Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 11.04.2009 – Lobo: Highway to Hell #1

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Avg Rating: 4.0
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 0.2%
 
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Size: pages
Price: 6.99

One of the trends of the past 10 years in comics has been the movement from celebrating the artists in the comic book industry to heralding the writers.  The 1990s comics stars were the artists, but the 2000s has definitely belonged to the writers.  Sure, together both groups become storytellers and that's what makes comic so much fun to read.  But every now and then, I think it's important enough to celebrate the gifted artists amongst us, and with that, this week I was reminded why Sam Kieth is one of my favorite artists, probably of all time.



Lobo: Highway to Hell #1 is, if anything, one of those vanity projects that crop up from time to time at either DC Comics or Marvel Comics.  Both companies get an opportunity to do a one-off project, usually driven by a guest creator, that exists on it's own, completely out of continuity.  Apparently, I'm a bit of a sucker for these sort of projects.  In this case with Lobo: Highway to Hell, I'll be honest that the writer of this book definitely caught my attention.  I grew up in the 80s and 90s, so of course I listened to Anthrax, so the idea of Scott Ian (the guitarist and main driving force behind Anthrax) writing a comic book was enough to get my attention.  But my attention was probably all it would have gotten, until I saw that Sam Kieth was the artist on the project.  Now that would be a must have.



What makes a book by Sam Kieth a must have?  In case you didn't listen to my interview with him a few months back, Sam Kieth is probably one of the most unique and interesting comic creators of our generation.  I first noticed him during his Wolverine years in the early 1990s and then fell in love with his creator owned work on The Maxx, Zero Girl and Four Women throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.  For the better part of the last decade he's focused on his own work, often working with other artists on projects like My Inner Bimbo.  But every few years, Kieth will come back to mainstream comics for a project like this.



If there was ever a doubt about Kieth's artwork as he's gotten older, then all one needs to do is hold this issue up and defy someone not to be impressed.  Kieth is clearly on top of his game in every aspect of his art, from the layouts, to figures to story telling.  Now I know art is subjective, and it's very likely that Kieth's artwork doesn't resonate well with everyone.  Much like modern art, Kieth's art challenges you and makes you question what is art and what comprises good art.  That said, there are several two page spreads in this issue that I could easily hold up to anyone with confidence that they'd have to admit that it's really quite good.  Kieth is combining his style of cartooning along with paint and inks in a way that is so engaging to look at.  This evening, as I read my comics, I must have spent at least 5 minutes on each page of this book just soaking in the imagery and the process used by Kieth.  On one page you can see the brush strokes that make the wide and rough panel border, while on another page Kieth utilizes his simple hyper-real cartooning to execute a visual gag with such precision that it quite literally blows my mind.



Scott Ian has provided a run of the mill Lobo story here that's fun and amusing, as any good Lobo story should be.  Lobo is chilling in his apartment watching Lost, when a dolphin busts through his window, stabbed with a note from Satan calling for Lobo to call him. And so the adventure is on, as Lobo tries to navigate his way into Hell to meet up with Satan.  The story and the details don't really matter as they're simply just a means to an end, in giving something for Lobo to do and giving us an excuse to hear him say "Bastiches," get drunk and fight people, and continue repetitive jokes that at one moment make you roll your eyes and the next moment, laugh out loud.  I have no idea how much comic writing Scott Ian has done in the past, but he seems to have it down here.  His characterization of Lobo is in line with what I know of the character (mind you, I'm not a big Lobo fan) and the story, while zany and outrageous, makes sense and moves at a pace that kept me interested.  But most of all, Scott Ian has created insane situations and settings for Sam Kieth to just go nuts with.  Some of the imagery of this issue has to be seen to be believed, from the cruise ship going down the River Styx to view of Downtown Hell. Every scene and every page turn unveils a new level of artistic insanity and pure fun in visual playfulness in that way that only Sam Kieth can provide.  



