Lobster Johnson, vol. 3: Satan Smells a Rat

Lobster Johnson TP Vol.3: Satan Smells a RatThe Lobster cuts a familiar silhouette: clad in black leather, the symbol of the claw emblazoned on his chest, and yellow lense goggles piercing the shadows. The Lobster brings swift justice, often at the end of a gun barrel, and his foes are left with the mark of the Lobster’s claw burned onto their bodies. The one-shots, presented in Lobster Johnson‘s third volume of collected works, skillfully capture the tone of the 1930s and one vigilante’s relentless pursuit of evil.

This collection of tales, written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, follow further adventures of the Lobster, a spinoff character from the same universe as Hellboy and B.P.R.D.  The Lobster is the epitome of the newsreel crime-fighter, often going up against Nazis, gangsters, and paranormal antagonists, much in the spirit of the world that Mignola has crafted for his roster of weird, haunted heroes. In this third volume of collected stories, Lobster Johnson must contend with foes, both supernatural and mundane, from sinister, otherworldly cultists to rotten gangsters. Mignola and Arcudi often let the action speak for itself; the plot typically stays focused like a searchlight on the Lobster (or the Lobster’s current quarry), without too much wordiness or exposition. Whether it’s intense and packed with movement during a fight or eerie, still, and moody when the plot thickens, the writers have taken great pains to create a specific atmosphere for each tale that meshes well with the art.

The art on all of these stories is shared by a roster of young talent. In particular, Tonci Zonjic’s pencils on the story titled “Caput Mortuum” follows in a similar style to Mignola’s own work: bold, strong lines and striking angles combined with a fantastic composition of action in the panels. Wilfredo Torres’ work on the “The Prayer of Neferu” also stands out in the collection with a playfulness that matches the content of the script — it’s energetic, bright, and just the right amount of Saturday morning cartoony.

Lobster Johnson is definitely a series for folks who don’t mind a lack of complication combined with a flair for action and suspense. While the plot may be a little boilerplate, the world is so richly crafted that any fan of Indiana Jones, the Shadow, or Doc Savage would easily hear the fists cracking into jaws and the warehouse windows shattering.

Lobster Johnson, vol. 3: Satan Smells a Rat
by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi
Art by Tonci Zonjic, Kevin Nowlan, Joe Querio, Sebastian Fiumara, Wilfredo Torres
ISBN: 9781616552039
Dark Horse, 2014
Publisher Age Rating: (16+)