Publish date: August 21, 2013 Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
When I asked to review Lobster Johnson: A Scent of Lotus #2, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. “Lobster” seemed like a silly name, so I suspected this might be another humor title. What I got instead was a nifty little piece of pulp-flavored noir, reminiscent of some of the earliest Golden Age superhero stories, but in all the best ways. That’s not to say that this piece is lacking in originality, though. On the contrary, there’s a perfect amount of the unexpected (tiny monkeys assassins, anyone?) sprinkled throughout, and the obligatory but well-paced mystery at the heart of the story kept me guessing.
There’s no shortage of all the things we’ve come to expect in a story of this type, set in the early days of the masked mystery men. A snooping cop who thinks our hero is a villain, a beautiful dame with ties to the media, a bit of international intrigue with an enigmatic villain—it’s all here. What makes this story shine is the deft execution. Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, two seasoned professionals, do a fantastic job of keeping the proceedings moving along briskly, and bringing the issue to a satisfying close despite several promising subplots which will continue on into the next chapter. Even though it’s all couched in familiarity, the dialogue simply sparkles, and the flow and pacing keep everything interesting. It’s the kind of thing that could be rewarding to several kinds of readers, from the action-adventure fan looking for a quick distraction, to the dedicated follower of the creators or the time period who wants to delve in a little more deeply. One more thing I really appreciated was that, although there were a fair amount of supporting characters introduced to me for the first time here, the story was written and plotted in such a way as to make it easy to identify each one, and to infer their places in the story.
The art was pleasing too. Although I admire Mike Mignola’s sense of composition and storytelling ability, at times I find his art to be a little too abstract for my taste. The art in this issue, by Sebastian Fumiara, was clearly influenced by Mignola’s earlier work on Hellboy (which the Lobster Johnson character is from, apparently) but I believe that the casual comic book reader will find this much easier on the eyes. There’s a raggedness on the edges of everything which helps to sell the pre-WWII, Great Depression era that this story is set in, there are some really nice facial expressions, and the backgrounds are not overly detailed, which also lends to the feeling of the early pulp days.
Overall, I really enjoyed this comic book. It was a fairly easy read, but was interesting and exciting enough to keep anyone’s interest. I have a special love for the time period during which this was set, which I think would be a bonus to any fan of the genre, but I believe that there’s enough here to be worth the time from any comic book fan.
I’m a lifelong media junkie, with a special love for comic books and geek culture. There’s a fine, blurry line between a good time, and art that actually means something. I’m interested in exploring the ways that both sides of that line impact our lives, and the things we can learn about ourselves and each other.