Over the summer, I dove back into some classic Lobo stories when I picked up a discounted copy of the “Lobo: Portrait of a Bastich” trade paperback. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Lobo, but I thought he was used well in the Giffen “JLI” comics, the Bisley mini-series, and I was glad to see him given a prominent role in “52” a few years back.
And Sam Kieth has always been one of the most iconoclastic comic book artists working in the mainstream in the past 20 years. Kieth’s idiosyncratic style has led to some very good work from “Epicurus the Sage” to “The Maxx” to his more recent work on “Zero Girl” and various Batman miniseries. He’s always been a much stronger, much more fascinating artist that he has been as a writer, and certainly his pairing with Scott Ian from “Anthrax” would at least result in a fun Lobo comic, right?
Nope, “Lobo: Highway to Hell” #1 is an overpriced, tedious mess, something that looks like it was culled from random Sam Kieth sketches and stitched together by what could only tenuously be called a “story.” Sure it’s a series of events, a sequence of scenes, but there’s nothing of substance in this opening issue, and even the attempts at humor aren’t bordering on the realms of the funny. Giffen and Bisley’s classic “Lobo” series may not be all that hilarious in retrospect, but it’s certainly “1980s DC funny.” This thing isn’t even close to that level.
It’s basically Lobo vs. Satan, with the entire first issue spent with Lobo running around looking for the Lord of Evil. Satan doesn’t show up until the final page, with a sight gag that’s the only slightly humorous bit in this comic. The rest of the issue alternates between terribly sketchy Sam Kieth pages and somewhat detailed images of Lobo in full-on silliness and/or anger. Some of the weaker pages in this issue feature barely-rendered stick figures, or what might pass for pencil roughs, in the roughest sense. I can’t believe, even allowing for artistic freedom, that editor Ian Sattler let some of these pages go to the printer. They look radically unfinished, amateurish, embarrassing.
If this is the best Scott Ian and Sam Kieth can do, then two issues is far too long for this series. Maybe as a six-page story in a “Bizarro Comics”-style anthology it would have worked. Because this just doesn’t.