In addition to the amazing art of Sam Kieth, Lee Loughridge (who seems to be on a coloring tear of recent on some great books) enhances Kieth's art in a way that so natural and dynamic that it runs the risk of going unnoticed.  The colors just work so fluidly with Kieth's art that it all makes sense.  Rich reds, deep blacks and amazing shading helps to keep the flow of the book slide by effortlessly.



Lobo: Highway to Hell #1 may not be in continuity or an event book, and sure it cost $6.99 (but it's 64 pages long, so you get a lot for your 7 bucks), but it's an important book.  If anything it's a canvas where hopefully a new generation can see and experience one of the most compelling and talented artists that the comic book industry has to offer, and I for one, have no problem celebrating that.



Ron Richards

Ok, the Gene Simmons joke made me laugh out loud

ron@ifanboy.com

 

Comments

  1. I love the unpredictability of a Ron pick.

  2. GD. Time to eat some crow, will run through it when I go to the store.

  3. 7 dollars F that shit!!!

     Matthew

  4. @mguy77: It’s 64 pages.

  5. I love Sam Kieth, The Maxx is one of my favorite books, and I know it’s 64 pages…but the 7 dollar price tag is keeping me away. Well, that and it’s Lobo+Scott Ian.

  6. @conor Amazing Spider-Man #600 was 100 pages and $4.99. To compare it to another PF, LOEG: Century 1910 is 80 pages and $7.95 and that is definitely worth it.

  7. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that this is the first time a Lobo books has been pick of the week.  Very interesting pick, Ron.  I look forward to hearing some Lobo/Sam Keith history on the podcast this weekend.

  8. This is the fun of a Ron pick. Yeah, you have to wait a little longer because of the time difference, but when it goes up, I usually go "WTF!?! I didn’t even know that book existed!"

  9. You have got to be kidding me?!?!?! A waste of a tree!!!

  10. wow, did not see that coming. Looking for the podcast on this one.

  11. They should have delayed Blackest Night a week just for Ifanboy… It might have finally had a chance this week as POW.

  12. After that Kieth "Talksplode," this does not surprise me in the least.

  13. All future Greg Rucka interviews just got much more awkward.

  14. Seven dollars?!  To quote a friend: "I say thee nay!"

  15. Definitely the most suprising picks I’ve ever seen! Despite knowing that there was Sam Keith art, I kinda dismissed this book since it seemed like another excuse to highlight a celebrity writing a comic. Though when I think about it, Glenn Danzig wrote a great miniseries based on Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer, and that Spider-Man Short Halloween one shot wasnt too bad. May need to double back and give this book a chance.

     

    Also, it doesn’t seem wise to mention the price of the book in the review, as some people will seem to do nothing but whine and bitch about it in the comments.

  16. As a new reader (since sdcc 09), i have no idea who or what Lobo is, and honestly i dont have slightest interested in it (especially at $6.99). am i bad?

  17. The price ain’t that bad assuming it has about 10 ad pages or less.

  18. It sounds pretty cool, I just…I don’t know if I can get past it being a Lobo book.

     

  19. But it’s Lobo.

  20. Eh, I can’t really complain about Lobo getting a POTW.  It was a pretty bad week. I only gave my POTW (THe Mighty) a 4/5… I hate doing that.

  21. I had a good week. Dropped one book (Haunt), recommitted to another (Sweet Tooth), and had to really think about my POTW (Stumptown or Mighty).

  22. Remember when LOBO killed Santa Claus?  I read that comic so many times when I was a kid!  I wonder what happened to it…

  23. $6.99?!!!!! Who can afford this? Rich people…………. I’ll wait for this to be in the dollar bin and when that day happens, the first thing I’ll think of is Stumptown.

  24. Scott Ian, huh? Does Lobo have silly facial hair?

  25. why does everyone keep saying OMG $6.99??!!!??!!

    page-wise, it’s the equivalent of a $3.50 book. 

