Justice League of America Annual #1 – Steve Orlando, Writer; Kelley Jones, Artist; Michelle Madsen, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Not Thrilled But Lobo Fans Should Be
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!!
Ray: Steve Orlando turns his focus to Lobo and Black Canary in this surreal and darkly funny one-shot story, with the unmistakable Kelley Jones on art. Jones, best known for hauntingly dark Batman stories, is also an iconic Lobo artist (and recently drew the character again in the Lobo/Road Runner one-shot). Now, he takes on the story of Lobo’s secret mission, part of the deal he made with Batman. He’s going to go into space to hunt the most evil man in the galaxy – the man who wants to hurt his beloved space dolphins – and he wants Black Canary, the most ruthless member of the League besides him, to go with him. Most team-ups between heroes and anti-heroes/villains tend to be overtly hostile, but this issue contains dialogue that’s just the right mix of sarcastic and hilarious. Jones’ art, while extremely stylized as always, feels a bit more restrained than it usually is – at least for most of the issue, before a bizarre explosion of violence near the end.
After a bizarre tour of space and a few too many gross-out jokes, we get the source of Lobo’s obsession with dolphins, and they soon stumble upon the homeworld where they’re sucked into a trap that is soon revealed to be the doing of someone with ties to Lobo’s past – the only other living Czarnian. Despite the absurdity of the plot, this villain is actually genuinely hateable, and when Lobo tricks Black Canary into challenging him in a Czarnian ritual battle, you’re looking forward to seeing him get trashed – although this segment is where Jones really cuts loose and indulges his tastes for disturbing, grotesque visuals. A story about Lobo’s love for space dolphins could easily be absurd and pointless, but Orlando uses it to give the ultra-violent 90s icon a bit of nuance that makes this a very entertaining issue. It’s certainly not like anything else you’ll read this week.
Corrina: I wasn’t as thrilled as Ray. Perhaps chalk it up to my general disinterest in Lobo. He’s been used effectively for most of this series, someone in the background who tends to supply the muscle might and the cynicism, but once he becomes the main character, I tend to lose all interest in his schtick.
You would have thought Canary, one of my favorite characters, would make me love this story, but she’s played more shrill and less fun-loving than usual. Perhaps in proving to the reader that she’s not going to be fooled by Lobo, Orlando sucked some of the fun out of the character. This is the woman, after all, who teased Oracle about cyber-sex and made jokes at Batman decking Guy Gardner in one-punch. She’s played as very rule-bound in this story and, again, that may be because Lobo definitely needs a babysitter, but it doesn’t make for a great Black Canary story. I also think Jones’s art isn’t well-suited to her. He’s terrific at horror and Lobo’s exaggerated world but when applied to Canary, it made her seem off-kilter.
But if you are a Lobo fan, you’ll likely have a blast with this story.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.