Once upon a time, whenever a character in the DC Universe mentioned "The Main Man," everyone knew exactly who they were talking about: Lobo.
The last of his kind, the homicidal, genocidal space biker made a name for himself in the late 1980s by terrorizing the galaxy and delighting readers. Introduced in 1983's "Omega Men" #3 as an alien bounty hunter who had killed off his entire race, Lobo's fate seemed sealed when the comic was canceled in 1986. But while he seemed destined to be quickly and completely forgotten, Lobo soon found an unexpected level of fame when co-creator Keith Giffen added him in 1989 to the cast of DC's then-new sci-fi series “L.E.G.I.O.N.”
From there, Lobo's cigar-chewing, foul-mouthed, ultra-violent tendencies led the character to a stratospheric rise in popularity. He quickly graduated from his PG sci-fi environs to a number of R-rated solo miniseries that saw him have debauched sex, ratchet the level of violence up to 11, and take on an equally rude and crude canine sidekick. He even hunted down Santa Claus when the Easter Bunny took out a contract on Jolly Old St. Nick.
In a quick span of time, Lobo became DC’s answer to Marvel’s “Wolverine Effect,” wherein a series could expect a sales boost from even the smallest cameo. For years, no cow was too sacred for Lobo to eviscerate, be it with words or his trademark chain and hook, as he continued to headline miniseries after miniseries, all while cementing his role in the greater DC Universe in a popular, less "mature audiences" ongoing title.
Suffice it to say, then, that longtime fans of the character were incensed when they were told that when the DCU rebooted as the New 52, this was the new Lobo:
Gone was the character's traditional unwashed "Sons of Anarchy" look. This Lobo sported a sleek outfit that would be at home on any superhero, and a haircut that would make viewers of "The Vampire Diaries" swoon. Fans swiftly demonized this version of the character on social media, dubbing him "Twilight" Lobo, and his ongoing series was canceled soon after it launched.
To make matters worse, fans had already been introduced to what they thought was the New 52 Lobo, one who was essentially unchanged from his pre-Flashpoint incarnation. As it turned out, this was a fake Lobo, one who was quickly and decisively killed in his shinier, sexier replacement's then-new series. Within the first three pages of the comic, the new Lobo hunted down what readers had previously been told was the real Lobo, decapitating and then frying the "imposter."
Imagine, then, the surprise (and delight) Lobo fans experienced when the Main Man -- the real Main Man -- was announced as not only part of the "Justice League vs. Suicide Squad" crossover, but as a member of Batman's newly formed "Justice League of America" team. It remains to be seen just how similar this Lobo is to his original incarnation, but from what we've read thus far, we're getting the Lobo we've grown to love over the years, even while the heroes of the DCU have grown to fear and/or loathe him. This Lobo swears, smokes incessantly, is loyal to nobody but himself and places value in nothing other than his own word.
Which brings us to the elephant in the room: What happened, then, to the faux-Lobo DC Comics introduced a few years ago? The answer to that was presented, unannounced by the publisher, in the pages of "Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps" #12.
In the midst of a battle with the sole Orange Lantern Larfleeze, who had allied himself with Brainiac in an attempt to collect and categorize, well, everything, we see Guy Gardner heft one of Brainiac's iconic jars -- a jar containing none other than the shrunken form of "Twilight" Lobo. Just as Guy is set to use the jar and its inhabitant as a weapon, Hal grabs the container with a ring-formed hand, saving it from its fate as an interstellar football. "Not that one," Hal tells Guy. "Trust me. Best to leave him on the shelf."
And there he remains -- for now. At some point, he's certain to turn up again, but will it be solely for readers to see him perish at the hands of the real Lobo? Or will his existence play an important role in the still-unfolding Rebirth mystery? And will we ever find out what really happened when we saw Faux-Lobo annihilate what appeared to be the real Lobo? It's too soon to say, but one thing appears to be certain: the real Main Man is backed, and the imposter's reign of shiny, Spandex-clad terror is over.
Lobo will appear regularly in "Justice League of America," which debuts Wednesday, February 8, from Steve Orlando, Ivan Reis, Jo Prado, Oclair Albert, Marcelo Maiolo and Clayton Cowles. "Twilight" Lobo presumably remains on a shelf guarded by the Green Lantern Corps, hidden somewhere deep, deep in Sector 2814.