P:R Roundtable: DC’s New 52 Lobo

Note: Late last week we got an unexpected surprise from DC Entertainment with the big reveal of a new design for Lobo. Although the character had already debuted in the “New 52″ before, this new design brings with it a revised origin that makes the original, more traditional, Lobo a imposter with this more lithe mercenary as the real deal. Since then there’s been some slight back-pedaling that makes us think this may not be his final form, but until we have the actual comic in our hands we’re going with this one. Click below the image to see what the assembled P:R Staff (and guest commentator Eric Esquivel) thinks about his Kenneth Rocafort design. – Chris A.

 

Dean: I feel like DC is legitimately just trolling us now. I mean US: Project: Rooftop. Look, I’m not a Lobo fan. I don’t care about the “sanctity of the Lobo concept,” as I do for those of Batman and Superman and their allies, but man, this just looks like a pile of nothing. There’s nothing unifying or even interesting (besides the vest…maybe?) in all these lines. It’s a generic video game character with no identity or cleverness at all. Nothing against the artist, who seems to have taken a few better swings at this, only for DC to settle on the one most clearly designed to put off old fans of the character and draw in…I don’t know, single, thirty-five-year-old video game players who don’t naturally like superhero comics? I could see the blue hair streaks or the vest being cool elements, if they weren’t being battled by a million incongruous elements scattered about Lobo’s newly emaciated form. It smacks of, like much of DC’s current aesthetic, “kinda trying to make the character look cool for the movies.” Honestly, I don’t really care, but the fact that THEY don’t care drives me insane.

Vito: I fall in the same camp. I’m not a Lobo fan by any stretch, so I don’t particularly care if the character appears, doesn’t appear, gets redesigned or not. And this, for my part, isn’t a slam on Ken Rocafort. But it just reads as, “design by committee.” I can’t imagine this was a happy or fun experience for Ken. All I see is, “Add a vest!” “More lines!” And if you look at some of the other designs (ok, two: http://www.dccomics.com/blog/2013/08/23/whats-new-in-the-new-52-lobos-new-look#1), it looks like they almost went with one that was more traditional.

The standard I hold all our contests to is simple; “Does this concept inspire a story within me.” No one is asking for my take on Lobo, but this guy here? In my eyes, this fella is a bit player, an extra. I’m left wondering when Lobo is gonna show up. It’s possible that in another artist’s hands, this design might come across as cool, but I actually like Ken Rocafort…I thought his Cyborg Superman design was pretty fab. Could this design warm me if drawn by, say, Keith Giffen? I have my doubts. I like the way the holsters hang on his pants, but that’s it. Everything else is just…there. One thing for sure; this character here could never go toe to toe with Superman. I’m reminded, however, that when Grant and Giffen reintroduced the character, he was meant to be a parody of the anti-hero/over the top body count trend, so…as you were.

Jon: I get depressed absolutely every time we’re invited to review a Nu52 design – and I mean clinically depressed, not just sad or bummed out but actually disassociated from the native capacity to have authentic emotional reactions to external stimuli. Chris sends the mail “We’re going to review the new Lobo” and my reaction is “Well, why even get out of bed?” I’d stop trying to escape from a burning car if someone told me a roundtable on the new Joker’s Daughter was waiting on the other side. “No thanks” I’d say, smoldering, “I’m fine, it’s cool.” My fatty midsection goes up like the firebombing of Dresden. “See you on the other side.”

And if there is a circle of Hell reserved for us Project:Rooftop reviewers, it’s just endless roundtables on Nu52 redesigns, and then every now and again one of our infernal tormentors comes along to stab us in the face with a barbed pitchfork, and we go “THANK you.” “About time” we say, “I really needed that!” before returning to a kneeless boot smashing a human face forever.

Look, the design isn’t very good – it doesn’t elucidate anything about the character, it’s a mishmosh of components, it’s unnecessary, it’s derivative of Japanese comic design rather than being inspired by it, it’s the cynical product of a corporation intent on scoring easy targets on a news cycle, it’s dull, it’s repetitive, it looks like any bog standard Liefeld or Lee character design from 1992 through 1995 which is, I guess, pretty much what the overall editorial directive has been for this company since 2011, so he doesn’t look all that different from anyone else, I guess? This could be H’el, this could be the new Trickster, w/evs, maybe it’s the new Joker’s Daughter and on that note I better get back to that burning car. Also he’s wearing a fur-lined vest which I dunno.

