books that my friends and I passed around the most. We were kind of blown away by a DC character who was so over the top, and not at all in the traditional Superman/Batman mold. There weren’t many of those around back then. I think the part where he surgically altered his brain to constantly play heavy metal particularly sold me.
His ultra-violent tendencies, not unlike Wolverine or Deadpool, are what intoxicate many of his fans. How do you safeguard against him becoming a one-trick pony? Or do you just embrace what Lobo is and go hog wild?
Bunn: Violence is just one aspect of the character. It’s there, and it’s something we are going to embrace in this series, but we’ll also be exploring facets of Lobo that haven’t really been brought into the spotlight. He had a life, a job, a family, a lover long before he became the cruel, devious man-hunter we’ll see in this series. We’re going to look at what shaped him into the coldblooded killer he is today.
Brown: Also, when done right and applied creatively, ultra violence can be a whole stable of ponies.’This story’s going to have me looking up photo reference for things that I really don’t want to see. Thanks, Cullen. â€¨
Since the dawn of the New 52, we have seen two versions of Lobo. Will your series be featuring the “real” Lobo, who was introduced during Villains Month, or the “imposter” unleashed by Rob Liefeld in “Deathstroke?”
Bunn: The “real” Lobo is the star of our series, and I think he gives us a lot more mileage for new stories and avoiding some of the dangers of the “one trick pony” you mentioned earlier. There’s so much we don’t know about this character, because we’ve only seen him very, very briefly.
Brown: Personally I’m psyched for the chance to be able to develop the new character from pretty much the ground up. That’s one of the most fun things about making comics, and an opportunity that can be rare at the Big Two.
Will the “imposter” be featured too?
Bunn: The other character, “Faux-bo” as we’ve been calling him, will play a role in the book, but it might be a little surprising to readers. Lobo has been hunting Faux-bo for a while now. That hunt will reach its conclusion pretty quickly. We’ll be looking into why someone might steal Lobo’s identity as the series progresses.
One of my earliest pitches for the series featured both Lobos in an odd couple/buddy cop misadventure across the universe. It was sort of a “Simon & Simon” story featuring the Lobo brothers. In the end, that didn’t fly. And as much fun as I think that might have been, it’s probably for the best.
Brown: It was fun drawing both of them, and seeing the differences in how they behave. I hope there are more opportunities to draw Faux-bo in the future.
Is Lobo the good guy in this series? Or does he at least think that he is?Â
Bunn: Lobo doesn’t think he’s a “good” guy, but he’s pretty sure he’s the “best” guy for any given job. He’s certainly an anti-hero, but something we’re introducing in this series is Lobo’s code. He follows a rather extensive code of honor. Keep in mind, this is a sense of honor for a Czarnian, so it might seem a little strange to us. We’ll be revealing the elements of this code piece by piece as the series progresses.
Brown: What Lobo considers “good” isn’t necessarily what the other DCU characters think is “good,” and that’s the fun of the series.
Who or what threat is Lobo up against when the series opens? Â Â
Bunn: In many ways, Lobo is hired to play defense against several deadly assassins, all of whom have taken out a contract on the same target. Lobo’s job is to murder the murderers before they can accomplish their goals. So, Lobo’s first opposition will be the killers he is going after. And his interference will not go unnoticed by the forces that are funding the operations for the various hit squads.
The shadowy conspiracy behind the hit is connected to Lobo in a way that will rattle him to the core.
Brown:‘The main villains of the series are new characters, and I’m excited to get into designing them.’They’re very cool and unique, and a whole lot of fun. I’m also interested in seeing how Lobo deals with each of them.
For those who have missed the New 52 introduction — or introductions — of Lobo but know the character from his heyday, what do readers need to know about this updated version?
Bunn: I think we’ll be telling you everything you need to know about the character in this series. Readers will get a strong sense of who Lobo is, where he came from, what he’s thinking, and what he’s capable of.
Brown: The new Lobo is certainly a different character than the classic version, but I’m hoping that fans will see that a lot of what they loved about the old series is still here. It’s just a different flavor.’
The series is being solicited as “blood-soaked,” so we have a hint about the level of action in the series, but what can you share about the book’s structure? Will be seeing one and done adventures or longer arcs?
Bunn:The first arc is six issues in length, with Lobo going after different assassins. And, yes, these issues will be pretty violent. Future stories may be one-and-done adventures or longer arcs, but initially we’re taking six issues to set up the character and highlight some mysteries that will need to be unlocked in future issues.
Brown: Mysteries like, “What’s the best laundry detergent for getting out blood stains?” [Laughs]
Does Lobo have a supporting cast and/or will the series cross over with other titles in the New 52?Â
Bunn: In the second issue, we’ll be introducing a team of assassins who are joining up with Lobo. He prefers to work alone, but he’s not given much of a choice in the matter. There will be some other high profile guest stars showing up in later issues of the series.
Brown: Interacting with other characters is one of the fun aspects of working in the DCU. As a character who’s such an outsider, and who is so different than the traditional superhero mold, with such a different code of honor, it’ll be interesting to see how he plays off the other classic DC characters. Who he gets along with and who he doesn’t.
Reilly has a history illustrating violent characters, specifically Deadpool, over at Marvel. Cullen, artistically, what does Reilly bring to a project?â€¨
Bunn: A violent story about an anti-hero like Lobo can delve into some dark territory. Reilly handles the “mean” aspects of the story like a champ, but he also manages to infuse the page with a sense of humor that balances the brutality very nicely.
Brown: Thanks. I think my time in the Deadpool trenches over at Marvel has prepared me pretty nicely for a series like “Lobo.” Both characters have big personalities with questionable moral codes, and both engage in entertainingly violent extracurricular activities. I think anyone who’s read my Deadpool work will enjoy what I’m doing here with Lobo. I know I am.
What do you like most about Lobo’s look and feel? And is there something special about your design that you think separates him from previous artists’ takes?
Brown: The most fun part about Lobo is definitely his attitude. His facial expressions, body language, and how he carries himself. He’s got a lot of personality, and that’s what I really like drawing. I also like the addition of the blue to his face paint in the current design. I think there are some cool things that can be done with that.
There have only been a few artists who have drawn the current design, so there’s not too much precedent, but I think I’m going to try to streamline the design a bit. Perhaps treat his outfit more like that’s just the style of clothes that he wears, rather than a standard uniform. We’ll see what the editors let me get away with.
Who do you think drew the most iconic version of Lobo over the years and have you gone back to look at that version for inspiration?
Brown: Oh yeah! I definitely have some classic Simon Bisley images up on my desk that I refer to. For me, his visuals really defined what the character’s all about.
“Lobo,” by Cullen Bunn and Reilly Brown, debuts October 1, 2014.