Lobster Johnson: Get the Lobster! promises in the letters page to move the story of the Lobster forward in a way that it never has before. That’s nice to hear with a five-issue miniseries on the heels of the last six issues being largely self-contained glimpses of Lobster’s past. I mean, I love the guy, but there’s only so many times I can see this mysterious vigilante throw a haymaker and shout something about how “Justice is everywhere!” before I just want to know more. Get the Lobster starts with a Nazi dirigible hovering over Manhattan, Cindy Tynan publishing a less-than-flattering expose on the Lobster, and a wrestling match between Kiril Lukyan (the Russian Bear) and a luchador named the Devil Dwarf. Those two end up going on a five-day murder spree, before they meet the Lobster. Action ensues.
I don’t really know where to start with this issue. Tonci Zonjic’s art is on-point, as always. It’s not Mignola, but it still manages to keep the pulpy vibe that Lobster Johnson needs, especially in the wrestling sequences. I think a lot of it has to do with Dave Stewart’s colors. Stewart’s palettes manage to be the anchor that holds the whole Mignolaverse together. They vary from book to book, but his olive drabs and dark reds show up periodically to remind you where you are, and that you’re in good hands.
Overall, I wasn’t wowed by this book. It didn’t suck by any means, and any book that shows me a little person who is a luchador and who is bad as hell… that book has guaranteed I will buy at least one more issue.
The problem lies in the way Dark Horse structures their books. Since all their books are structured as individual miniseries within a larger arc, this issue is actually issue 16 of Lobster Johnson, not technically a number 1. But if they’re going to bill it as a number 1, the social contract states that it has to be both a) a good place to jump into the storyline and b) a hook that will get you to buy the next four issues.
This book doesn’t do particularly well with either. It relies on a lot of reference to previous issues that people are unfamiliar with if this is their first book, rarely (if ever) refers to the main characters by name so you know who they are, or give you a sense of what the story is. At this very moment, the story is that a wrestling team is taking over NYC. How does that stretch into five issues? What does it have to do with a Nazi dirigible that was seen page 1, panel 1, and referenced in dialogue page 1, panel 2? We get no answers, but the worst part is that we’re not sure when we’re being presented with questions.
I’ll check out the issue next month, but it’s going to be an uphill climb.
Writers: Mike Mignola & John Arcudi Artist: Tonci Zonjic Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/5/14