REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED LOBO FIGURE
There's something about the DC Comics character of LOBO that seems to make Mattel reluctant to market him to the general public through traditional means. Okay, so, he's big. He's mean. He probably doesn't bathe regularly. He's an intergalactic bounty hunter that spends a lot of his time in various dives that would make the Mos Eisley Cantina look like a four-star gourmet restaurant. And he's nasty enough that he could make the Dreadnoks look like a ballet company -- despite some similarities in general characteristics. And the general consensus in the DC Universe is that if you find out that Lobo is on your trail, you might be lucky enough to have enough time to disgrace yourself before he catches up to you.
Okay, so maybe it's not all that hard to figure out why Mattel is a little reluctant to market any Lobo figures through traditional means. However, that hasn't stopped them from turning out a couple of figures of the DC Universe's self proclaimed Main Man! The first was part of the DC Universe Classics line, a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive back in 2008. The new one was offered exclusively on MattyCollector.Com, and is part of the Justice League Animated line.
Now, I have to give all the credit in the world to the continuation of the Justice League line. The animated series has been off the air for years, and yet there is no shortage of fans of Bruce Timm's distinctive style and design of characters. As far as that goes, the Justice League line, these days an exclusive to Target, has expanded into a wide range of characters that were never actually featured in the series. Fans and collectors just want to see what they would have looked like if they had been.
Lobo, interestingly enough, is not one of these. While Toys "R" Us and Target may not be ready for the Main Man, apparently Cartoon Network and the syndicated outlets that carried the Superman animated series were more prepared to put up with him.
Lobo first appeared in the DC Animated Universe in the Superman animated series, in an episode titled "The Main Man". In the episode, Lobo has been hired by an alien named the "Preserver" to capture Superman and add him to his collection of rare and endangered species. Lobo heads straight for Earth and starts firing his weapons in the middle of a police station until Superman arrives to confront him. The two battle all over downtown Metropolis. Unable to gain an advantage, Lobo leaves Earth to "take five". Superman follows Lobo into space, where Lobo lures Superman into a trap set by the Preserver.
Superman is captured and placed in a specialized cage, so that the Preserver might preserve Superman as the last remnant of the Kryptonian race. However, the Preserver then decides to add Lobo to his collection as well, since Lobo is also the last of his own race. Superman and Lobo eventually join forces to escape the Preserver and another group of bounty hunters, who had been pursuing Lobo to reclaim a prisoner. In return, Lobo promises to leave Earth alone.
Lobo briefly appears in another Superman episode in which Maxima falls in love with Superman. After Superman leaves, Lobo arrives in Maxima's throneroom to claim a particular bounty, and Maxima starts to get obsessed with Lobo. Never thought I'd feel sorry for the Main Man, but...!
Lobo turned up in the Justice League episode "Hereafter", in which Superman is believed to have died. Lobo wants to join the Justice League, insisting that only he could take Superman's place. Granted, Lobo's motivation seems based on ego and a desire to "bust heads" more than any actual desire to do good or help others.
In spite of his obvious violent tendencies, the League decides to allow Lobo to help them for a short time while they deal with a larger number of super-villains running amok in Metropolis in response to Superman's apparent death. Lobo battles and easily defeats the super-villain Kalibak, primarily by piling more and more cars on top of him until he says "Uncle."
Ultimately, Superman returns to the ranks of the League and tells Lobo that he's fired, stating that he is not considered Justice League material. Lobo boards his bike and says, "Next time you lollipops need help, don't bother asking the Main Man!" As Lobo departs, Martian Manhunter remarks, "We didn't ask you this time!"
Of course, Lobo's origins go well back beyond his animated appearances. Some online research reveals that Lobo was created in the 1980's by Roger Slifer and Keith Giffen, although his first appearance in Omega Men #3 is hardly recognizable. He languished until his re-invention as an over-the-top anti-hero cosmic biker in the early 1990's, becoming instantly popular.
Keith Giffen once said in an interview, "I have no idea why Lobo took off. 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."
So, who is Lobo? Lobo is a Czarnian, with exceptional strength and fortitude. He enjoys nothing better than mindless violence and intoxication. Killing is an end in itself. His name is Khundian for "he who devours your entrails and thoroughly enjoys it". He is arrogant and self-centered, focusing almost solely on his own pleasures, although he proudly lives up to his word in any mercenary or bounty hunter contract - but exactly his word: no more or no less than what he promised.
