Archive for Lobster Johnson

Dancy in the Dark

Alabaster: Wolves #1

Caitlin R. Kiernan is the writer of this new Dark Horse series, based on the adventures of a character she’s written in several books. Dancy Flammarion is a young Southern girl, an albino, and a monster hunter, watched over by her own multi-headed guardian angel. Dancy is hanging out in a small, dying town in South Carolina waiting for a bus when she meets up with a girl who knows far too much about her — in fact, the girl is a werewolf, and she challenges Dancy to a riddle contest. If Dancy wins, she gets back a cigar box of her old trinkets and possessions; if the werewolf wins, it’s suppertime. And then Dancy has to go and screw it all up by making her angel mad.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Didn’t plan on picking this up, and didn’t know anything about the novels the character comes from, but the previews I saw of this were really great fun. Dancy is a really wonderful character with a great voice and personality. Heck, the werewolf girl is a great character, too. Come to think of it, the bird Dancy talks to is a pretty good character, too. Love Steve Lieber’s artwork, too — the atmosphere in the deserted town is pretty much perfect.

Batgirl #8

Barbara has learned that one of Grotesque’s minions was one of the Joker’s henchmen on the night she was shot. And for some reason, she lets him go free. She finally has the long-overdue talk with her estranged mother and learns that she left the family because she had a breakdown when Barbara’s little brother, James Jr., killed a cat and told her he’d kill Babs if she didn’t leave the family. Batgirl meets up with Grotesque again, gives him the beatdown he deserves, and gets her unexpected closure from Danny, the henchman who watched her get shot all those years ago. All that plus a nice little cliffhanger on the last page…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m not sure I buy Babs letting Danny go the first time, but the rest of the comic is gold. And the cliffhanger really is stellar. Don’t wanna say more and spoil it, but it’s just wonderful — I was afraid we’d lost that particular character in the DC Reboot.

Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #4

The Black Flame, a skull-faced specter able to burn anything with mystical black fire, is running amok as mobster Arnie Wald presses his attack on Lobster Johnson and his crimefighting cohorts. Lobster takes out most of the gangsters, but the Black Flame is a bit more impervious. Can anything stop the undying monster?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent art and writing. Good twists and turns in the story, too.

Comments off

House of Frankenstein

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #7

The Humanids — artificial life forms that run S.H.A.D.E.’s headquarters — have revolted, thanks to rogue programming from Brother Eye, and they’ve set free the monstrous prisoners in the brig. By the time Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos bust in, they’re threatening to kill Lady Frankenstein, Dr. Mazursky, Ray Palmer, and Father Time. Of course, at that point, there’s fightin’ galore. Velcoro and Griffith pay a visit to the Armory, Dr. Palmer shows off some shrinking abilities (but says wearing a costume is “not my style”), and one of the monsters manages to hack off Khalis’ head. But there was one prisoner who managed to escape the HQ, and that’s bad news for everyone.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action — and best of all, Frankenstein’s dialogue is finally starting to sound like the dialogue Grant Morrison used for the character in the “Seven Soldiers” miniseries. If Jeff Lemire can keep that style of poetic rage going — wait, what’s that? Lemire is leaving this book soon? Dagnabbit.

Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #3

The Black Flame, a magical fiend able to burn anything with mystical black fire, is running wild in the city at the behest of gangster Arnie Wald. Fire crews can’t put out the fires, and Lobster Johnson and his friends can’t kill him. Even worse, he’s got sorcerers on his side, and they’re going to try to find out all of the Lobster’s secrets — including where to find reporter Cindy Tynan.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art by Tonci Zonjic, and excellent storytelling from Mike Mignola and John Arcudi. Wonderfully tense stuff, with the right kind of hopeless outlook you need for the middle chapter of a miniseries.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments (4)

Turing Point

Atomic Robo: The Ghost of Station X #5

In the finale of the latest storyline, Atomic Robo has had himself packaged up and shipped to Hashima Island, Japan, the source of the conspiracy against Robo and the Action Scientists of Tesladyne. It’s the same location that his former employees Louis and Martin and the British secret agent, the Sparrow, have traveled to so they can find a house that was mysteriously, um, housenapped. When they find the house, Robo goes in to look around and finds an artificial intelligence that calls itself Alan, after its creator, Alan Turing. Well, Turing was a nice guy — surely the Alan AI is nice, too? Nope. Alan wants to blast off of Earth to become the ultimate space-computer, and he plans to destroy the planet in the process. Can Robo fight off a computer that controls a vast underground complex in time to save the Earth?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Talky — but if you can’t handle comic-book science talk from computer minds built by Nikola Tesla and Alan Turing, you really shouldn’t handle comic books. Good fun, good humor, good action, and high stakes.

Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #2

Newspaper reporter Cindy Tynan has been saved from gangster Arnie Wald’s goons by Lobster Johnson, and he has her in hiding to keep her safe. Of course, Tynan isn’t real happy about that, but Lobster won’t let her go free until he knows Wald is out of business — and dead — permanently. Tynan is able to clue the crimefighter in on one of Wald’s hideouts, and though Lobster takes out Wald’s goons, the mobster gets away. And when he gets back to New York, he goes about finding some mystical protection…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent art, fantastic action. Don’t know what else I can say — it’s good stuff, so if you love supernatural-themed pulp, this is something you may like.

Batgirl #6

Batgirl has to fight a mind-controlled Bruce Wayne, but she starts to suspect he’s faking the mind control — partly because he isn’t fighting as well as Batgirl knows he can, and partly because Batman can resist any mind control. Gretel makes her escape when Babs engineers an excuse for Wayne to break free of her mental powers, then we get Gretel’s origin story — she used to be a reporter named Lisly Bonner who was trying to expose a mobster, but when her secret was exposed, she got shot and dumped in the bay. But the brain injury awakened psychic powers which she’s using to get revenge on the mobsters who attacked her. Batgirl is able to figure out her secret and she sets up a trap for Gretel — but will she and Bruce Wayne end up getting killed when Gretel takes over the minds of the Gotham police?

Verdict: I have to thumbs this one down. I didn’t mind most of it, but it lost me early on with a couple of game-breakers. First, I don’t buy the idea that Batman can actually resist all mental attacks — he’s got a lot of willpower, yeah, but I don’t buy that he can completely shrug off a telepathic attack so easily. Second, Gretel even says she was in Bruce Wayne’s mind — either she was telling the truth and never realized that she couldn’t control him, or she was lying and knew she wasn’t controlling him, and then stuck around to risk capture. And we also got no explanation for the weird fugue state that Gretel went into during last issue. On top of all that, I’m just really not digging Barbara Gordon’s subplots — I don’t care beans about her estranged mother, and I don’t buy that this obsessed cop would keep pursuing Batgirl when Commissioner Gordon had already told her she didn’t have a case.

The Defenders #3

Dr. Strange, Namor, the Silver Surfer, Iron Fist, and Red She-Hulk are underneath Wundagore Mountain hoping to stop Nul, the Breaker of Worlds from busting up a machine that will destroy the universe. They also have to stop Prester John from trying to escape the universe before everything goes kablooey. Can they pull all that off by themselves?

Verdict: Thumbs down. Here’s the problem with this — if the Defenders had never shown up at all, the end result of this would all be the same. The machine’s guardian would’ve banished Nul whether or not they showed up. And Prester John would’ve gone flying his big spaceship around without really doing any harm, but now the Surfer messed up his trajectory, and… I don’t really see the point. The art is nice, but these guys just ran around for three issues and accomplished nothing. You get better results from the Inferior Five.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Beware the Claw!

Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #1

This new Lobster Johnson series starts off with a 1930s setting, a scalped cop, and a bunch of mobsters dressed up as ghostly Indians. They all get slaughtered by Lobster Johnson before they can kill anyone else, and the case attracts the attention of a newspaper reporter named Cindy Tynan, and while most of the locals refuse to talk to her, she’s able to get a lot of the backstory from Harry McTell, a black mechanic, who shares his theory that the mobsters are pulling a Scooby-Doo plot — scare off all the locals, then buy their homes for a song. But when the Mob finds out that Cindy is snooping into their business, they’re going to send a few goons out to give her a permanent deadline.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent writing as ever from Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, with the excellent addition of Tonci Zonjic on art chores. Zonjic does a great job with action, facial expressions, and pretty much everything he works on, and I always love seeing his stuff.

Wonder Woman #5

While Wonder Woman, Hermes, and Zola hang around London, they meet up with a guy named Lennox, who claims to be the half-mortal son of one of the gods. He offers to help them out, and Wonder Woman gets to have a meeting with Poseidon, the very large and very fishy god of the sea. How will he react to Wondy’s request for an audience? And what kind of trouble is Lennox going to run into in London’s sewers?

Verdict: I’ll thumb this one up for the sake of Tony Akins’ art (which isn’t as good as Cliff Chiang’s, but is still pretty good) and for the always-fun visions of the modern-day Greek pantheon. But I don’t yet understand why anyone should care about Lennox, and the issue in general doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of story or action running through it.

Severed #6

Jack Garron is traveling to his father’s home in Mississippi with the traveling salesman, who he has recently discovered is a violent, murderous man who’s lied about his friend Sam deserting and robbing him. Jack gives the salesman the wrong address to his father’s home, then accompanies him to the “recording studio” — actually just a shack in the swamp. Jack tries to kill him with a switchblade, but the salesman has an axe — and his scary shark teeth. Jack wisely beats it outta there and steals the salesman’s car. Hoping he’s seen the last of the salesman, Jack heads for his father’s home, only to learn that both of his birth parents have been dead for almost a decade. So who’s been sending him letters all this time?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great suspense and beautiful artwork. This one’s nearing the end, and I’m keen to see how it all works out.

