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Editorial Mandate: Enough with the Lobo Outrage

Written by Christian on Wednesday, August 28 2013 and posted in Columns

Editorial Mandate: Enough with the Lobo Outrage

Hell just got a bit colder, folks. We're sticking up for DC.

Last Friday, DC released a rather cringeworthy piece of concept art related to the upcoming Justice League of America #23.2: Lobo one shot, written by Marguerite Bennett with pencils by Ben Oliver.   How cringeworthy was it?  Well, Bennett took to Twitter (and briefly her tumblr) to explain that the concept art wasn't really representative of her and Oliver's book, and that Lobo would retain at least a good deal of his ugliness and musculature.  

So, we all had a few laughs about the latest PR snafu and moved on with our lives, right? Nope. Fanboys have gone berserk about Bennett's designs, along with her comments that she's going to add some gravity to the character.   Over on /r/comicbooks at Reddit, the subject has been towards the top of the page for the last five days, with various threads receiving hundreds of comments.  Some fans have even gone as far as to send Bennett hate mail of a sexual nature.   

I'm probably the last person that should be commenting on reactionary outrage over middling stuff, but am I the only person to find this whole thing...ridiculous?  All DC did wrong here is release four images of questionable relevancy to the comic.  In the grand scheme of DC screw-ups, that's nothing.  Yet, most major news sites are running multiple articles about the debacle, and some are even managing to imply that the creative team is feuding with DC over the concept art.  And that's not to mention the fan reaction.  Are we really resorting to death threats and calls for people's heads over Lobo?  And even worse, a Lobo comic that no one's even read yet?

I look at Lobo the way a lot of people probably look at the Outhouse: a parody that's not very funny most of the time.  I can't remember the last time a comic featuring Lobo actually made me laugh.  Comedy is hard stuff, and it often falls flat in comic books.  Look at the number of good Deadpool comics to mediocre Deadpool comics.  

Sure, Lobo was a fantastic over the top parody of the 90s, but the character's been a lot more toned down in recent years.  For instance, his appearances in 52, Green Lantern and R.E.B.E.L.S. are far cries from the bombastic 90's solo series.  His post New 52 appearances have been even less stellar.  Lobo first popped up in Rob Liefeld's Deathstroke as a slaver who isn't even the last of his race.  He's also appeared in Stormwatch, again as a bland shadow of his glory days.  Neither of those series have drawn the same ire this one-shot has, and people have actually gotten to read those. 

So, if Bennett wants to pull the character out of the mediocre pit it's been dwelling in for the last few years and try something different, I'm all for it.  After all, that's what Keith Giffen and Alan Grant did when they turned Lobo from a supporting cast member in Omega Men to the Main Man everyone now claims to love (but judging from the sales of Deathstroke, R.E.B.E.L.S and Stormwatch, no one wants to read about).  

What really galls me is how the creative team, especially Bennett, has been treated during this whole affair.   I can't throw too many stones about knee-jerk overreactions, but at least the Outhouse tends to pass out pitchforks when comics touch more controversial subjects, like gender issues, needless gore, or treating its creators like crap.  Sure, we go overboard occasionally when it comes to DC, but even we know when to let the outrage die.  It's not like DC has spoiled the ending of this comic for us to pass judgment on (and they have a tendency of doing that). Are fans really so obtuse that they don't think there will be some sort of twist in a comic book?

And the comics media hasn't been pristeen about the debacle either.  While we had the courtesy to not run a brief blog post by Bennett after she removed it to not give off an air of unprofessionalism or that she was feuding with DC, that didn't stop several other "more legitimate" blogs (read: not Bleeding Cool) from running the post, all the while ignoring Bennett's later comments on Twitter.  In their haste to capitalize on the juicy DC outrage gravy train, did they realize what a bunch of jackholes they were being to the creative team, who only stands to suffer from the exploitation of a hastily removed comment? 

If you want to take potshots at DC about Justice League #23.2, focus on their inability to print enough 3D covers to meet demand, the horrific concept art that doesn't line up with the interior or cover art or how they've bungled the PR related to the mess.  But don't take swings at the writer for an unpublished plotline.  And doubly don't be a sick fuck about it because the writer's a woman.  

It's crap like this that takes all the fun of being a snarky fan.  Hell, it's crap like this that caused the Outhouse to start our brand of deliberately sensational, snarky news articles, because this crappy fanboy culture is just as much of a problem as the industry we're all fans of.  



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