Review: Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown #1

Giant machines are inexplicably and unstoppably wreaking havoc in New York. The Lobster and his friends take on an almost Wile E. Coyote approach to opposing the titular metal monsters, throwing ideas around and falling victim to slapstick. There’s a great economy of dialog, showing off both John Arcudi's gift for tone and Tonci Zonjic's flair for dynamism. The upshot is that this story pushes forward with ease and excitement. While many of the characters are trope-y and stock, the book is crafted with enough confidence that the material doesn't feel precious. At no point does Arcudi let reverence for the story's period replace actual modern storytelling. As the Lobster is so 27172detached and focused, the supporting cast has to fill in the emotional void he leaves. And, like the plot delivery, Arcudi allows the art to convey what a clutter of text would struggle to get across. The Hellboy universe sometimes proves to be more an idealized reflection of our world than an alternate history. With a brief, less-than-subtle reminder of 1930s America's racial tension, the book reminds us that this fantasy world still kind of sucks in very familiar ways. But this is a book about a man shooting grenades at giant robots, so there's nothing too heavy in terms of social commentary.

I enjoy the lack of personality or animal mimicry in the robot designs. They are brutal instruments, not granted much in the way of recognizable anatomy. Their motives are as obscure as their bodies are utilitarian. Toni Zonjic illustrates the machines as tools, objects that must be under some kind of human command; even the Lobster finds himself momentarily confounded by exactly what he’s trying to combat. Because of the alien nature of the threat, Metal Monsters of Midtown starts with an effective mystery. I’m hoping the mini will maintain its quality.

Score: 4/5

Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown #1 (of 3) Writer: John Arcudi and Mike Mignola Artist: Tonci Zonjic Colorist: Dave Stewart Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 5/25/2016 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital