The Dark Horse universe is filled with intriguing characters who deal with both the mundane and supernatural worlds. At times, these worlds intersect and chaos ensues. Lobster Johnson is one of the men who straddles these worlds by using his instincts and accumulated skills as a fighter against Nazis and gangsters in ’30s New York. In his own limited series “Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus,” writer/creator Mike Mignola and artist Jason Armstrong offer readers insight into Johnson’s world apart from Hellboy.
In this trade paperback, the opening panels are drawn in subtle, ominous colors with very little dialogue. Then all hell breaks loose. We learn that a secret sect and Hitler’s agents are both after a suit that could bring to the one who possesses it world domination. Johnson intercedes and temporarily saves the man’s life who’s wearing the suit. This story never loses its momentum, even with the interludes between the chapters that tell of The Lobster’s “true origins.” Mignola enjoys playing with urban myth, pulp fiction, and bad films of the ’40s and ‘50s during these breaks from the action.
Once the reader is back to the storyline, the thrill ride is non-stop. We are taken from Johnson’s underground hideout to New Jersey, where we see how he deals with mysticism, yetis, cannibals, German agents and a megalomaniac thrown in for good measure.
Each chapter reveals that luck plays an integral part in Johnson’s war against evil. Mignola expertly does this by using the fight scenes against the nefarious characters that Johnson faces. At one point, when Doctor Waxman comes out of nowhere (with steroid-looking goon in tow) to give Johnson a beat down, we see Johnson saved by the workings of the supernatural threat that towards the end of this adventure Johnson must face. It’s a scene full of the action and witty-ironic banter reminiscent of the first Indiana Jones film.
Armstrong’s artwork along with Dave Stewart’s coloring visually places you in a setting in which Mignola’s writing and Clem Robins lettering helps you understand this world. You breathe the air, your senses are completely in tune with your surroundings and every punch and kick that is given to our vigilante hero are felt.
Lobster Johnson is a throwback in the sense that he uses his fists and guns to handle his enemies. It’s his way of doling out justice to the ones he deems deserves it. And although he is a vigilante his decisions are never questionable. No they are not always honorable, but he is not dealing with people who go by some honorary code. His world is real and violent, which gives a sense of realism that Johnson just might not survive another encounter with one of his enemies.
At the end of the story, there are sketches of the characters and the hideout. They are interesting to note, but the collected series is the real reason to buy this trade.
This series could be in a movie trilogy in the same tone as Hellboy. Lobster Johnson deserves to have a film in his own right and not solely a side character who at times works for the B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense). In the animated film Johnson is alluded to and rumor has it that he might have a role in the third Hellboy film.
For now we have Lobster Johnson in print. With his signature claw brand on his enemies’ forehead we can tell the good guys from the bad. Here’s hoping that Johnson doesn’t have to come after you.