In Review: Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown #3

A terrific conclusion to metal behemoths and the monsters that control them.

The cover: Swinging from a rope, the Lobster launches himself at one of the Metal Monsters. The mechanical creature turns its head to the hero and might end up losing its eyes to the protagonist’s feet! Great action imagery captured by interior artist Tonci Zonjic. I love the pose of the Lobster and his size compared to that of his foe makes his actions seem even more heroic. The coloring is also terrific, set against an explosion of yellow flame, with white streaks streaming before and behind both characters. The perfect cover to sum up what this final issue is all about. Overall grade: A+

The story: Last issue the title character and Mrs. Frieda Aliyev, who had just revealed the origin of the monsters, were attacked by one of the mechanical men, which drove its fist into the apartment where the two were speaking. This issue starts with emergency services on the scene. Two firemen within the ruble come across Mrs. Aliyev’s body, prompting one to say, “You don’t really expect anybody to live through this, did you?” His partner replies, “You ain’t been at this long as me. I’ve seen surprises more than–eh?” And that’s when the Lobster rises from the debris and runs off. Back at the pier, Lester is telling another of the Lobster’s operatives how they’re planning on using the hardware within Aliyev’s shack to trace the signal within to the operator of the other mechanical monster. Lester confesses, “I just hope I can figure out to work the controls quickly enough to make the broadcast without it turning me into some kind of ‘fiend.'” The Lobster arrives and shocks the men with what he plans on doing, and what a plan it is! Before it’s implemented, writers Mike Mignola and John Arcudi show where Cindy Tynan is, as well as where a certain truck and its cargo is located. Both become very important in this tale’s finale. The action begins on 6 and it doesn’t let up until 21. There’s a slugfest that’s a dream come to afficionados of robots, and I count myself among them. The play-by-play by Tynan as the monsters fight is reminiscent of the infamous broadcast from the Mercury Theater’s production of The War of the Worlds. However, the story takes a very interesting turn on 16 when one of the monsters does something to another that instills their faceless forms with a lot of emotion. There are also two supporting characters that have made several appearances in previous Lobster tales that listen to Tynan’s broadcast and their commentary hints that they’re not done with trying to take down the reporter. A success of a story in every way. Overall grade: A+

The art: Tonci Zonjic is the perfect artist for this series. He masterfully captures the vehicles and settings of the time. The first page looks as though it could be pulled from any photo or film from the 1930s. The final panel on the page is subtle, yet strong way to convey the passing of Mrs. Aliyev. The Lobster’s rise from the dead is a real slick reveal because only his back is shown to the reader. In the panel that follows Zonjic gives a close up on the Lobster’s chest, with his face only partially shown. This is a terrific way to show the violence he’s endured and have the reader’s imagination make the pain the hero is feeling worse than what he or she is seeing, since he’s still not been completely shown. Only after one of the fireman yells to his chief what he’s seen does the reader see the title character completely, and he’s running on a rooftop, seemingly back to full strength. This is how hero reveals should be done! The setting shown on Page 4 is futuristic looking, but primitive — piecemealed together from a variety of items. If Zonjic had been given more time to explore this setting, I would have been happy. The entrance on 6 is cinematic and I love how Zonjic uses well known objects to contrast with the device, constantly giving it a sense of scale and power. The Lobster’s reactions on 10 and 11 are outstanding; the way he’s posed and the stress on his face instantly show the reader the severity of what he’s doing. I also like the bottom panel on 13 which shows Cindy at work. 15 has a great shocker of a panel that’s in the middle of the page, but my favorite image is the bottom of 17 because it has so much drama attached to it. Zonjic should be back at work on the Lobster as soon as possible! Overall grade: A+

The colors: The coloring by Dave Stewart really punches up the visuals. I like how the orange of the windows and the red of the fire truck gives the reader a sense of urgency and disaster. When the Lobster appears on 2 and 3 he’s colored in ashen gray. This gives him a look of a survivor and also of the ghost that the fireman claims to have seen. I love that his goggles continue to have their vibrant orange, designating him as unearthly. The yellow panel that ends 4 is a great way to signify with colors what’s occurring. When the monsters clash the backgrounds or sounds turn orange to enhance the intensity of their violence. Stewart is aces. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Clem Robins provides dialogue, yells, sounds, radio broadcasts, and an editorial note. I’m so thankful that when characters yell at one another, as is done in the opening pages, Robins doesn’t simply italicize the letters, but he enlarges them, making the reader make the jump that the words are stronger. The sounds are incredibly cool and one couldn’t ask for better ones when two metal monsters fight. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A terrific conclusion to metal behemoths and the monsters that control them. The Lobster cannot return soon enough to fight evil. Highest possible recommendation of the week! 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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