But on the grand scheme of things, a shitty Lobo redesign is the least of all possible problems with this company, right? Creators are the enemies, mostly they don’t allow girls to write or draw nuthin’, if someone didn’t cross a “t” in their contract then DCE is gonna make a novelty toaster out of their life’s work, they don’t wanna do a comic if they can’t make a movie out of it and they’re only redesigning characters to make new skins for the next video game from the Mortal Kombat guys. I can’t remember if it was Tucker Stone or Abhay Kholsa who described mainstream comics as “a broken septic tank on a good Wednesday”, and I can’t help but feel that picking nits on the Nu Lobo is just sifting through the soiled tissue and unidentifiable organic masses to critique a rogue sanitary napkin.

Speaking of reeking pits typically used to collect human filth, have you seen some of the comment threads in response to this design? The savvier homophobes have chosen to use the coded pejorative “metrosexual” to describe it, the less savvy have relied on good ol’ “shout it from a truck” verbal gay-bashing … AND YET part of me wonders if DC isn’t deliberately Goldust-ing Lobo in order to cultivate that reaction, you know? Recasting him as having ambiguously adopted a perceptible non-heteronormative archetype specifically to rile up the audience? The company thrives on their audience’s collective kicking and screaming, it just makes them stronger.

See, I genuinely love it when we get in submitted designs, because it’s inspiring to see someone so taken with an idea that they feel encouraged to put their stamp on it. I love the submissions to our contests, I love when we see mainstream character redesigns that come in from actual designers and which actually have something to do with their story arc or character. Those things delight me. On the other hand, these DC Nu52 designs, they bum me out, They’re not redesigns for the sake of anything except for generating buzz; DC just releases ‘em to get folks ticked off, to grab a headline on Newsarama or an op-ed on Comicsalliance, to get the message boards furious and here we are helping them out.

Here, the only thing I can say about this is that I hope Rocafort was trying to stack the deck against anyone using this design by making it so intentionally weak compared to the other two. You remember how, when Alan Davis was redesigning Captain Britain, he included his one great design and then three or four absolute eyesores because he reasoned that no sane editor would choose the awful designs versus the sleek, armor-and-bodysuit look they ended up with? Whatever else Jim Shooter’s reputation, he apparently was more sane than Bob Harras because those other two Lobo designs looked fine, just fine…

Eric:  Listen…isn’t the entire point of Lobo that he’s an avatar of everything that’s wrong with comics?  Keith Giffen, in a CBR interview in 2006 admitted “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.”

Lobo was conceived as a living pastiche of all of the worst aesthetic elements in superhero comics (Wolverine’s hair and omnipresent cigar, The Crow’s makeup, Spawn’s chains, Prime’s musculature) that DC could juxtapose with their classic icons, so that they look even classier in comparison.

He’s a walking Exxxtreme Nacho Cheese Doritos commercial, and the fact that everyone is going out of their way to defend his old design blows my whole entire mind.  The dude who created the guy didn’t even like him.

The self-proclaimed “Main Man” is supposed to be hard to look at.  Everything about him should make you cringe.  DC nailed it.

The only way this design could be any better is if they slapped an Ed Hardy trucker hat onto him.

Glen: THIS f’in guy. My story is the same as y’all’s: Lobo worked wonderfully for me as a parody of everything I hated about the comics of the 90s, but when he came to be embraced by the chromium-cover-hoarding hordes, I officially checked out. Of superhero comics. For like a decade.

Which is why this roundtable would be well-served if we could get a true fan of the original character to weigh in. Though perhaps its not worth the trouble to translate their critique from the original fingerpaint. Snap, etc.

But after all, mainstream superhero comics are reactive in nature — they dutifully reflect (or, less generously: they co-opt) (still less generously: they go full Locutus of the Borg on that noise) the more-popular popular culture around them. Those comics of the nineties I hated were, yes, taking the Moore/Miller grim n’gritty thing to its illogical XXXTRREEEEMMME, but they were also adopting the meathead aesthetic of the particularly steroidal action films of the day. Because those action films were wildly popular.