Lobo is the last of his kind, having committed complete genocide by killing all of the other Czarnians for fun. As detailed in the comics, Lobo unleashed a violent plague (a hybrid of flying scorpions) upon his homeworld, killing most of its citizens. In the Superman animated series, Lobo tells Superman the fate of his race. "I'm the last Czarnian. I fragged the rest of the planet for my high school science project. Gave myself an A."
Lobo's friends -- such as they are -- include Dawg, a bulldog that he often claims is not his when it gets into trouble; Jonas Glim, a fellow bounty hunter; and Ramona, a bailbondswoman and hairdresser. Dawg is stomped to death by Lobo at one point in which he claims to Superman for the final time that the dog is not his. However, Dawg has apparently returned, as he is once again accompanying Lobo in his most recent appearance (as of this writing), in which Lobo has turned up in the pages of Green Lantern to fight Lantern and Atrocitus.
Also, Lobo is surprisingly protective of space dolphins, some of which he feeds from his home. A few have been killed in separate incidents, which he avenges with his usual -- enthusiasm.
Lobo frequents the business of a man named Al, a diner operator, where he frequently flirts with Al's only waitress, Darlene. Though Lobo protects these two from any danger, which is frequent, he doesn't seem to understand the distress caused by his tendency to destroy the diner. Al and Darlene do manage to later prosper due to Lobo's appetite for destruction; he destroys the surrounding city, leaving hordes of construction workers with only one place to eat lunch.
Lobo has participated in a variety of money-making schemes, including being a priest and a pop-rock idol. Most of these schemes tend to end with the violent deaths of nearly everyone involved. He has many friends within the bounty hunter world (like anyone in their right mind would want this guy as an enemy!?), although these individuals tend to suffer unpleasant fates in Lobo's general proximity as well.
With regard to the heroes of Earth, he has clashed and cooperated with Superman, met Batman several times, and has both fought and teamed up with Guy Gardner more than once. He occasionally visits Gardner's bar, Warrior's, where he enjoys free drinks. He also once fought Aquaman, when a traveling space dolphin visiting Earth was killed by Japanese fishermen. He relents when he learns that Aquaman also loves dolphins; he feels he cannot hurt a fellow dolphin lover.
As to his powers and abilities, Lobo possesses extraordinary strength and durability of undefined limits, but quite probably nearly to the level of Superman. He can survive unprotected in deep space, and withstand powerful explosive blasts without sustaining injury.
If Lobo sustains any sort of injury, his accelerating healing factor enables him to regenerate damaged or destroyed tissue with superhuman speed and efficiency, and little apparent pain. Lobo is also functionally immortal. He is immune to the effects of aging and disease, due in large part to the fact that he has been banned from entering either Heaven or Hell.
Lobo possesses an amazingly developed sense of smell, which allows him to track objects between solar systems, as well as a separate tracking ability enabling him to track an individual across galactic distances.
Lobo is a formidable combatant with expertise in multiple forms of armed and unarmed combat. His favorite weapon is a large titanium alloy chain he keeps wrapped around his right wrist with a large gutting hook connected at the end, which he has fondly named "Mister Hooky."
He has proven on more than a few occasions that he's smarter than he looks and acts -- he'd almost have to be. He can create complex virulent agents and the necessary antidotes, such as the one he turned loose on Czarnia. On another occasion, he was able to scavenge parts from a destroyed time hopper and attach them to his own bike, turning it into a functional time machine.
So -- how's the figure? Well -- you know how a lot of the Justice League Unlimited figures over the years have used a fairly common "male hero" body, just with a different head, painted details, and maybe a few additional accessories if needed?
Lobo's not one of them -- which also may explain why he's been offered as a MattyCollector exclusive, admittedly at a higher price than the average JLU figure, as well.
Lobo is an entirely unique figure. Now, even in the more "realistic" DC Universe, Logo tends to be somewhat exaggerated in physique. He is distinctly larger and more musclebound than average. That has certainly been accentuated for the DC Animated Universe, resulting in a figure that is more cartoonish in appearance than usual. Of course, given Lobo's exaggerated mannerisms, it works.
The animated interpretation of Lobo shows an individual with a square-jawed head, an unkempt mane of black hair, a massive, wide chest, preposterously large arms that hang to his knees, and relatively average-sized legs with huge boots. Lobo is dressed in a black biker's jacket with the right sleeve torn off, a grey undershirt, blue trousers, and black boots. He is wearing a black spiked belt with a fanged skull for a buckle, and his boots have gray knee pads with stars on them.
As one would expect, this is an animated simplification of how Lobo looks in the comics, but certainly, it still looks like Lobo. I mean, it couldn't plausibly be anyone else.