  26. conor:

    64 pages times twice just make an OGN instead for around 14 bucks.

    7 dollars is just too high in this economy right now.

    Matthew

     

     

     

  27. WAAHH, iFanboy has such a DC bias!!!…oh Im sorry, are we not beating that complaint to death this week? Let me readjust…WAAHH, this book costs so much money!!!

  28. YES! I frikin’ called it!

  29. Just not sure about that whole Lobo thing, I never really got the appeal even during the height of the character’s appeal (though he was great in those old JLI issues).  Still that Keith art on the cover is really nice – did I read correctly that he’s contributing to an upcoming Batman Confidential run as well?

  30. Useless Fact #1

    If you skip all the ads and were to spend at least five minutes per page absorbing the wonderful Sam Keith art, as Ron claims he did, it would take you over four hours to finish reading this issue. 

  31. But, it’s Lobo.

  32. Will buy.

  33. huh

  34. 6.99 my ass

  35. If you’re a fan of Sam Kieth, google image search Ralph Steadman’s art. Many of you may be familiar with him, but for those of you who aren’t, he has a similar atttitude and line to Kieth’s, and he did a lot of work for Hunter S. Thompson. It’s great stuff.

  36. It’s going to have to be a no for me.

  37. Urge to kill ….

           …. Rising!

  38. Quite possibly the strangest pick ever. Seriously, you could not see this coming a mile away.

    But I love the pick! Lobo is one of those characters, to me anyways, that is so entertaining to read. He was a highlight on 52 and whenever he shows up in the DCAU cartoons. I hear they are doing a Lobo film in the future so that should be exciting as well.

    Sadly I didn’t pick this up because of the price. Normally a high price tag doesnt bother me in the slightest, but with a bad paying job lately I just can’t afford it. But I will be eagerly watiing for the trade of this or at least save up the cash to get both oversized issues at my LCS. Actually I am confused on why this just wasn’t a hardcover release only, like how Azzarello’s Joker story was.

    My pick was Deadpool Team-up #899, shocking I know.

  39. My comment on this being pick of the week:
    Iiiiit’s a madhouse!
    Or so they claaaaaaim!
    It’s a madhouse!
    [Is Ron] inSANE?!

    *solo*

  40. WHAT THE HELL?  What’s happened to the iFanboy Pick of the Week?  It keeps getting stranger and stranger.  I mean honestly – Lobo???  You’ve got to be kidding me.  (Smacks self on the forehead.)

  41. Finally Josh will stop getting shit for picking Scalped.  Now people will only remember Lobo and Ron.

  42. If we’re debating Ron’s sanity; I think we’ll remember his pick for X-Men Forever more then this. 🙂

  43. I was quoting Scott Ian’s band, Anthrax; I have no problem w/ this pick, nor do I doubt Ron’s mental state.

  44. I take my hat off to ron for his pik of the week but it is kind of expensive even though it is 64 sumwhat pages. Shoot, now where did I place my hat. 

  45. I always enjoy when the Pick falls to Ron "Out of Left Field" Richards because I originally think "What in the world…?" but then I read the review and am excited by his enthusiasm. That said, wild horses couldn’t drag me to involving Lobo and/or Anthrax.  Still, of my 9 books, I wasn’t overly impressed by any of them and still can’t decide which was the best (I am leaning toward Stumptown), so I am glad the choice was clear for Ron.

     

    I wish Scalped had come out this week. The choice is always clear on those weeks. 

  46. Okay, as the username implies, I am a little biased.  But I actually didn’t pick this book up. I was retiscent about this Lobo.  I like Sam Keith and all that, so it wasn’t the art, but really it was the fact that I love Lobo when written for the sole purpose of insults, gore and general insanity and I worried that this would not deliver.  Basically, Alan Grant and Giffen were and remain the kings of Lobo lore.

    Please, tell me if there is uncontrollable insanity and fragging in this story.