So it makes sense, now that video games occupy the space that SchwarzenRambo films once did in the minds and hearts and wallets of a generation, that mainstream superhero comics would start to look like Dragon’s Crown/Final Fantasy Online, etc….

… crossed, evidently, with a decidedly backwards-looking Marilyn Manson. Finger on the pulse, there, DC. The fuzzy-bunny, Bane-from-DKR vest doesn’t add much of anything, but the net effect of the look — turning an intergalactic Son of Anarchy into an effete True Blood extra — is at least a turn-up for the books.

That said: Do I like Nu-Look Lobo? Would I like black jellybeans any more if you dyed them red? No. Because they would still be black licorice — foul and noisome nuggets of concentrated despair which Men do name abomination.

28 comments on “P:R Roundtable: DC’s New 52 Lobo
  1. This guy ain’t no main man!!! Lobo needs more over the top elements, larger upper body, more hair, more face paint, more, more, more!!!! This guy looks like a vegan (no offense but you need meat to grow muscles) and is begging for a beat down from Batman, no make that Superfriends’ Aquaman.

  2. Gentlemen, allow me to express my gratitude with the following video of Charles Foster Kane applauding for 10 minutes.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IpPPDYWexE

    Each of you hit the nail on the head. This DC New 52 (now there’s a redundant title if I ever heard one) of Lobo reeks of “design by committee” in order to get any kind of attention from the comic book community. Lobo was meant to be a parody of everything wrong with the 90s. I never got into his comics (was never big on the 90s trend of grim and gritty) but I enjoyed his animated version in the Superman animated series and in the Justice League. He was the direct opposite of Superman when he first popped up; heartless, ultra-violent, crude, and motivated by money.

    But this new design is so bland, he’d fit more as a background character than an actual character. In fact, the whole DC New 52 (dear lord, I feel like throwing up every time I write or say that name) is basically the worst aspects of 90s cracked up to 11. DC Comics, to me at least, is on life support and the only way to save it is to cut out the cancer that is slowly killing it. I fear that the only way DC will get back on track is if the entire company goes bankrupt. Until then, I can only pray that this nightmare ends soon.

    And, with Glen’s mention of DC not being able to find the pulse to their own fanbase, allow me to end this with the follow NSFW clip from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eknfelhN31E

  3. Speaking purely as a fan, the only way this no-character character design could work would be with some brilliantly snarky dialogue, like, he isn’t just prettier than the big bruiser who stole his name, but he’s wittier as well. Add some Nightwing-like acrobatic buttkicking and you could have a true battle of the brands. After all, the big bruiser did get the job done in his way.

  4. I don’t like judging a redesign so negatively, but the New 52 Lobo looks too much like a new character out of Final Fantasy rather than an over-the-top biker and antihero. If any video game character should be the basis for a Lobo reboot, it should be Wario. ;)

    I guess I’d like to read why Lobo’s appearance was changed so much.

  5. I was one of the individuals who described this version as “metrosexual”. After I typed it I fully expected to be called out as a homophobe. On the site I typed it on, I was not but it is no surprise to be called a “savvy” one here. I would like to believe I am not a homophobe and will explain my use of the term and it can be for others to judge.

    I did like this character in my late teens when Grant and Giffen were cranking out stories about him with Bisley art. I saw him as the extremely ridiculous embodiment of everything I thought it would be cool to be as a picked on 12 year old kid taken to its inevitable and sad conclusion. He was heavily muscled, hard drinking, hairy (a cool aspect when you’re twelve and want a beard), could beat anybody in a fight and was feared by all but the ladies (well sometimes). Plus he listened to heavy metal and just didn’t care what anyone thought.That said, in the best stories, he is also shown to be not terribly bright, unlikable and an all around misogynistic a-hole. The best were loud stupid comics written with some clever humor.

    NuLobo has dyed and gelled, perfectly trimmed hair as opposed to the shaggy mess of old Lobo. NuLobo looks like he keeps trim with a balance of a good grapefruit diet and pilates and, because I can’t erase hairy old Lobo from my mind, I imagine waxes that unsightly hair away. To me that does not make him inherently gay. When you work in the art field you learn that there is no one look for a gay man and they can look just as unkempt as a straight guy if you couldn’t piece that one together yourself already. It just makes Nu Lobo looks more like someone who is very conscious of how he looks and would lose most of his bounty hunting time to his mirror time. The extreme opposite of everything he was to me before. It will not crush me regardless, I have not bought a Lobo comic in years because even in the early ’90s the stories got to be pretty repetitve at best.

