So, what happens when you’re responsible for protecting a highly valuable client, who has a contract set against him — and in the middle of all this, you have to find the person who’s stolen your identity? If your name is Lobo, an intergalactic bounty hunter, it’s all in a days work.
Created in 1983 by Roger Slifer and Keith Giffen, Lobo has often been referred to as DC Comics’ version of Wolverine and The Punisher. He is brash and he inflicts his own style of violent justice. Now comes Volume 1, titled Targets, which is a collection of the first six issues of Lobo’s revival/return to his own solo series for the DC universe of the New 52. His return is done in grand style from the first page onward.
Written by Cullen Bunn (DC’s Sinestro & Marvel’s Deadpool) with artwork by Reilly Brown and Nelson Decastro, this latest incarnation of the anti-hero biker is a very different take from the tale from the 1980s and ‘90s. Gone is the steroid-rage wrestler type, replaced now by a lean and still quite mean younger, suave looking athletic type. He’s more James Bond than Hulk Hogan. Does it work? For the most part, it does but not without some issues.
The opening panels have Bunn set the stage where there can only be one Lobo. The scene begins shortly after one Lobo decapitates another character with the victor making the proclamation of being the true Lobo. Afterwards, the new Lobo experiences several nightmares that haunt him regarding his home world of Czarnia and a past lover. Bunn gives us a tease of this character’s past, who he was and who he is now.
Later, as we turn the pages, we see that Lobo while in prison, is given an offer by a would-be client that’s hard to refuse. He is offered bail money and payment in exchange for hunting down the galaxy’s deadliest assassins. We learn that these six assassins are headed to the planet Earth, each with a contract on the same target. The client wants to hire Lobo to prevent the execution. Given a choice between jail and freedom, Lobo accepts and heads to Earth.
This ends up being a worthwhile introduction. Writer Bunn does not make it complex with too many details of the type that can oftentimes bog down a plot. It’s kept very simple, and Bunn gives the reader just enough about Lobo’s back-story and what he is capable of doing to keep us interested. The story isn’t overly great but there is enough there for a fan of this character to take in, digest and hunger for more. And at the end of the day, that’s all any reader could ever ask.
One of the things I did appreciate the most about this graphic novel was the fight scenes and action sequences that were showcased. The attention to detail was spot on and beautiful, a huge credit to both Brown and DeCastro, who show a keen eye. I expect to see more of the same going forward. Very rarely do you see a dark and violent world depicted so brightly and with such vivid flare.
If you’re a fan of either the original ‘80s style Lobo that first appeared in Omega Men #3 or his ‘90s return as the anti-hero biker, the character itself is relatively the same, with just a fresher take and approach. Like pretty much with every other New 52 character, a new approach to an old character is par for the course. While some may not embrace it as easily as others there are those who embrace change and are willing to give anything a chance.
I think the best way to look at this new Lobo is with a fresh pair of eyes. It’s better to not compare him with the past but instead see him as a brand new character altogether for the next generation of comic book fans. The biggest issue I have with this new representation is his lack of uniqueness. There is nothing here to help differentiate him from other DC characters that have an edge to them. Granted this is only the first volume of his character development. We did get some teases of his past in this book. So perhaps Bunn is pacing himself. We’ll have to wait and see with future installments.
Finally, while I don’t feel like Lobo is my cup of tea, he reminds me more of The Punisher than Wolverine and I’m not a big Punisher fan. That aside, I do however believe that the DC Universe or any comic book universe for that matter is big enough and diverse enough for all taste. In the end, I recommend Volume 1: Targets to those who crave a different kind of hero or in Lobo’s case, anti-hero. I think writer Bunn does a solid enough job with his storytelling, which is quite entertaining if not slightly uneven given the aforementioned lack of uniqueness of the character.
But the real strength here is in the artwork itself. It’s the art that takes center stage and becomes the main reason why this graphic novel is such a page-turner. It is beautiful and dazzling to look at. The colors, the representation of the characters is simply gorgeous. Even the mayhem is something to behold. It reminds you why we love this medium of storytelling.
© James P. Brown, 2015