In Review: Lobster Johnson: The Pirate’s Ghost #3

The explosive finale to this series wraps up several characters' stories. Recommended.

The cover: The pattern of the previous two issues is repeated on this cover, though with a interesting addition. On the left side of the compositon are the surprised faces of Arnie Wald, El Bogavante, and Isog. On the right is the Lobster, Harry McTell, and Cindy Tynan. The middle image is the severed hand of El Bogavante, which bears the Lobster’s mark. The background is once again textured to resemble a leather cover, with it being an appropriate crimson. However, twine has been wrapped around the cover to keep the contents of this issue safely stored within. Do you dare open it? If so, blame Tonci Zonjic for making this frontpiece irresistible to keep sealed. Great final cover to this series. Overall grade: A

The story: Cindy is gagged and tied to a chair on the deck of gangster Wald’s riverboat. She’s bait to lure the Lobster, as twelve men with rifles are hiding in the bush, hired by Wald to kill the hero. The gangster is also hiding onshore, with faithful Isog by his side. The boss is carrying the severed hand of El Bogavante which began to drive him insane last issue. He’s seeing the ghost pirate walk across water to speak to him. He’s told he shouldn’t be hiding with Isog, he should be in the thick of the impending fight. “It’s out there on that boat! Along with the thrill and the glory. Out there! Out there, m’lad!” Wald turns to Isog and says he needs to go back to the boat. He says that they need to face the Lobster like men, because that’s what El Bogavante would do. Isog dismisses his belief in the myth, which the crime boss counters with the mummified hand that he’s holding as proof. It’s here that I must stop with what happens, because Isog makes several statements that changes the direction of the book. The actions that follow his revelations are shocking, with Page 6 being a stunning moment in Lobster history. To say that this was seen coming in Mike Mignola and John Arcudi’s story is impossible. The entrance on 8 is sensational, if only to be overshadowed by the fantastic dialogue on 9. The response that occurs on 11 is jaw dropping, with its fallout fully seen on 12 and 13. A specter of a human being appears on 14 and it’s awesome. Another character arrives on 16 upping the tension, but it’s the action on 18 and it’s single word of dialogue that will be remembered long after this series has ended. Pages 20 and 21 are heartbreaking, but necessary, given what’s happened. The final page is an excellent coda. Wow! — What an ending! Overall grade: A

The art: Tonci Zonjic does both the illustrations and the colors for this issue and they look great. The first panel of the issue is a vertical panel that begins with a distant focus on Cindy tied up and then as the reader’s eye goes downwards, becomes immersed in the foliage on the shore. This provides an excellent transition to the men shown in the second panel who are hiding in the growth to kill the Lobster. Wald is in an absolute panic in every panel he appears. He’s lost his mind and it’s obvious. The blues used to show that it’s night take a back seat to the neon blues that Wald has for his visions of the ghost pirate. Isog has been a calm character in all his appearances in Lobster books, but that final panel on Page 4 has him finally unleashed and it’s memorable. Equally memorable are the first two panels on 6; shocking isn’t strong enough a word to describe them and Zonjic makes them stunning. The entrance on 8 is cinematic and becomes godly on 10. I laughed out loud in joy at the action on 11, which has Zonjic pulling in tightly to increase the power that’s being unleashed. Orange becomes the primary color after this action and it gives the next seven pages an apocalyptic feel. Page 17 has only two words of dialogue but it’s probably the most emotional page in the Lobster’s run of adventures. For this page only, the color orange takes a loving tone. However, a turn of the page returns to the apocalypse, for the devil has arrived for payment and it’s fantastic. The last four pages of the book have a strong use of yellows, suggesting the rising of the sun (the danger has passed, it’s a new day) and the aging of the tale, reminding the reader that these events occurred decades ago. Look at the slick way Zonjic connects the last two pages together with the train’s movement. The characters on the final page had me thinking I was reading a comic book version of Mayberry R.F.D. or a Frank Capra film. Brilliant visuals. Overall grade: A

The letters: Whispers, dialogue, yells, sounds, wails, a death rattle, and a beautiful two worded conclusion are Clem Robins’s contributions to this closer. The sounds are terrific stuff this issue, with the climax on the lake being the standout, especially on Pages 10 – 13. There’s also some really neat yelling done by El Bogavante that will give readers the sweats, much in the way it does to Wald. The stand out of Robins’s work this issue is the final two words of text on the last page: they are flat out beautiful and mirror the ending of classic film. Terrific work. Overall grade: A

The final line: The explosive finale to this series wraps up several characters’ stories and shows how far one will go for justice. A Golden Age adventure for the Modern Age. Recommended. Overall grade: A

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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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