In Review: Lobster Johnson: The Glass Mantis

A night in the museum spawns murder, revenge, and the supernatural in this fun pulp outing. Recommended.

The cover: Standing on a gigantic statue of the Eyptian god Anubis, Lobster Johnson peers down at evil doers, equipped with a khopesh to deliver justice. A spectacular cover by the sensational Tonci Zonjic. I’ve enjoyed his previous work on Lobster covers and seeing his makes me miss seeing his work more often. Any chance, Dark Horse Comics, of making a collection of his Lobster covers as prints? Overall grade: A+

The story: April, 1935. The glass blown works of Turkish artist Enis Buyuk are on display in a museum. The centerpiece is the Glass Mantis, a fantastic large piece that stops all in their tracks. The other works shown seem “crude in comparison,” to quote one patron. This individual is quieted by her friend because the artist has arrived. The large bearded man from Turkey goes to a lectern where he apologizes for his bad English, “But if you come to Turkey, then you never shut me up!” The laughter from the audience is not shared by a striking woman who slowly pulls at the slit of her dress, while high in the ceiling the Lobster can be seen watching the event. As Buyuk continues to talk, the woman pulls a gun from the garter around her leg, shouts something in another language, and puts three shots into him. She drops her gun and immediately surrenders. Two G-Men take her away, and one of the Lobster’s operatives on the floor tells his boss, via their tiny radios, that Buyuk was an agent in disguise. The Lobster tells the man that the killer shouted “Imposter” before she shot him. Mike Mignola and John Arcudi’s story take several turns as there’s more than one false character in this tale, and someone who appears to be an enemy could be an ally. There’s plenty of action, which Lobster stories are famous for, and there’s a slick supernatural twist in the end that will have this glass image become iconic for fans of classic pulp adventure. Overall grade: A

The art: The artwork and the colors are created by Toni Fejzula. He does a superlative job in creating settings that fit the time period: the museum looks great — both on the inside and the outside. The vehicles shown look sensational. A new setting is introduced on Page 8 and it’s loaded with tons of details comprised of items found in such a location. The action is great, starting with the opening gunshots and ending with a spectacular revelation before the guilty. There’s also a slick flashback sequence; I would pay money to see Fejzula illustrate a story set entirely in this location, it looked so good. The coloring on this book is also really well done. I admit to being surprised to finding someone other than Dave Stewart coloring a Mignolaverse book, but Fejzula does a super job here as well. The greens he uses for the title object in the opening act look terrific, and when they are revisited they only improve tenfold, with Page 22 being a killer! I also like the blues used for the exterior sequences, which make the Lobster light up as he runs across rooftops. Fejzula is acing this book in every possible way. Overall grade: A

The letters: Clem Robins is responsible for scene settings, dialogue, sounds, yells, transmissions, and an editorial note. I’ve always enjoyed Robins’s work and his sounds never fail to thrill with their powerful design. Overall grade: A

The final line: A night in the museum spawns murder, revenge, and the supernatural in this fun pulp outing. Recommended. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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