Nineties Antihero though was the one-two punch of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. A lesson was learned from these two series, unfortunately it was the wrong lesson. Adultness was conflated with extreme violence rather than narrative complexity and soon a horde of irony free murdering psychopath "heroes" were unleashed on the world by the early Image gang and the Marvel and DC comics playing catch-up with them. This of course was ripe for parody, what's interesting about this Lobo book is that it actually collects two series from 1990 and 1991, before the worst excesses of the Image era happened. It's both a prescient parody and an embodiment of a change that was taking place, and not always a change for the better. Luckily it more than stands the test of time in other ways, being wonderfully drawn by Simon Bisley and hilariously written by Keith Giffen and Alan Grant.
Lobo was created in 1983 as a fairly uninteresting villian and was rarely used until the comics collected in this trade paperback redefined him as a ridiculously over the top anti-hero, gaining him a significant cult following that has kept him a regular in the DCU ever since. Even creator Keith Giffen seemed bemused by this, in an interview from 2006 quoted on Wikipedia he said "I have no idea why Lobo took off... I came up with him as an indictment of the Punisher, Wolverine hero prototype, and somehow he caught on as the high violence poster boy. Go figure." It was the 90's Keith, nothing more needs to be said.
|Look he maybe a parody, but he is pretty badass as well.|
|He's not all bad. He lives with a pod of space dolphins and is known to "frolick" with them sometimes.|
|Lobo escorts Ms. Tribb|
Vril Dox: "Started well, too. Lobo took out that problematic police chief - a potential rival. The paramilitary grannies go after him. Lobo can take care of them too - and remove another troublesome radical group. Ditto that for the gang of space biker hoodlums. The truckers and the Destructo Dance Company were and unexpected bonus... especially with the way the truckers union has been dabbling in politics. It was so simple. Lobo kills. And w walk in a restore order."
But between issue's Lobo and his charge have gone missing, causing Vril Dox to freak out. But where can Lobo be. Well, he was knocked out via gas and he and Mrs. Thribb were kidnapped to take part in a spelling bee. Yes, really. The aliens are the Orthogrophy Commandos, to whom falls the task of "making the universe free of the ignorant and functionally illterate". Things look bad for Lobo, but the aliens ask him to spell words like "genocide" and "mutilation". So as the rest of the contestants are killed off, the final ends up between Lobo and Tribb. The aliens then say they have to "Spell, conjugate and suggest suitable antonyms". This causes Lobo to complain that it isn't fair that he is up against a teacher. Tribb pipes up that she's been badly abused by Lobo, he even cut her legs off to stop her wandering off. This offence results in Lobo being even more securely locked down.
|Spelling Bee's are srsbznss|
Lobo: *sigh* A friggin' colostomy woulda been more fun than this."
So he decides to liven things up a bit. And annouces over the planetary tannoy system:
Lobo: "Enjoyin' yer vacations? Good! 'Cuz now it's time for me to start enjoyin' mine. The rules are simple so listen up...in exactly five hours I start killin' anyone still on this mudball."
|Yes, basically the plot is resolved by everything exploding. You expected more?!|
Vril Dox: ".. you did a good job. I'll take her into custody now."
Lobo: "Thanks. Thought ya'd never say it. Class dismissed teach."
And he breaks Tribbs neck.
Lobo: "Delivered alive and into your custody - that was the deal - didn't say nothin' 'bout after you had custody! Have a nice day.. haw haw haw!"
And so ends the first miniseries that redefined Lobo as a totally over the top violent grotesque of a character, whose misdeeds are so gloriously rotten, you can't help liking the bastich. Well I do anyway. The next miniseries included in this volume - Lobo's Back - manages to be even more offensive mainly of grounds of religion. Dealing as it does, with Lobo's extensive misadventures in DC's Judeo-Christian afterlife. The "story" driving things is even thinner than the first miniseries. Basically Lobo gets killed while trying to collect a big bounty target and the rest of the story is him trying to get reincarnated just before his death so he can win the fight. Hilarity, as they say, ensues.
