In case you haven't been following DC Comics news lately, PR hasn't been great for the company. Among the Harley Quinn nude-suicide/Batwoman not getting married debacles, there was a smaller bit of backlash when images of the new design for Lobo, a character who's always been straight out of 90's comics "RRRRR NEED MORE MUSCLES AND POCKETS" phase, were released.
This new Lobo design was announced to appear during DC's "Villain's Month," in Justice League 23.2, "Lobo #1," and many people, myself included, were skeptical. It wasn't so much that the design was terrible, it was more that it just wasn't Lobo. I'm not even a big fan of Lobo (although, like everything else about 52, he was great in 52), but if you're going to introduce a character who seems almost nothing like the original, then why not just make a new character entirely?
Even stranger was the fact that Lobo had already been introduced in the DC New 52, looking pretty much like he always had (which is to say like an albino Hulk Hogan), so the introduction of this new version of Lobo seemed a bit odd.
Well, as it turns out, despite the questionable choices being made at DC, we didn't have that much to worry about, because "Lobo #1" is just fine.
Let me back up a minute. "Lobo #1" is not a great comic. It's not some masterpiece, and the actual story of this one-shot isn't anything you haven't seen before. This is a very typical "Sci-Fi bounty hunter/smuggler" story, to the point where you can almost tell what's going to happen beat for beat. "Oh, Lobo's sitting in the crowd at this party? I wonder if he's there to kill someone?" "Oh, the mysterious cargo Lobo is smuggling is strangely heavy? I wonder what could be inside it?" "Oh, Lobo's cargo turns out to be *spoiler*? I wonder how this will turn out?"
However, as an introduction to this new/old character, this issue works well. The first thing to note is this: The new Lobo actually doesn't look half-bad. I don't think that concept art was very representative of what the new Lobo looks like in action, and in practice he's much more Han Solo, much less Edward Cullen. This version of Lobo is very quickly established as a very cold "only in it for the money and respect" kind of character. And... It works.
But here's the thing that made this issue work for me, above everything else. And this is going to spoil the ending, so if you don't want to know how Lobo #1 ends, and what that means for potential future appearances of the character, stop reading now.
Are they gone? Ok, cool.
So here's what's up with the new version of Lobo (and I think DC may have mentioned this before the book went public, but I'm treating it like a spoiler any way). The Lobo who has been living on Earth for the past two years is not actually Lobo, he's an impostor. He is (I believe this is what this issue was implying) the only other survivor of the true Lobo's rampage and destruction of their home planet, Czarnia. At the end of the issue, the new Lobo receives his payment for the smuggling job, the location of the Lobo impostor, Earth. At the end of the issue, the new Lobo takes off, and heads for Earth, to finish off the only person to ever escape him.
All right, that's pretty cool.
I'm not sure where or when this storyline will be continued, but I'm eager to see where it goes. I'm not saying that I have complete faith that this storyline will be good, but I hope it is, and I can certainly see interesting places they could take it. I'm hoping what they won't do is have New Lobo show up and kill Lobo Classic immediately.
What I'm hoping is for an actual storyline involving a battle between the two, New Lobo showing off his bounty hunter skills to track Lobo Classic down, and maybe even show Lobo Classic trying to recruit the help of other villains, or the Justice League, to stop New Lobo from destroying everything in his path in search of Lobo Classic.
If that's where this storyline goes, and hopefully that's where they're planning on taking it, then count me in. This new version of the main man seems like a pretty cool character to me, and I have only the vaguest affinity for the original version, so I'm ready to see where things go. This is a much better way to introduce a new version of a classic character and shake up the status quo, than, say, what they've done with The Question, which is to say completely ruined The Question.
But that's a topic for another time. The point is, "Lobo #1" is a solid, thought not outstanding, issue, and I'm intrigued to see where they take the character.