It wasn’t that bad.
Despite the outcry from the internet we still got a redesigned Lobo this week. For all my own prejudices against the look we saw when DC announced Lobo would get a totally new look, I decided to try the book. Despite a few flaws it wasn’t that bad.
Expectations were at an all time low for the book, especially after writer Marguerite Bennett co-wrote that awful Batman stand alone issue before Zero Year began. Having ripped that off my chest, lets talk about the new Lobo debut. It actually makes sense. On the surface of this issue we follow this new Lobo as he engages in a people trafficking job across the galaxy. Through his own heavy internal monologue we learn how this Lobo compares and contrasts with the one DC comics fan’s know and love. This issues narrative hiccups are more due to indecision from Bennett’s script than bad character design. Here we get a juxtaposition of Lobo’s vile nature followed by an out of place internal joke so much so that it quickly becomes predictable and tedious for any version of Lobo.
Where the old Lobo was a beer drinking redneck kind of bad-ass, this new version of the character makes him more sinister and ruthless in a Mad Men sort of way. DC appears to want to take him away from the things that compared the character to the likes of Wolverine and make him more tactical. Much of the character’s origins are left intact, he’s still a Czarnian bounty hunter who blew up his planet, with one subtle difference that will lead to a knock down drag out fight in the future between the Lobos.
The pretty boy look, of let’s call him Newbo for now, is definitely an acquired taste. While the pompadour and slimmer figure can be pleasing to the eye, you have a hard time figuring out how this guy is suppose to be able to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Superman (at some point). Although the way artist Ben Oliver uses the design in this issue is the real saving grace of Justice League 23.2. He makes use of every function in the redesign in poignant ways throughout the issue and they just flat out look good.
Ultimately Justice League 23.2 went above its job of introducing this new Lobo and making him interesting enough for readers to want to see what’s next for him. However making him too similar characteristically to the original was both a strength and a weakness. The issue feels like a cover song, but the best ones don’t just rehash something that’s reminiscent of the original, instead they bring something new to the table and there just wasn’t enough of that here.
6.5 out of 10! Good. This won’t please hardcore Lobo fans but it might just win the general comic audience over enough to warrant more.