When DC's Lobo returns in June, the title will have closer ties to the DCU, as well as a new tone and mood that writer Cullen Bunn describes as a "hardboiled cosmic crime story," with a darker, more villainous Lobo.
The current Lobo title launched in October after the character was the subject of some continuity-related controversy among internet fans because it starred the second version of Lobo since the 2011 reboot, and one that had a sleeker, more modern look. It was a thinly veiled decision to revamp a character that had been around since the '90s, and some fans cried foul.
When Bunn launched the new series with this brand new Lobo, he actually killed the previous Lobo in the first issue, after it was revealed he was an impostor. Yet it soon became obvious that this version of Lobo was just as violent and detached as his predecessor. And by introducing a new cast of characters to support Lobo, the book gave the new Lobo more connection to humanity.
Now, after the end of Lobo #6, most of that supporting cast has either been killed or left behind by Lobo, who ended the issue by launching into space for a new mission. The character just discovered that his destruction of Czarnia, his home planet, was motivated by something he didn't understand — but now he does. And he's out for blood. (And, like any good mercenary, money.)
So what comes next when the title returns in June after DC's two-month Convergence break? Newsarama talked to Bunn to find out.
Newsarama: Cullen, the last time we talked, it felt like you were defending this "new" Lobo's right to exist as a character. Now that you've gotten several issues under your belt, featuring this character in the lead, do you feel like he's established himself in the DCU?
Cullen Bunn: I don’t know that I’d say he’s established his place in the DC Universe just yet. There are still some steps to take. As we move forward, we’ll be establishing a different mood and tone for the character — something a little darker and sleeker and villainous.
That’s where I think Lobo will stake his claim at DC. There are no other characters that fill the role he’s taking on. To further cement his place in the DCU, we’ll see Lobo interacting with a few other established characters as we go forward.
Nrama: I'm not surprised there will be a change to the comic, because at the end of Lobo #6, you left the door wide open for a major change to the comic — the previous cast members are either dead or gone, and loner Lobo is heading away from Earth on a new mission. You said there will be a different tone — can you explain how it will be different?
Bunn: If you look at issues #5 and #6, you’ll see a much darker take on the character. Those issues are meaner and more violent, edging closer to a hardboiled story. That tone will remain as we move into the next arc.
One of the things I want to explore with Lobo is the duality of his character. On one side, he’s this sleek, sexy, so-cold-he’s-charming kind of guy. But then there’s this killer instinct of his that makes him brutal and cruel and violent. His lethalness and his viciousness would make anyone uncomfortable. These aspects of Lobo’s character are dangerous for very different reasons, and the next arc will be informed equally by both.
Starting with issue #7, Lobo is back in space, and he’ll be interacting with a wide range of characters— many of whom want him dead. Even though he’s in space now, Lobo will be more connected to the DC Universe than he was in the first six issues. He’ll be running into a few established heroes and villains. From this point forward, he becomes a big part of DC’s cosmic realm.
Nrama: Do you think the experience of working together with a team to save Earth has changed Lobo at all?
Bunn: I think Lobo’s experience working with that group on Earth might have changed him if his encounter with Pariah had played out differently.
I see a story where a heartless assassin might have developed a conscience.
But the secret Pariah shared with him rocked his world more than any burgeoning friendship might have. That makes that first arc all the more tragic, because if anything Lobo is on a darker path than before.
Nrama: At the end of issue #6, he even bids adieu to Emily — will we see ever see her again?
Bunn: It’s possible Emily might show up again, but it won’t be for a while. I like her and would love to see her show up in some capacity. For the next several issues, though, Lobo needs to live up to his “lone hunter” reputation. Besides, if Emily does appear again, she might have it in for Lobo.
Nrama: Let's talk about this news he learned from Pariah, which you said "rocked" his world. You established Lobo's origin story — and why he considers himself "the Lobo" — yet what he thought he knew about himself is in question. How does this affect the story you're picking up in June?
Bunn: As issue #6 came to a close, we saw that Lobo was planning on hunting down whatever mysterious figure had set Czarnia for destruction. In his mind, if someone had put a contract out on Czarnia, they owe him payment. He’s not above beating a payment out of someone if that’s what it takes. This is a long game, though, and Lobo will find that finding this mysterious figure isn’t going to be easy.
Along the way, Lobo is going to encounter a group called the Void Whisper who might be able to get him closer to his goal… but only if he agrees to pull a few jobs for them.
That gets Lobo doing what he does best — tracking down and eliminating targets. This time around, though, his targets are some real heavy hitters in the DC Universe.
Nrama: The Lobo series seems to have been flying under the radar a bit among DC's titles, with its sales on the low end compared to most other comics. Are you hoping the June issue will pick up some new readers? Anything in particular you're hoping will attract a few more eyes?
Bunn: All I can do is tell a good story and hope readers take a look. I think there are a lot of preconceptions that come along with this iteration of Lobo. But issue #7 is a great jumping-on point. It’s a tonal shift in the series.
The setting is different — the far frontiers of space. Lobo’s missions are new. And Lobo will be more involved in the DC Universe than he has been before. Some of the death contracts he is taking involve some very recognizable faces in the DC Universe.
Nrama: How would you describe what you've got planned next for the series?
Bunn: It’s a hardboiled cosmic crime story, part James Bond, part Leon: The Professional, part American Psycho, all taking place across an intergalactic backdrop. It’s going to be sexy, action-packed, mean, and violent. Lobo is a villain, through and through, and I’m going to make sure readers know that.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about Lobo?
Bunn: I’d tell readers to leave their presumptions at the door when it comes to this Lobo. He’s his own character, and I think there are some exciting stories in his future… and more than a few surprises.