Review: Lobo Vol. 2: Beware His Might trade paperback (DC Comics)

There’s undoubtedly a hard crime alien bounty hunter book out there worthy of being written in the style of Breaking Bad and its ilk. Cullen Bunn’s Lobo Vol. 2: Beware His Might is far from it, over the top and aimless as it is, but in doing this wrong way sees the potential for it done right. By and large Bunn’s Lobo isn’t bad, give or take a questionable narrative choice here and there, but this is a collection of just three issues and an annual for which the book only finds solid footing at the very end in the annual. That reflects a book struggling to find its way, if not specifically just biding its time, and its no surprise the collections actually end here, with the other issues collected with Bunn’s Sinestro book. Probably nine issues was even too long for Bunn to have waited to have hooked this book to a larger franchise.

[Review contains spoilers]

The most interesting part of Bunn’s mostly middling first volume was the question of who, if not Lobo himself, destroyed Lobo’s home planet of Czarnia. Beware His Might seems to start on that note, but is quickly distracted by Lobo being recruited by one boilerplate criminal organization to go hunt another boilerplate criminal organization. This comprises the three regular issues collected here; Lobo goes one place, a fight ensues; he goes somewhere else, a fight ensues, etc. That Lobo pretty well decimates a couple of enemies and they return whole and hearty an issue later is about par for the course; these proceedings don’t seem especially important nor carry much consequence.

[See the latest DC trade solicitations.]

This includes a sequence where Lobo is kidnapped and sexually assaulted by the mind-controlling enemy of his bosses, in an issue written by Bunn and Frank Barbiere. The sequence goes mostly unremarked upon after the fact; being comics, surely Bunn could be planning to address the events later on, but it doesn’t seem so. Bunn similarly had Aquaman in a problematic sexual situation in Aquaman Vol. 7: Exiled, published about the same time and also left unresolved. Taken together the sequences raise the question of whether Bunn recognizes the gravity of what he deals with when he makes these aspects part of his story.

It’s a relief therefore when the story takes what feels like actual concrete direction, as Lobo is sent after Sinestro. The art gets a sizable boost with Robson Rocha, too. Lobo is relegated to a guest star in his own book essentially, but Rocha draws a number of alien weirdos well (the deranged, multi-armed alien prison-keeper, especially), and Bunn seems more interested; Sinestro supporting character Umaraal gets a two-page scene, for instance, quite aside from Lobo’s proceedings. That perhaps bad for Lobo proper, but it’s a sign of Lobo becoming essentially a second Sinestro book, which is a far better use for it than just flitting from action sequence to action sequence.

The end of the book finds that Lobo’s contract against Sinestro was sponsored by Sinestro himself, and that Sinestro means to hire Lobo to be his corps' assassin. That’s a fine premise, and I might’ve wished we’d just started here. Looking ahead, it seems Lobo will run afoul of a variety of the different Lantern corps, anchoring this book squarely in the cosmic DC universe. That’s a far greater recipe for success than Bunn’s Lobo Vol. 1: Targets, which – aside from a Superman appearance – saw Lobo teamed with a trio of forgettable characters against a cadre of no-name aliens; the book cries out for relevance, but surely receives it too late.

As I’ve mentioned before, I had no qualms about the refined “DC You” version of Lobo, and Cullen Bunn writing him as a capable, sensible anti-hero has been among the most attractive parts of Lobo Vol. 2: Beware His Might. But if nothing else, how easily this version of the character has been swept under the rug by the most recognizable iteration who stole the show in Steve Orlando’s Justice League of America demonstrates that enough wasn’t done to help the character make his mark here. I do applaud Bunn for tying this title to a greater force when the writing was on the wall, and also DC for putting the remaining Lobo issues in Sinestro rather than leaving them uncollected.

[Includes original and variant covers, Robson Rocha pencils]


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