by Starsky Hutch 76
Somehow, the feared bounty hunter Lobo had gotten off the trail of Despero. He’d managed to tangle with him once, and it nearly got him fragged. Feetal’s giz, that fragger was tough! he thought. After coming to and treating his wounds, he’d run a simulation on the dashboard computer of his spacecraft — which eerily resembled an Earth motorcycle — using the variables of the path they’d taken with known info on Despero, and it told him to come to Earth — New York, specifically. Judging from the readings, he might’ve actually beaten him there. He cloaked his cycle and landed in an alley.
The tattered bodysuit of swirling multiple colors he wore would not do. Earth was home to a large assortment of meta-humans, but he didn’t particularly want to stand out at this point in time.
A biker started to walk by the opening of the alley, and Lobo quickly grabbed him and jerked him into the alley. “Gimme yer clothes, ya fraggin’ bastich!” Lobo bellowed.
“What are ya? Some kind of fruitcake?” the large biker said threateningly.
After a brief tussle, Lobo walked out of the alley wearing a black leather jacket, a Harley Davidson T-shirt, ripped jeans, and motorcycle boots. A bandana held his abnormally thick, wild, gravity-defying hair down so it hung down to his shoulders instead of in midair as it normally did. He found a pack of Marlboros in the pocket, so he took out a cigarette and lit it. He walked down the sidewalk and pondered his situation.
“Fragger may be too much ta handle by myself,” Lobo said to himself as he took a drag off the cigarette. “Can’t believe I’m sayin’ that. Nobody can take tha’ main man. Still, I gotta find some mooks to use as fodder so’s I can wear the fragger down enough to take him out. My rep’s on the line.”
He passed a small man in a business suit reading a newspaper and turned and began to follow him, looking over his shoulder. The man turned around and gasped in horror when he saw him. “Mind if I read yer paper?” Lobo growled.
“N-no! Here! Take it! It’s yours!” the mousy little man blurted, shoving the paper at Lobo.
“Thanks a heap, pal,” Lobo said, giving the man a playful punch in the arm that sent the man flying. “Hmm. They don’t make ’em very tough here,” he said. “Finding me some mooks may be tougher than I thought.” He looked at the front page of the paper, which he was able to read using a translator. “Or maybe not. The Conglomerate, huh? These may be just the mooks I’m looking for.”
Maxwell Lord heard a huge commotion outside his office. Someone was trying to fight their way in past his security forces. From the sounds of things, they were doing a pretty good job. Whoever it was would be there soon. He opened the desk drawer that held his concealed firearm and held his prone hand near it so he’d be ready when whoever it was came bursting through. If this was anyone from the Justice League trying to get him to back off, they would find out that Max Lord didn’t scare easily.
The door exploded into kindling, and a large, white-skinned, red-eyed, rough-looking man dressed as a biker came through, dragging several security guards behind him. “You Maxwell Lord? Lobo’s my name, and fraggin’s my game.”
Lord was completely unprepared for the sight before him. He wasn’t sure what fragging was, but he was sure it wasn’t anything he’d like. He kept a stiff upper lip nonetheless. “Well, Mr. Lobo. It would appear you have me at a disadvantage. What can I do for you?”
“It’s not what you can do for me, pal,” Lobo said, pointing at him. “It’s what I can do for you.”
The knowing smile returned to Maxwell Lord’s face. This was a situation he could handle. He shut the drawer that held his firearm. He would not be needing it.
Soon enough, Lobo sat in the chair opposite the desk in Maxwell Lord’s spacious office. In the distance behind Lobo, two handymen were busy attaching the new, heavy oak doors. To Lord’s side was another tall, well-dressed man he had summoned there.
“Your offer is interesting, Mr. Lobo,” Maxwell Lord said.
“Just Lobo,” said the bounty hunter. “It should be more than just interesting to you,” he said. “I got the biggest rep in three galaxies. And when this bastich gets here, I’m the one that can make sure you take him down first.”
“If that’s the case, then why haven’t you already done it?” Lord said.
“You tryin’ to make me mad, fancy boy?” Lobo said.
“No. Simply stating the fact that you need us just as much as you think we need you.”
Lobo grumbled, “So what are you getting at?”
“I’m trying to build a reputation for my team — you’re right about that,” Maxwell Lord said. “But it goes further than being just the biggest and baddest. I want my team to be greater in the public eye than even the Justice League. And a huge part of that is image. The one you have just doesn’t cut it for this team.”
“What?” Lobo said. “You mean yer cuttin’ me out just because I don’t cut it with yer goody-goody pack o’ pretty boys and chesty bimbos?”