    However, there is something about that time and character that spoke to me and I felt that the redesign was way off the mark to comment about it… twice. Hopefully that does not make me a homophobe but I’ll keep it in mind the next time I throw the term out there.

  6. A pale alien version of Arsenal?
    I’m not interested. Give the guy an appearance/style that matters. Heck, even retro beefy Lobo looks sexy now compared with this guy.

  7. Mr. Q: And, with Glen’s mention of DC not being able to find the pulse to their own fanbase, …

    I think Glen was actually saying (in a backhanded-compliment kind of way) that DC does have their finger on the pulse of the mainstream. He mentioned that the Grant/Bisley Lobo redesign was a caricature of the action movies that pervaded the era of the character’s rise in popularity. Now that video game CGI has supplanted the muscle builds of that previous era, Glen points out that this new Lobo design highlights everything that’s awful about modern day styles (presumably in keeping with the caricature theme).

    Just as the predecessor embodied the worst of ’90s excesses, so too does this successor take on the mantle of today’s worst trends. Giffen/Slifer never conceived the character to be awesome cool, so the fact that this redesign isn’t awesome cool is, perhaps, closer to the spirit of the original than the Grant/Bisley revamp, hah! I think where this one fails is that the Grant/Bisley retcon at least had a knowing wink about its own ridiculousness (it’s a biker dude with KISS makeup, a skull-shaped codpiece, and exaggerated musculature), whereas this new one seems to just accept mediocrity, with no particular point of view to go with it.

    Anyway, I’ve never been into Lobo as a product, so I didn’t care about him then, nor do I care about him now. I’m apathetic to this redesign, though I’m curious if this will affect the other Lobo’s membership in Stormwatch (is there room for two Lobos in the Nu52?). I guess I just can’t bring myself to be upset by something that means nothing to me.

    Oh, also, when the designs were first released, I actually thought all four images were age-progressions of the character: his teens, his twenties, his thirties, and his current state. They should have this Nu52 version wear the Giffen/Slifer original costume at some point. That might make the current iteration more acceptable by contrast, haha!

  8. I was reading the responses earlier today while at work, and while I agree that this particular design does nothing to capture the essence of the character we’ve come to know and (hopefully?) enjoy, I did notice it does one thing well. Instead of merely updating the look of the character for newer readers, this new Lobo can be seen as possibly a parody of current character redesign. I’m far from being an expert or pro, but this design does seem to have a ton of things in it that I see most of the people on this site (myself included) sort of dislike or despise. Instead of being overly-pouched, overly-muscled, and overly-armed, this person is overly-bland. He’s the representation of the well-illustrated character that will always recede into the background. Perhaps it’s an update of the parody that Lobo is known for, and not necessarily an update of the character.

    However, when I do see this, I immediately jump to: Mass Effect minor character/alien Nightwing.

  9. No, I don’t like it. You can’t take a well know character and completely redesign to make him look like this. If he was a new character, no one will care, but it’s not, he’s a popular character whit a lot of fans.

  10. I suggest this is a ruse/marketing gimmick. This design was allowed to be published merely for the drumming up of interest in the series. I fully suspect this character to have the walls painted with his head by the end of issue 1 to be replaced with the “true” Lobo. You wait, DC just cannot be this wide of the mark and disconnected with it audience.

  11. I think it would be giving DC too much credit if we were to ever actually believe that they updated the character to be satirical of everything bad about modern comics. Considering the decisions they’ve made in redesigning their flagship characters for the Nu 52, this seems more like a legitimate attempt to make Lobo badass again. The people in charge are just a little too obsessed with the xtreme comics of the 90′s to be that self-aware.

  12. While I agree that the design is a little flat and lame, I really hated how each one of your reviews began with something along the lines of, “I’m not a Lobo fan” or “The whole point of the character is to be stupid.” I love Lobo–I love how ultraviolent, booze-addled, and completely devoid of seriousness the character is. As a fan of heavy metal, horror, and dark humor, I always thought of Lobo as similar to Beetlejuice–a loud-mouthed psychotic nutcase who offsets the humorless gravitas that so much of the genre takes part in.