[Just an aside, but the DCU afterlife and general theological issues that come from having characters like Wonder Woman who has ties to the Greek Pantheon and characters like the Spectre who is basically a Christian angel are incredibly fascinating. Many writers have depicted a very Dante inspired heaven and hell in the DCU, but when masses of aliens died during the crossover series Invasion, they set up their own heaven and hells on the fringes of the Christian heaven and hell. As well as the Greek Gods actually existing, there are also the New Gods to consider as well. And as this Lobo series will prove, Buddha, Kali and possibly Zeus and Odin are lurking about as well. I could literally write a thesis on religion in the DCU it's so magnificently complicated yet weirdly inclusive. Anyway, back to Lobo.]
|A duel with added MANLINESS|
Lobo: "Yer my kinda guy Loo. Almost makes me feel sorry fer the brutality and carnage that's about to go down. Almost"
Loo: "Ya ain't taking me in alive Lobo!"
Lobo: "Whatever made yah think I intend to?"
They then exchange a terrific amount of gunfire. Then start knife fighting when the ammo runs out. Before Lobo can declare victory, Loo calls out for help from "Brother Feces" and Lobo is blown in half and killed by the dwarf that was hiding in Loo's bag.
|"Gaze into the Fist Of Dre..Lobo!"|
Lobo: "Am I gonna haveta wear those girlie robes?"
Duffiel: "I'm uh.. afraid so. Um, pardon me for asking but.. bit of a hit with the ladies were you?"
Lobo: "Ain't had no complaints bird-boy! Think that gag'll get by without being censored?"
Duffiel: "Hard to say. We've not had an editor up here yet."
Tee hee! Anyway, Lobo isn't too impressed with Heaven, and soon has grabbed a lute and is singing heavy metal and causing the assembled angels to start slam dancing. Lobo ends up back in the Afterlife Bureaucrat's office, saying this could all be sorted if they would just send him back to Dooley-7. The bureacrat refuses and sends Lobo off to hell with an emissary the Jack Kirby creation Etrigan the Demon. They end up having a punch-up and Lobo is returned to the bureaucrat with the threat that if they don't take him back, all of Hell will move in with Heaven to escape him.
Finally the bureacrat agrees to allow Lobo to reincarnate. But decides to screw him over at the last moment. Instead of sending him back to Dooley-7 in Lobo's present, he sends him back to London in 1940 during the worst days of the Blitz. Also he puts him in a female body.
|AAAH My Eyes! My Eyes!!|
Lobo: "Three guesses what happened to ta th'last clown ta cross me? In exactly one minute, if I am still here, I show you."
Lobo is put up for reincarnation again. But just after he is sent to Dooley-7 one of the lackeys admits to the bureacrat that Czarnian (Lobo's racial name) means something else in an obscure Dooley-7 dialect. Turns out it's a type of squirrel, which Lobo incarnates as, much to his displeasure. It's a short-lived incarnation anyway, Lobo is still battling Loo and when he gets blown in half he falls on Squirrel-Lobo and kills him, sending a raging Lobo back to the Afterlife Processing Centre. He also earns a slap from Death (the Neil Gaimen version believe it or not) for trying to feel her up. He's greeted back in the afterlife by guns, lots and lots of guns.
|Heaven's Christian Soldiers.|
Lobo: "Keep 'em coming. I ain't biased. Hindu, Christian, Jew, Agnostic, Baptist.. yer all the same to tha' main man. Frag fodder!"
More soldiers, including elites and flying ones from various heavens and hells attack as well as a papal parody of Sgt. Rock and Easy Company. He murderises them all. It is pointed out that no one is actually dying because they are already dead, but Lobo is making things painful and inconvenient for everyone. And then, oh dear, as if things haven't got offensive enough, a gang of Gods from various pantheons attack him.
|Mere words could not do the blasphemy justice. I'm an atheist and even I'm offended (slightly).|
Finally after beating down all the other Gods, Lobo makes it back to the Bureaucrat's place, but gets shot with a reincarnation cannon, which does this time send him back to Dooley-7. But just after he got shot in half. This time though he stays living and shoots and kills both Feces and Loo. Then wanders off on his hands, with his legs slung over his shoulder, looking for a stapler. The miniseries ends with Lobo having immortality granted to him because they never want him back in the Afterlife again. Which is a character element that stuck over the years, at least until the universal DC reboot of The New 52. Which must have rebooted the Afterlife as well, or something.
|Finally Lobo gets what he wanted and only one jillion beings had to be horribly rekilled to get it.|