There’s certainly been no shortage of controversy regarding the new designs for Lobo, but the heavily muscled Main Man everyone has learned to love to hate still makes an appearance on the cover of “Justice League #23.1: Lobo.” Of course, there is that timeless saying, “Never judge a book by its cover.”
Not many readers are going to be quick to defend the version of Lobo Rob Liefeld dragged into his tenure on “Deathstroke,” but more than a few readers have certain expectations when it comes to how the Last Czarnian should be portrayed. While many characters have been altered for their reintroduction to the DC Universe following the great reboot of 2011, few characters have been reinvented since their New 52 debut. Writer Marguerite Bennett doesn’t so much as deconstruct Lobo as she launches the character from a new perspective. Set in deep space, “The Last Paycheck” wastes no time establishing Lobo as a ruthless and efficient bounty hunter. Pegged by other writers as a “rockabilly” interpretation of Lobo, this version of the character handles his business effectively and thoroughly. Bennett uses the bounty hunter’s thoughts to narrate the story, which glides along nicely. Readers investing their patience are certain to get a nice, surprising payoff.
For all the gnashing of teeth and beating of breasts that the sneak peek of Lobo’s new look elicited, artists Ben Oliver and Cliff Richards deliver a sleek, clean character who looks more like a metrosexual galactic version of Skinner Sweet than the cliched biker ruffian we’ve grown accustomed to as Lobo. Some of the visuals, like the blue, glowing marks on Lobo’s face are going to take some getting used to, but for the most part, the visual holds together nicely. Oliver isn’t the first artist I think of to depict aliens and far away planets, but he certainly earns his keep here, making a solid case for a spin in the artist’s chair on a title like “Green Lantern” or “Legion of Super-Heroes.” The glowing blue flecks aside, colorist Daniel Brown does a nice job with the visuals. Letterer Sal Cipriano’s choice of putting the streaky eyes in Lobo’s dialog boxes makes those boxes unnecessarily cluttered. Simple white type in black boxes would be more effective and cohesive with the overall sleekness of “Justice League #23.1: Lobo.”
Much more rich than the parody of the parody that Lobo (as we know him) has become since his introduction in “Omega Men” #3 way back in 1983, this character is someone who has a story to share. He’s just as much a ruthless bastich, but the twist Bennett throws in, combined with the supple artwork from Oliver and company makes Lobo a character I’m now much more interested in. Score one for the Villains Month gimmick.