30 Things I Like About Comics—#14 Lobo

If VH1’s series I Love The 1990s had a comic book edition, you would have to devote a whole episode to Lobo, the intergalactic bounty hunter extraordinaire. But before he was the cigar chomping fragmaster, he was actualy quite boring.

Lobo first debuted in Roger Slifer and Keith Giffen’s Omega Men #3 as just your average bountyhunter alien type way back in 1983. He sporadically appeared for a while until Giffen brought back a revamped Lobo in Justice League International.

Thanks to stuff like Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen being both critically and commercially succesful, there was a rush to make super heroes more dark and gritty throughout the late 1980s/early 1990s. For that time period, Wolverine and the Punisher were the poster children of that type of hero. There were countless knock offs of the brooding and violent hero, and the new Lobo would become an over-the-top parody.

 “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.”

Keith Giffen in a Newsarama biography

The new Lobo was still a bounty hunter, but he was super foul-mouthed and violent to the point of absurdity. He’s the last of his race the Czarnians–he killed them all in a science fair experiment gone horribly wrong. Lobo was ridiculous; everything he did was exaggerated. Lobo mania gripped the comic book world in the 1990s, as he went on to have several series and miniseries, mostly written by Giffen and Alan Grant, with art by Simon Bisley.

Here are some of the highlights of his appearances in comics:

Lobocop– just what you would expect, a Robocop Parody.

Paramilitary Christmas Special– the Easter bunny has hired Lobo to take out Santa Claus once and for all.

Infanticide– His bastard daughter puts together an army to kill him.

Lobo’s Back– After being killed, neither Heaven nor Hell want him in their respective realms, reincarnating him in different forms. Eventually he is granted immortality if he never comes back again.

Unamerican Gladiators– Lobo participates in an uber-deadly game show.

All of the Lobo books are violent, dark comedies akin to a more slapstic Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez. If you enjoyed Machete, these are comics for you. Up until last year, director Guy Ritchie was attached to bringing the “Main Man” to the big screen. But there is much more to Lobo than just being a bad-ass hitman.

Past the surface, Lobo does have some complex character traits. Most obvious is his love of animals, like his pet dog Dawg and the herds of Space Dolphins he protects. When he found out that Aquaman was friendly to dolphins, that was enough reason for him to want to be friends.Yes, Lobo is a big burly tough guy who loves animals.

He also has so many great nicknames and expressions, many that I have adapted into everyday use, including:

  • Frag (verb): to mess something up. See also fragging, fragged, frag! fraggin
  • Feetal Gizz (noun): ????; sometimes used an interjection.
  • Bastich (noun): a portmanteu of bastard and bitch.
  • The Main Man (noun): Lobo’s declaration of his universal superiority.
  • The ‘Bo (noun): short for Lobo
  • Master Frag (noun): Lobo’s declaration of him being the master of frag.
  • Mister Machete (noun): Lobo’s declaration of his penchance for using knives.
  • Scourge o’ the Cosmos (noun): Lobo’s declaration of him being the universe’s most hated person.
  • The Ultimate Bastich (noun): Lobo’s declaration of him being the universe’s biggest bastard and/or bitch.

Lobo also has a strong love/hate relationship with Superman. Obviously, Superman detest Lobo for being so violent. Lobo thinks that Supes is a wimp. But somehow, they can coexist from time to time and its always an epic story. In the Superman and Justice League cartoons, they really explored this, culminating in an episode with Lobo taking an injured (and assumed dead) Superman’s spot in the Justice League, as he felt he was the only one as physically strong and gifted as Supes.

That’s Lobo, ladies and gentlemen. If you like dark comedy and absurd cartoonish violence, this is your book.