Lobo's skin is white, essentially an extremely pale gray. He has black highlights around his eyes, which appear red and pupil-less. He has a thick black mustache, and a certain scruffy growth on his chin. The figure has done an excellent job of replicating this, as well as painting some stubble of hair on his right bared arm. The main body of the jacket is akin to a vest, a separately molded piece, although it is not removable. It's one of the more effective renditions of this practice, which has turned up in any number of action figure series, that I've seen. It's especially effective on the left arm, where the sleeve is still intact. To what degree it was made easier by having to only match one sleeve, I'm not sure.
The sculpted detail on the figure is excellent. I can't help but think that it can't be easy to take a character whose physiognomy is this exaggerated and turn him into an action figure, especially if you're used to working on figures that, even in the Animated Universe, have at least somewhat more plausible builds. Of particular note is the belt, probably the most complex single item on the figure, as well as the scruffy, wild hair. Painted detail is also extremely well done. The face carries the most amount of detail, but notice the detail on the boots, as well, both the knee pads with the imprinted stars, and the small metallic knobs closer to the ankles.
Interestingly, Lobo isn't really that much taller than the average JLU figure. The average Justice League Unlimited figure is about 4-3/4" in height. Lobo is about 5-1/4". It's the rest of his measurements that make him look so massive. The average male JLU figure has a chest that is 1.2" wide. Lobo's is 2". From shoulder to shoulder, the average male JLU figure measures 1.8". Lobo measures 3.5". A bicep on an average male JLU figure measures .4" from the side. Lobo's measures a full 1". Lobo's arms are nearly 3" long. The average male JLU figure's arms are 1.8". Lesson? Don't get into an arm-wrestling match with this guy.
Lobo is lacking any accessories, but perhaps "Mister Hooky" would've been a little much for the animated incarnation of this character, even if he was directed towards the collectors' marker. Frankly, according to the online research, Lobo didn't always use the hook when he appeared in Superman or Justice League, anyway. His preferred hand-held weapon was a crowbar. But he doesn't come with one of those, either. The DC Universe Classics Lobo definitely did come with the hook, just for comparison, attached to a real metal chain that was attached to Lobo's wrist.
The package should definitely be mentioned. I know this isn't something I discuss all that much in my reviews, but this time it's worth it for several reasons. For one thing, the package is far larger than the average JLU single figure card. In fact, it's the exact same size of a three-pack card. But hey, if Lobo wants some extra space,.Lobo gets some extra space...
One aspect of the back of the card is especially hysterical. Now, the typical back of an action figure card -- whether you're talking Justice League, DC Universe Classics, Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Masters of the Universe, Ben 10, Power Rangers or basically any action figure line in existence, will showcase other action figures in the same series, with some sort of blurb on the card that reads, "COLLECT THEM ALL!" -- or words to that effect. Certainly Justice League does this, in white letters on a black band that appears below a photographic line-up of current figures.
Well, now, is Lobo going to share the spotlight with anybody!? What do you think? The package -- tried, I'll give it that. There was an apparent attempt to show photos of a number of popular characters, including Shazam! (Captain Marvel), Superman, Batman, Captain Atom, and The Question. But before they could get around to adding that "Collect Them All!" phrase, here comes Lobo, busting through the back of the package, the photograph of his action figure tearing through the images of the others, and instead, the white letters on the black band read -- "YOU ONLY NEED THE MAIN MAN!"
As long as I've collected a vast range of action figures, I've never seen anything like that, and honestly, I thought it was one of the funniest things I've seen on a toy package in a long time. Definite credit to whomever at Mattel thought that one up.
Articulation? Okay -- nobody buys Justice League figures for the articulation. You buy them to add to your collection of cool animated-style DC Universe characters. Lobo has the expected range of articulation for a Justice League animated-style figure. He is poseable at the head, arms and legs -- which is still not too shabby, and still more than a statue. I've never quite understood the appeal of those.
So, what's my final word here? Lobo, as a character, is so over-the-top that it's hard not to be amused by him, as violent as he comes across as being. I was very pleased to add the DC Universe Classics figure to my collection a couple of years ago, and I'm certainly pleased to add the Justice League Unlimited figure of him to that collection now. The figure is well made, certainly unique, and unquestionably looks like the animated incarnation of the character. If you're a Lobo fan, a DC Comics fan, a Justice League Unlimited fan -- or all of the above, you'll certainly want to bring Lobo into your collection, as well.
The JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED figure of LOBO definitely has my highest recommendation!