  47. I’m fine with this being pick of the week. (follow your feelings Ron!)  BUT  What I want to know is, a few months down the road (or, say, end of the year podcast) will you still look back and say "yeah, that was a great book!"  Or, will you say.. um, I was in a strange mood that week? 

  48. This WAS a great book, and I completely agree with Ron making it PotW. Good job dude.

    @lobofan – There is indeed uncontrollable insanity and fragging in this story, and it’s a blast!

  49. Wow a Lobo book …

  50. This book gets so much crap for the price point.  People will buy two issues of, say, New Avengers for $8 and not bat an eye, when they’re getting the same amount of comics.

    People are weird. 

  51. @Slockhart

    In fact they’re getting less because I think this Lobo special has way less ads. 

  52. This book has NO ads.

  53. While every fiber in my being told me not to agree with Ron, this was the best of my batch this week.  It, just so very slightly, outshined Stumptown in my opinion.  Well, congratulations Ron.  I said I’d never agree with one of your picks and now I have.  I’m still debating on whether that’s good or bad.

  54. And theres Josh… I picked it up for the art and not knowing the name I was at my LCS and said hey remember The Maxx it looks just like that.  To which my LCS owner said its the same guy… so I bought it and couldnt make it through… granted i had 5 beers and what not…. but thats not the point. POW really?

  55. 64 ad-less pages for $7?

    I don’t know how anyone can say this expensive compared to their normal pulls. 

  56. I love Sam Kieth’s art, and if I can’t have Simon Bisley drawing Lobo, then it has to be Sam Kieth.

    I’ve never seen such a visceral reaction to a character on iFanboy as with Lobo?  Why all the hate?  Whatever happened to judging the story itself and not the character in the title? When I stopped reading comics in the 90s no one like Thor because the stories were horrible.  They just couldn’t recapture that Simonson magic.  Then I come back to comics a couple years ago, and suddenly Thor is the toast of the town despite the fact that a lot of people (on the internet anyway) don’t like JMS.  

    Anyway, I thought the first few minis by Giffen, Grant, and Bisley were great.  At some point though Lobo became what he was trying to parody, and DC just overexposed him the way Marvel did Ghost Rider, Punisher, and Wolverine in the 90s.  Maybe that’s what people remember and why they don’t like him.  In my opinion, the original Lobo had so much potential for satire.  It literally reads like Wolverine was dropped into Douglas Adam’s "The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy."  Unfortunately, the moved away from that potential because they thought the fans wanted more of Lobo murdering people in extremely creative ways.  Maybe they did, but that’s what ruined the character for me, and perhaps why people hate him now: he became less than he should have been.

    I bet you 10 years from now people are going to have the same visceral reaction to Deadpool as well.   

  57. Actually, this is exactly how people respond to Deadpool now.

  58. @josh: And how.

    If only you would give him a chance though……*sniff*

  59. Yeah… no.

  60. I think it’s funny that as soon as I saw this title I said, "Ron must have had this week." 😛

  61. I don’t get all the bitching about the price. Sure it’s $6.99, but it’s 64 pages. Almost every one of us buys a $3.99 book and that’s only 32 pages with ads. So technically it’s a buck cheaper than 2 $3.99 comics. Plus it’s Sam Keith! I’m with Ron that he is one of the most interesting artistic voices of the last 25 years. If you’re not interested, you’re not interested, but it shouldn’t be because of the price.

  62. This was really good, and my introduction to Sam Keith.  I may have to go check out some Maxx now.

  63. Was never a huge Lobo fan even if it is drawm by Sam Keith.

     Wouldn’t have been my choice or even in my pull list.

  64. Sam Kieth is great and all, but Lobo just doesn’t interest me. I’m gonna sit this P.O.W over.

  65. I havn’t read this but I think the character Lobo is a blight on the DC universe that should be purged with fire.

    I rarely have a visceral dislike for a character, it’s irrational but I feel he ruins everything he’s in. 

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