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Lobo #42 (1993) The Dance of Death (revisited) – “Love fails before the aliens even arrive”

Writer: Alan Grant

Artist: Ariel Olivetti and mates

DC Comics, 1993


SMOKE FROM CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES reached Portland in fall 2018, dimmed the sky and shrouded the city in a filmy residue of incinerated forests, towns, and bodies, to be expected every year now as temperatures rise, and days remain bright and dry even as seasons change. Resisting the gloom, I turned for relief to the comic stacks for something foreboding but fun and found Lobo in Love, from 1993.

Lobo is a remarkably indestructible alien who loves to frag anyone for anything. Better dead than red or polka dot, in his view. I recalled my main man, as he often styles himself, can be set off by the smallest thing, and no mercy restrains him. Consequently, I was as surprised as Lobo on the first page of this South American drama set in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to find him in pursuit of his lost love, following her to Earth, and marvelling he did not frag her when she spurned him for “some other stud.” Wow. Love works even on Lobo. Or does it?

In this detour into destruction everything burns and the dance of death becomes two skeletons, just the image I was reaching to find, and revealing a new way to understand Lobo, seeing he is here in front of us all the time in the liberal ideal of individual rights and voluntary choice spawned by money and cities and industry and made to shape politics and economics worldwide ever since, inflated and congratulated by our poor progressives and grasping moguls alike. Everyone loves Lobo having his own way. By his precious voluntary principle, if he does not like somebody, then frag ‘em. Gone. You do not like your public school? Choose a new option, let the old one fail. Do not like the price? Get workers in China, lay off the locals. Do not like your town or your love or your friends or your fate? Move on. This liberal ideal founded America. Only in small unavoidable milieux like rural towns, a necessary job, a family commitment, or flattening poverty do we prefer to stay to tolerate if not fix what we do not like. By the light of choice, we are supposed to be able to shop and vote our favorites to make the best of all possible worlds. Viva la volunteer! Frag everyone else.

This continuing message planted by Gringo Grant and team with superb skill is far more devious than my slant, with excellent touches on terrorism, football fanaticism, and swing-era drama in a Latin beat. Fire and brimstone rain down on the planet not from anything Lobo does, but in spite of him. Lobo never cares. Dancing as a skeleton is fine with him. He gets off this planet soon anyhow.

His laugh makes it suddenly so obvious. You do not like your planet? Choose another one.

A Portland band with a name too impolite to repeat, in a 2004 song sang about “things that fail,” listing crappy things finger by finger that we allow and maintain, until reaching love as the answer, of course, get something to love, love is the key, love is the key for you and me but then again the refrain, like everything else, love fails. Love is one of the things that fails.

We are going straight to hell. With things that fail. Nothing voluntary about it.