“I wasn’t saying that,” Max said. “I’m just saying you’re going to have to do your part, too, if you want to make this work. You’re asking to not only to join my team, but to lead it! And that’s a pretty tall order. But it can be done. That’s where Mr. Smythe, here, comes in.”
“Hi — Timothy Smythe,” the tall man to Maxwell Lord’s side said in a voice that sounded like it came straight from an infomercial. He stepped forward to shake Lobo’s hand, and the bounty hunter had to stifle the urge to crush every bone in his body.
“Mr. Smythe, here, is an image consultant,” Maxwell Lord said. “I’ve put him to work on your problem.”
“My… problem?” Lobo grumbled.
“First thing that stands out right away is wardrobe,” Smythe said, gesturing to Lobo’s biker outfit. “The sort of thing you have on there might have been perfectly fine for your former line of work. But in the heroic set, the outfits tend to be a little more… colorful.” He set down two glossy pictures in front of Lobo. One was of the Justice League, and the other was of the other members of the Conglomerate. “As you can see, there’s a certain type of look to aspire to here. Bold, stylish, and form-fitting.”
“Hey!” Lobo said. “I already got this one taken care of. I’ve got an outfit just like this!”
“Really?” both Smythe and Lord said, their eyes lighting up.
“Sure!” Lobo said. He reached into his inside jacket pocket and pulled out the wadded-up remains of the multi-colored body suit he had worn on his trip to Earth and threw it on Maxwell Lord’s desk.
Smythe stared down in horror at the tattered, dirty, blood-stained bodysuit that smelled of body odor. “Well,” he said, “it’s a start.”
Later, Lobo and the rest of the members of the Conglomerate were gathered as an effeminate designer took their measurements for costuming. The Conglomerate were becoming increasingly bored, and the designer was becoming increasingly aggravated.
“I’ve had this here suit for years,” Lobo said, standing in front of a three-way, full-length mirror in his recently repaired orange-and-purple bodysuit. A white cape, gloves, and boots had been added to it. His hair was pulled into a ponytail. “And there ain’t nothin’ wrong with it.”
“It ees much too bust!” said the designer, Etienne. “Eet ees all wrong for the eemage Meester Lord wants for you! You aire soopposed to be a hero!”
“We added a cape,” Lobo said. “All them goody-goody’s got capes.”
“You steel look like a bad guy.”
“Oh, I’m bad, all right…”
“I wish you would at least let me cut your hair,” the designer said. “I could get Antoine. He would make you look so nice.”
“Ain’t nobody getting near me with scissors, sugar drawers — you got that?!“
“Oh!” the designer gasped, bringing the back of his hand up to his mouth. He turned on his heels and fled.
“Now look what you did!” Ice said. You made Etienne cry!”
“If I’d had to put up with him one more second, I might’a had to make him bleed,” Lobo snarled.
“I thought we were supposed to take bums like this down,” Guy Gardner said. “Instead we’re lettin’ them on the team!”
“Take your best shot, Gardner,” Lobo said, striking a match off the frame of the mirror to light a cigar. “We’ll see who gets taken down.”
Guy was just about to walk forward to take Lobo up on his offer when the door opened, and Maxwell Lord and Timothy Smythe walked in. Lord was carrying a box. “I think we’ve solved your image problem, Lobo!” he said.
“I ain’t got no problem,” Lobo said. “My rep’s just fine.”
“For our purposes, it wasn’t. But that’s not the case anymore,” Maxwell Lord said. “I’ve been meeting with the good folks over at Timely Comics and made them an offer. When I told them what I had in mind, I got the licensing rights for a song!” He opened the box, and inside was a red, white, and blue star-spangled costume. On top of it was a vintage comic book, which he took out and handed to Lobo.
Lobo read the name of the old comic, and a bewildered expression came onto his face. “General Glory?“
Later that day, at a nearby shopping mall:
“And last, but not least, we’re proud to introduce the newest member of the Conglomerate, the hero of yesteryear and team leader — General Glory!”
“Hello… uh… good citizens!” Lobo said into the microphone to the cheering audience. His greeting drew an even bigger round of cheers.
Maxwell Lord leaned in to Lobo and said, “Careful how you kiss the babies. One misplaced bit of drool could cut right through that flesh-toned make-up covering the bottom half of your face.”
“I’ll tell you what you can kiss, Lord,” Lobo hissed back.
“Now now, General,” Maxwell Lord warned, grinning. “That’s no way for the idol of millions to talk.”