Lobo is probably the most colorful character in the DCU and by colorful I’m referring to his swearing and violence. The character has always been a source of grim comedy, but also motorcycle gang style grungy attitude. Steve Orlando and Kelley Jones are teaming up to deliver an annual issue that reveals a secret Lobo has told no one, until now.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Lobo’s secret–revealed! Only Batman has known why Lobo is in the JLA–until now! The Main Man’s secret is laid bare when he recruits Black Canary alone for a mission into deep space to take on one of the nastiest bastiches the galaxy’s ever known. But will this be a one-way trip for Canary? Legendary artist Kelley Jones joins series writer Steve Orlando to find out in what promises to be one of the greatest Lobo epics ever told!
Why does this matter?
Kelley Jones is the primo artist of the macabre. If you want a deeply unsettling comic, one that delivers on gore and disturbing imagery, this is your man. Given Lobo’s darker tone he’s the perfect artist for this and delights with some rather impressive stuff here.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Talk, talk, talk…
Lobo’s big secret is a surprising one and it not only involves Batman, but cute animals too. This issue is a done in one tale that may seem completely erroneous, but actually has a purpose as far as giving Lobo enough reason to stick around and fight when Dark Nights: Metal wraps up. That means Batman does show up–more or less–in this issue, but largely it’s only got 3 characters total in it. Lobo, Black Canary, and a mysterious villain that has a huge grudge with Lobo.
The issue’s strongest moments are in flashbacks that reveal Lobo at a young age. He was swearing like a sailor even then, but readers get a chance to see something touch his cold heart. This leads to a major revelation of the terrible things he does and the mix of wholesome with awful (Lobo committed genocide after all) creates ample room for humor.
Kelley Jones does a great job with what he’s given. There are tons of panels of Lobo looking creepy, talking creepy, and grinning creepily. A bit of gore is thrown in a full page spread that’ll make you linger and there are some impressive space scenes too.
Batman is in this one!
It can’t be perfect can it?
Sadly the big joke of this didn’t work for me. Lobo is an awful person who is borderline evil so his love for the alien race he aims to save sounds funny on paper, but didn’t make me laugh once. It’s a joke we’ve seen done before, but doesn’t quite work partly because he’s telling us rather than the creators showing us the love. The comic is mostly talking heads, which makes it read at a snail’s pace. At one point when the action should be moving the creators chose to have Lobo and the villain talk things out as if to pad out the book. The resolution is so damn easy for the heroes you’ll be thinking about how they could have been done with the mission by page 4 rather than page 30.
Is It Good?
Justice League of America Annual #1 is a decent but not great comic as it drags its feet while delivering a minor joke that does not land.