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‘Lobster Johnson Omnibus Volume 1’ HC (review)

Written by Mike Mignola & John Arcudi
Art by Tonci Zonjic, Joe Querio, Kevin Nowlan,
Sebastián Fiumara, Wilfredo Torres, Dave Stewart
Published by Dark Horse Comics

 

From the world of Hellboy comes Lobster Johnson, the mysterious and deadly hero of 1930s New York City fighting Nazi spies and occult adversaries. A man whose real exploits were overshadowed by his fictional appearances in pulp comics, a favorite read for young Hellboy, only for him to encounter the real Lobster’s ghost decades later.

Lobster Johnson’s adventures are now collected for the first time in a hardcover edition, collecting The Burning Hand, Satan Smells a Rat and Get the Lobster, plus the short story “Lobster Johnson: The Empty Chair.”

Furthermore, the Omnibus collects variant covers, pin-ups, and sketchbook notes and model sheets from all the artists.

What a figure that pulp hero Lobster Johnson cuts.

A strongly built man dressed in black, a leather coat with his lobster-claw insignia, a matching helmet with those goggles, a belt of tools, his twin Colt pistols. And that left glove bearing a glowing brand with which he marks his prey upon their foreheads.

Whether you’re re-reading tales of the Lobster or encountering him for the first time, it’s clear how much fun Mignola and company are having with this character and his world.

For many a knowledgeable comic book fan, these stories will feel familiar – the foreign occultists and mad scientists, Nazis and Japanese spies, the black-and-white death dealing of justice, the callbacks to The Spider, Superman, The Shadow and, yes, The Bat-Man. (Especially those old Bill Finger stories where Batman killed bad guys without remorse.)

In fact, reading a bunch of Lobster stories in one big gulp such as the Omnibus left me taken aback at how often the Lobster charges into a room and just shoots everyone dead while enunciating their crimes to them. And Mignola and company have to do some bending to keep those old tropes from simply recreating the racism in yellow-peril pulp villains. Also, the lack of any forwards from Mignola or other creatives involved in these stories is glaring. Why not talk us through the character and everyone’s intentions and experiences with it?

But overall, the Omnibus delivers all the boom-pow, blam-blam and two-fisted action you’d expect, and then a whole lot more.

Grade: A

 

 

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