Lobo is a four letter word: My tribute to the Ultimate Bastich
Seriously, fuck you Rob Liefeld. While that’s certainly not an uncommon sentiment I’m sure, perhaps some context would help you understand my cursing?
You see, my dear reader, I was reading the latest batch of comics I’d picked up, preparing for my update on the New 52 next month, when finally I came across the recent issues of Deathstroke. Now, if you remember from my first update on the New 52, I actually really liked the title, it was one of my favorites, albeit a guilty pleasure. All of that changed recently when Rob Liefeld took over the title, quickly ruining it rapidly in ways only he could manage. If it we’re only that, I might not be as upset as I am – sadly however, not content to wreck what had so far been an enjoyable title, Liefeld also took the time to wreck Lobo’s entry into the New 52 in the process, a kick in the teeth for me especially since I am longtime Lobo fan.
For those of you who don’t know, Lobo is a DC Comics character who despite his origins in the eighties, reached the height of his popularity in the nineties along with the likes of Steel, Resurrection Man and Zauriel, though even today, the heights that Lobo reached is surprising. When I was growing up, Lobo was one of the biggest names in comics, complete with a number of comic lines, multiple crossovers, a web series, an independent movie, and even two of the best episodes of the Superman cartoon revolved around him. While there have been plenty of comic characters that have risen in fallen in popularity over the years, especially in the 1990s, what made Lobo stand out was the sort of character and comic he was and is.
For those unaware of his back story, Lobo is the sole surviving member of an alien race known as the Czarnians, the rest of whom were wiped out by Lobo just for kicks (in his own words ‘Fragged them for a high school science project, gave myself an A’). Since then, he became an intergalactic biker and bounty hunter, usually spreading death, destruction and chaos wherever he goes, usually just for his amusement. Now if the thought of an intergalactic albino space-biker/bounty hunter doesn’t put an ear to ear grin on your face, clearly you and I have different senses of humor.
That sense of humor, usually grounded in parody or satire, is a part of what made Lobo such a smashing success, usually taking aim at the bloody, over-the-top anti-heroes that were so popular in the 90s, and often surpassing them in the process. The fantastic art and smart writing of the early Lobo comics are both still sharp today, and is ironically the highlight of a comic that revolved around mindless violence and debauchery. Another thing that made Lobo interesting was that, unlike many of the anti-heroes he parodied, there was some detail and depth given to the character, from his colorful language and unique curse words (‘bastich’ and ‘frag’ in particular), code of honor (rogue he is, he always keeps his promises), to a near-religious fanaticism toward protecting dolphins across the universe. Yet perhaps what made Lobo unique, even today for the most part, was his motivations – although he is nearly indestructible, and powerful enough to go fifteen rounds with Superman, he never went down the route of being either a hero or a villain, one of the rare chaotic-neutral (emphasis on chaotic) comic characters, one more interested in having adventures and a good time rather than heroics or villainy.
Lobo’s reach and impact, as both a comic and a character, is surprising in its size for such a relatively minor character. In his time, he got a huge number of miniseries and one-offs, usually taking aim at various issues or topics, including the fairly self-explanatory Convention Special, which lampooned comic convention culture, to the delightfully wicked Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special, which followed Lobo being hired by the Easter Bunny to kill Santa Claus, and it was even made into a short film. He was also one of the most frequent characters used for guest appearances, and even cross-company crossovers, the most notable of which was his battle with Wolverine in the DC vs. Marvel crossover event, where he got to face off against the character he was created to lampoon. Perhaps most notably, the style and sense of humor would inspire a number of imitators, the most successful of which was Marvel’s Deadpool, who in many ways, became the 2000s version of Lobo.
Perhaps most personally for me at least was that Lobo, aside from Aquaman, my favorite comic growing up. Originally attracted to the fact he was basically an intergalactic action hero with a heavy metal bent (some things never change), the sharp writing and satirical bent is what hooked me, and likely played a role in shaping my own rather sardonic sense of humor. Well, that and my habit of saying frag instead of the f word, but I digress.
Which is why I so saddened to see what is becoming of Lobo for the near future, and it’s nothing good. As if Liefeld fumbling up Lobo’s entry into the New 52 isn’t bad enough, there’s sour news concerning the long-rumored Lobo movie. While rumor had it that originally it was to be directed by Guy Ritchie and star Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Lobo – all things considered, both would be a perfect fit – it now looks to be headed for one hell of a downgrade. While rumors say the actor to play the Main Man may be Dwane ‘The Rock’ Johnson, the real heartbreaker is Brad Peyton is likely the new director, because nothing quite says ‘this movie is doomed’ like having it helmed the guy that made the horrendous and unwanted sequel to Cats and Dogs. Frag…
I know it may be too much to ask for, but I hope the Main Man has a brighter future in store for him than what Rob Liefeld and the rumored movie have in store. Lobo is a revered cult classic character, and one which put in the right hands could certainly find a place in pop culture again, especially since we are for all intents and purposes we live in a golden age as far as comics in pop culture are concerned. At the very least, Lobo deserves better than Rob Liefeld and Brad Peyton.