In Review: Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown #2

Adventure and the supernatural create fun and terrors in this exploit of the Lobster. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: The Lobster has found what he’s looking for: a Rolls Royce that’s in the drink. He’s about to open its door to find something horrific. Just behind him something much more deadly, and mechanical, is making its way to him. This is not going to go well for the hero. Interior artist Tonci Zonjic is responsible for the great layout and excellent use of colors, having the menace in a faded blue to give it distance. Overall grade: A+

The story: Two officers watch as one of the machinations vanquished by the Lobster in the previous issue is towed away, or tried to be taken from the premises. This transitions to the hero who easily gets into a character’s apartment to find a letter addressed “To whom it may concern”. He rips the letter open to find five words on a paper: “We have lost our souls”. He contacts his operatives who tell him that he’s looking for a man named Emin Aliyev. The man’s Rolls Royce is missing and that seems to be the end of the trail to the man until his minions get a call from another who tells them that he saw a Rolls go into the river. The Lobster goes to the scene, bringing his oxygen converter with him to dive down to investigate, which he does. In the dark water he quickly finds the vehicle. The reader will have made a good guess as to what’s within the transport, but Page 6 will show something that that no one will have expected. A good shock from Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, but they’re not done with the surprises in this issue. Mrs. Aliyev, who was seen doing something serious and rash in the previous issue, is encountered by one of the Lobster’s allies doing something, again, rash. After the resolution to her situation, she meets with the Lobster and the reader gets the backstory to issue’s metal antagonists and this is worth the price of the cover alone. It’s only eight pages long yet it’s absolutely epic in its scope. It contains enough ideas to sprout up in several other series in several other time periods in the Mignolaverse, but for this book it takes on a fantastic dark industrial tone, bringing up the name of a company that has become hellish in the B.P.R.D. series. After hearing this tale, the Lobster makes plans on what to do next, but his hand is forced by the dramatic action on the final page. Wow! That’s how you get a reader hyped for the concluding chapter. This is awesome. Overall grade: A+  

The art: The visuals on this book by Tonci Zonjic begin with three small panels that emulate the motion on a tow truck excellently. Zonjic then pulls back to reveal what the tow is being used for — to haul away one of the mechanical monsters. These four visuals instantly communicate to the reader the weight of this object. The scene is then humanized by pulling in on two officers talking. With a turn of the page the title character is shown from a terrific angle as he ascends the side of a building that would make Batman jealous. The goggled eyes of the Lobster are always his most dominate feature and they look tremendous as he makes his way through the dark apartment. Diving into the water, an environment that’s often not shown in the Lobster’s adventures, is really creepy: first for what he’s doing, but second for doing this with a device that predates the scuba tank — this looks really dangerous! The device he’s using casts a bright light from his chest, giving him a supernatural glow as he goes about his task, and it looks great. What’s found within the vehicle actually made me draw back from the page. Why? Because that’s not natural, that’s why! I’m sure Zonjic was a given a simple enough description of what it should look like and he wildly succeeds at creating it, making the reader uncomfortable. The flashback story is terrific, from  Aliyev’s entrance to the full-paged reveal of his discovery. I felt my mouth going agape at the find in the first panel on Page 14, which wonderfully mirrored in scale the tall panel on 15. I did not need to see the final panel on 17, thank you — I’m quite done with seeing that again. The final page is brilliant in the way the threat is revealed, in classic cliffhanger fashion, and what’s done in the last panel. It’s been said elsewhere, but Zonjic deserves every word of praise he’s getting when he draws this character’s exploits. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Dave Stewart uses subdued colors for this night time adventure, which not only creates the evening for the reader but also gives the book a dated feel, as if one is witnessing events from the 1930s. The first panel only gets a hint of brightness in the sound effect, but when the action occurs in the third the background goes orange to show the suddenness of the event. The Lobster’s goggles always have a blinding orange for their lenses, making it seem as if the hero can see in the dark, and the claw on the front of his uniform is always brilliant in deep blue. The underwater sequences have an unearthly green glow as he ventures into the deep. The full-paged splash of 13 is great, with yellow giving a mechanical and godly glow to the proceedings. Oranges appear to highlight action or light up windows, with the former being used to excellent effect in the final panel. This book seems marvelously aged thanks to the terrific coloring by Stewart. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Sounds, dialogue, cursive writing, a transmission, and the tease for the final issue are crafted by Clem Robins. His dialogue is always easy to read and the sounds are always one of the high points of Lobster comics, with even the breaking of cables or ropes looking cool. Robins is always tops. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Adventure and the supernatural create fun and terrors in this exploit of the Lobster. Why can’t this be a monthly? Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+ 

To learn more about this book and other adventures of Lobster Johnson go to http://www.darkhorse.com/Comics

To purchase a hard copy of this book or other issues go to http://www.tfaw.com/

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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