    That’s what I think DC is doing wrong here–by turning Lobo into some ninja warrior out of Tron, they’re relying too much on seriouness. Sure, Lobo’s deadly serious, in the same way Lemmy from Motorhead is: he’s all spikes and skulls and Jack Daniels and leering at boobs until it’s time to kick some ass, and then he’s the Main Man. By making Lobo a “ruthless killer,” you forget that Lobo’s supposed to be fun as Hell.

  13. I’m sick of the Tron light design in everything. Why do his shoes glow? It’s just tacky. It looks more like a fashion show interpretation of alien bounty hunter garb. Very generic, imitation of a popular video game design.

  14. I think the folks here claiming that this Lobo is a parody of everything wrong with modern comics are giving DC too much credit. Granted, I love the idea, because it would be an appropriate way to update a character like Lobo. Making him a preening fop, more interested in his streaks than collecting bounties and the chaos is causes would be fun, but that’s still not this guy. I…I just feel sad when I see this

  15. Huh.

    Guy feels like the opposite of Death’s Head there.

    Death’s Head started as a generic bounty hunter, only his design was so distinctive he got promoted to a more major role, and eventually got his own series.

    This Lobo design is supposed to be the lead, and he looks like a background extra. Don’t love the other three designs, but at least they look like speaking roles.

    Heck, don’t like old Lobo at all, but at least he looks like would get a couple panels to pick a fight with the villain of the issue to establish he’s tough. New Lobo isn’t even a good extra.

  16. Maybe Project: Rooftop could do a “Main Man: Redux” project?

    I am/was a fan of the old Lobo. Mainly because he was so over the top rotten. I loved the Lobe Christmas book where he took on an evil Santa Claus. The over the top violence, kitsch and pure unbelievableness of the whole thing struck a chord with my internal absurd nerd sense of humor.
    You can say this design does EVERYTHING the original was intended to do, be the ANTI everything cool and popular, a statement about why that cool and popular sucks ass. But where that was the INTENT of the original, it was not the RESULT of the original. This guy looks like Lobo’s kid sidekick.

  17. Ren Malone and samtict get it. Thanks to the PR crew for enlightening me on the character (I started really reading in the 90s as a kid so I guess I never caught the satirical nature of Lobo, though I will say his retconned origin is quite good, IMO, with the twist on supes, and actually lends a well of depth to the character when juxtaposed to everything you all highlighted about him.). This is actually quite a brilliant redesign, then, on DC’s part; genius, really. It’s the best, most accurate and close to the spirit of the character redesign they’ve done so far, and perhaps ever. If only they knew. I wish I could give them credit for it, but nothing about the last decade of DC gives me any reason to believe they are very self-aware at all. The indictment turns out to be a mirror, but they’re blind now and forgot what they were holding in the first place. I’ll take some joy in the justice of it all, and in the huge win they tallied here, no matter who does or doesn’t get it. God bless DC for all the joy they’ve provided me with over the course of my life. I do hope the ship is righted and appreciate the good work they have produced, even recently, despite my comments.

  18. Interestingly, while everyone is talking about what lobo looked like in his most popular incarnation, i never see anyone pointing out how this slim assassin un-lobo ish design is pretty much an update of his first appearances design ( http://comicbookmovie.com/images/users/uploads/27306/LOBO_first_appearance_052211.jpg) which he had for at least enough time to have left an impression on my adolescent 90′s mind when i was wandering through and issue of L.E.G.I.O.N. Purple and orange lobo, never forget.

  19. “only for DC to settle on the one most clearly designed to put off old fans of the character and draw in…I don’t know, single, thirty-five-year-old video game players who don’t naturally like superhero comics”

    That pretty much perfectly describes me, and I do actually like this design.

    It’s still not going to get me to buy a comic book, though.

  20. i feel like with commentors calling the design “emaciated” (which its not, he may not look like a mr universe contestant but do you know what the word emaciated means?) and “effete,” i feel like youre trying to say “this character looks gay” or at the very least, “he looks like a pansy.” cmon, theres plenty else to make fun of about this guy. doesnt look physically capable of kicking enough superhero ass? surely there are better ways to say so.

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