Lobo’s back. That was the name of one of the best mini-series starring DC Comics’ main man, the extraterrestrial assassin with a fondness for space dolphins. His ubiquitousness in the Nineties, and creators forgetting he was meant to be a joke, led readers to tire of him, and his popularity faded. In the last decade DC gave Lobo a makeover as a Twilight-style knave, but that version didn’t set the world on fire and he was eventually disowned by DC. Since then, the original has put in odd appearances, but he’s lacked the showcase for his OTT personality.
With this issue of Teen Titans, we can finally say that, yes, Lobo’s back in all his glory. Foul-mouthed, as likely to kill you as look at you and tough as hell, the last Czarnian – he murdered the others – shows up to take down the tyro team… in particular, his daughter.
Before we see their first encounter, writer Adam Glass and artist Bernard Chang show us Lobo’s previous bounty hunting mission, which involved a spot of shopping.
Afterwards, a voice that identified itself only as the Other hired Lobo to take out the Teen Titans. And so to the present.
While he loves his ‘fishies’, fatherly feeling simply isn’t in Lobo’s DNA.
Lobo isn’t your everyday supervillain, he’s a force of nature, which means that after a few issues heavy on internal angst – the whole team now knows Robin and Red Arrow have been illegally imprisoning supervillains – the young heroes must put their disagreements aside if they’re to survive.
I’ve praised this run of Teen Titans previously, and this issue is a great example of the quality I’ve come to expect. Glass structures his script for maximum drama, with the opening scene showing us just how deadly Lobo is. Yes, the kids have spent issues facing Earth’s number one assassin Deathstroke, but Slade Wilson is a complicated killer – he’ll engage with you, affording you a chance to beat him; Lobo just wants to put you down, and quickly. For once, Damian Wayne’s cockiness deserts him.
Chang really sells the danger of being around Lobo, his dynamic, in-your-face compositions speaking to the sheer power of the mercenary maniac. Likewise, he shows that the Teen Titans are no pushovers. Giving Chang’s pages extra visual sass is colourist Marcelo Maiolo, whose notes of neon transform great illustrations into something akin to Pop Art. Bright tones explode amid a predominately natural palate, exciting the eye. Letterer Rob Leigh grabs the occasional opportunity to go big on the fonts front, further adding to the book’s visual appeal.
Topping off the issue – edited as ever by Alex Antone and Andrea Shea – is Chang and Maiolo’s dramatic cover, with Crush, and the story sell, in the shadow of her absent father – it would be too much to say the page is a Saul Bass homage, but I do get a vibe. If that’s just me, well, bonus!
This is the 12th issue since Adam Glass and Bernard Chang took the reins of the Teen Titans and DC really should be making more of a splash about a comic that’s set solidly in the DCU but has a style entirely its own. Try it, love it.