Lobster Johnson: Garden of Bones

You can't go wrong with Lobster Johnson. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: Lobster Johnson, as a character, lends himself to some of the most thrilling covers created and this frontpiece by Tonci Zonjic is no exception. Zonjic has illustrated the Lobster several times and continues to make him look stunning. This cover teases some of the creatures he’ll be battling: the undead! Using a pickax, the Lobster takes a swing at one creature, decapitating it, while several more rear up to battle him. The action captured is excellent, with the positioning of the hero and the beast (with all its bone fragments flying) super. The coloring is also cool, with a dark pink used in the background to highlight the blues of the hero and the reds of the monsters. This is poster, print, and tee shirt worthy! Overall grade: A+

The story: “Freegrove, New Jersey. 1935.” The Lobster has been taken to a graveyard by operative Harry to look at the resting spot of Big Benny Jeunot, a recently deceased gambler who became freelance muscle for the mob. After his burial, police officers have been getting shot and bullets reportedly pass through the giant assassin. Plus, the killer leaves a calling card: a skull with dice for eyes. Harry knows it’s not Voodoo that’s involved, his father was a houngan, so he knows that a body buried in consecrated ground can’t be revived, let alone “leaping over tall buildings and shooting things up…Zombies are mindless slaves, not acrobats!” The man’s plot hasn’t been disturbed, but the Lobster wants to check the body. If being in a graveyard in the rain to illegally dig up a body isn’t scary enough, the action that kicks in on Page 5 is intense. I like that it’s not an easy fight for the hero, and results in him taking extreme measures to end it. This battle is only a prelude to a sweet, twisted reveal on 9 that features three of the best antagonists in the Lobster’s history. Their backstory is believable and contains just enough spite for their motivations. Naturally, Mike Mignola and John Arcudi are not going to have things go easy for the Lobster and Harry, and they gleefully don’t, but it’s the actions of this trio of villains during the fight scene that add a deliciously dark depth to the story. The solution to how Harry and the Lobster escape the onslaught of the undead is terrific and is only topped by the jaw dropping finality of the last page. This story will thrill and stun a reader. Overall grade: A+

The art: Stephen Green provides the illustrations for this issue, with Geoff Shaw providing some additional inks. To be succinct, the book looks great. The opening page sets up the sinister setting of the graveyard, with the car providing a visual clue to the time period. Pages 2 and 3 show the life and death, and possible undead life, of Jeunot. Even without the text (but why would you not read it?), one can understand what the story is telling. I especially like that after Jeunot has been buried, the assassin has been rendered in black, showing that even Harry, the tale teller, is unsure of the identity of the mysterious killer. Page 5 has the last three panels dialogue free, making Green and Shaw tell the action with their images and it’s awesome; the final panel showing the Lobster’s reaction to the pair of sounds is wonderful. The action that follows is frantic and the third panel on 7 actually made me gasp: it’s not often that a hero is shown with this occurring during a battle, so I was thrilled and shocked to see it. The look on the Lobster’s face during this moment was perfection. The trio of villains that are later encountered and their environment is also stellar. Their flashback sequences also are well done. When the number of assailants increases, it’s the best of any horror or action movie. The emotions on the heroes’ faces tell much of the story, because there’s no time for dialogue, and two of the best come from Harry on 17 and 19. The final page has an incredibly surprising/dynamic/awesome conclusion where each panel builds amazingly to the conclusion. The images match the text beautifully. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The grays and dead greens that open the book set the secretive and dark tone for the work of the heroes’ quest. This is followed by a spectacular two page flashback that uses brick red and yellow to tell the fast life and possibly undead life of Big Benny Jeunot. Doing this makes the man’s life violent, it was, and his possible new life bloody. A return to the opening colors veers the book back to its sinister tone, with only the Lobster’s orange goggle lenses brightening the scene and directing the reader’s attention to him. The sounds on 6 and 7 explode with color to highlight the violence and the splash of red on the latter made me gasp. Dave Stewart continues to make this book visually impressive with excellent earth tones for the final setting and the creatures that seek to do the heroes harm. I love that sounds get brighter colors to make them loud and that action sequences explode with orange or yellow for the backgrounds. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Clem Robins provides the book’s scene setting, dialogue, and sounds. Every word is crisp, clean, and clear, but those sounds dominate the book. Every gunshot, kick, and punch will be felt by the reader. Overall grade: A+

The final line: You can’t go wrong with Lobster Johnson. Every tale creates thrills and chills. Garden of Bones doesn’t have to dig deep to thoroughly entertain the reader. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

To order a print copy of this book go to http://www.tfaw.com/Comics/Profile/Lobster-Johnson-Garden-of-Bones___527062?utm_source=darkhorse&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=darkhorse_buy&utm_term=buy+Lobster+Johnson%3A+Garden+of+Bones

To order a digital copy of this book go to https://digital.darkhorse.com/books/90df3ef13f2f42d89664e9ad26ccabd8/lobster-johnson-garden-of-bones

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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