Saturday, August 24, 2013

The New Lobo

(cross-posted from D-Kos)

I really shouldn't be bothered by these things. I haven't bought and read comic books in years. Once a fanboy, always a fanboy, I guess; and when I read about comics companies revamping characters I've known and loved, even if they're obscure third-stringers -- heck, especially if they're obscure third-stringers -- it bugs me.

The latest one, however, is kind of amusing. But it will require a bit of explanation, perhaps, for you to understand exactly what DC Comics has done to LOBO, THE LAST CZARNIAN.

About a year or two back, DC Comics rebooted it's whole universe. It's something that happens every other decade or so and something fans have come to accept as part of the Circle of Life. DC has used the reboot as an excuse to make changes in a lot of its characters; in some cases updating them, in some cases finding new takes for them. This isn't new either; back in the late 1950s, editor Julie Schwartz ushered in the Silver Age of Comics by revamping Golden Age characters like the Green Lantern and the Flash, bringing them up-to-date and finding new approaches for them.

Some of the changes in "The New 52", as DC calls it's new line-up, have been decent. From all reports, the new Aquaman is pretty good. Some are controversial, but make some sense from a narrative point of view, such as undoing Barbara Gordon's paralysis and having her be Batgirl again, or having Superman start dating Wonder Woman.

Some I find really annoying, such as changing the Steve Ditko character The Creeper from a wacky guy in a costume into an actual demon Yeah, the Creeper's pretty obscure, but I've always liked him and I think making him a demon is actually less interesting than what he was.

Worse than that is what they did to Amanda Waller, the tough administrator of the Suicide Squad, a government task-force that recruits super-villains for covert missions. She was originally a short, stocky middle-aged woman who looked tough enough to wrestle Granny Goodness two falls out of three. One early issue of SUICIDE SQUAD showed her facing down Batman. Yes, the Batman. Now, she's been transformed into a slim, leggy super-model.

But I was talking about Lobo.

Lobo (whose name in an obscure alien dialect means "He-who-devours-your-entrails-and-enjoys-it-thoroughly") first appeared as a villain in a space-based series called OMEGA MEN (which for some reason I always thought was connected somehow with ALPHA FLIGHT. It wasn't.) He was a space bounty-hunter on a rocket-bike; an amoral sociopath who looked like he wandered off the stage of a KISS concert. He was brought back in the late '80s by his creator Keith Giffen as a parody of Wolverine and the kind of violent anti-heroes who were becoming popular at that time.

To Giffen's surprise, the character became popular, becoming a supporting character in the comic book L.E.G.I.O.N. and the title character of a long-running series of his own. The Lobo of the '90s was a big, scruffy, muscular biker dude, dripping with chains, weapons and testosterone.

Which is why his fans -- and yes, Lobo has fans -- were shocked when DC revealed a new look for the character. Apparently, DC's editorial staff decided that the swaggering over-the-top psychopath fans have known and loved was too comedic. As his new writer put it:
"My goal for him was to make him less comically hyper-masculine and more focused. He's still vicious, still savage and still entirely immoral, but I wanted a gravity out of the character. When he showed up, I didn't want him walking away from explosions and smoking a cigar. When he shows up, I want people to feel like, 'This is it. This is the end.'"
The New Lobo is younger, sleeker, and dare I say it, prettier. what we have here is a bishonen Lobo. I can't help but wonder if he sparkles.

But although I will mock the new bishou Lobo, I can't manage to work up some good outrage over the change. He was a fun character in small doses, but I never really liked him much. Not as much as I liked the Creeper or Amanda Waller.

There were probably fans of the Golden Age Green Lantern who complained when Julie Schwartz made him a Space Cop. "You don't understand the character!" So maybe this new guy calling himself Lobo will turn out to be a decent villain.

Won't stop me from mocking him, though.

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