The Unwritten #33

More and more people worldwide believe that Tom Taylor is the boy wizard Tommy Taylor, and as a result, Tom is hyper-charged with magical power. He plans to hit the Cabal’s headquarters as soon as possible so he’ll have enough magic to overwhelm their defenses, but he needs more information about where their HQ is located, which he manages to get by summoning and interrogating the ghost of the architect who created the building. But the Cabal knows he’s probably on the way. Pullman gives them a lecture on how consensus reality works and doesn’t work, and the Cabal’s masters work on a desperate gamble involving storytelling. Do they stand a chance of stopping Tom?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good dialogue, plot development and twists, fun art. As always, a good, solid read.

Today’s Cool Links:

Comments off

Highway to Hell


Hellboy: The Bride of Hell

A quick one-shot issue from the superstar team of Mike Mignola and Richard Corben, the folks behind 2008’s brilliant “Hellboy: The Crooked Man” miniseries. Hellboy travels to France on behalf of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense to rescue a girl kidnapped by a cult that wants to make her into the bride of a demon. Of course, things don’t go entirely to plan, as Hellboy is stuck with an unconscious bride-to-be and an angry monster-demon. He finds temporary respite in an ancient cemetery dedicated to a saint reknowned for his powers against the forces of Hell. A lone monk tells him that his order has slowly been picked off over the years by the demon — while it can’t enter the cemetery, it can attack anyone who leaves. Knowing he’ll have to take out the monster in order to get the girl home, Hellboy leaves her sleeping in the cemetery while he goes out to find the demon, who has his own backstory to tell.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Mignola’s storytelling is wonderful as always. Corben’s artwork is hully-chee-whiz drop-dead gorgeous. Asmodeus’ story is beautifully told, alternating between chilling and amusing, particularly his boredom after taking over a kingdom and having to deal with the mundane aspects of governing. It’s an absolutely awesome comic, and you should go hunt it down so you can enjoy it.


B.P.R.D.: King of Fear #1

In the wake of the disastrous mission to Mongolia that wiped out a bunch of American military men during an attack by an army of monsters, the BPRD has lost the support of the American government. While Dr. Manning and Abe Sapien try to decide how they’ll take the fight back to the frogs and the subterrans, Liz Sherman looks forward to burning some monsters, and Kate Corrigan takes a trip to the infamous Hunte Castle with her German military friend Bruno and the ghost of Lobster Johnson, possessing Johann Kraus’ ectoplasmic form.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice beginning to this new storyline. Lobster Johnson is an eerie and sad presence throughout the story. And Andrew Devon’s nervousness around ancient Egyptian mummy Panya and her awesome new Queen Elizabeth II hairstyle is an amusing mood-breaker.

Comments off

Sunday Leftovers

I found a couple Mike Mignola comics I’d forgotten to review last week hidden under a pile of papers, so let’s go ahead and take a look at them real quick.


B.P.R.D.: 1946 #1

A new series, written by Mignola and Joshua Dysart, and illustrated by Paul Azaceta. It focuses on the early history of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, or the BPRD. This first issue is set in post-war Berlin, split between the Americans and the Soviets. Trevor Bruttenholm, Hellboy’s “father,” has come to the city to try to catalog the Nazis’ occult research. Unfortunately, the Americans can only spare him a group of five sad-sack soldiers with little-to-no experience with research, while the Soviets have an extremely well-organized operation that’s easily snapping up all the best artifacts.

So far, the best moments involve Bruttenholm going to visit the Soviet side of Berlin, discovering how far out of his league he is compared to the Russians’ progress, and meeting Varvara, the person in charge of the Soviets’ research operation, who is apparently a vodka-chugging little girl. Later, Bruttenholm and one of his assistants visit a secret Nazi laboratory that has been deserted… or has it?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story gives a good idea of what post-war Berlin felt like, the characters are pretty fun, and the story is pretty creepy, especially at the end. Looking forward to the rest of this series.


Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus #5

As much as I enjoyed the previous four issues of this comic, this one let me down a little. The evil Fu-Manchu-esque villain sticks Lobster with some mystical talisman that’s supposed to make Lobster his slave, then he gets captured by Nazis and mobsters, but escapes to pursue the Nazis as they prepare to bomb New York City from a U-boat. A pretty cool underwater fight ensues between Lobster and a Nazi. Lobster realizes that the mystic talisman is actually a conventional explosive preparing to blow up, so he ties it to the sub and destroys it. A lengthy wrap up follows.

Verdict: Thumbs down. It just didn’t excite me the way the other issues did. This may be one of those stories where the end makes better sense when you read the entire thing together. But the ending is unexpectedly vague, and the “Iron Prometheus” of the title doesn’t really appear at all in this ish.

Comments off

Justice for All

Busy, busy, busy. Do I have time for some comics reviews? Yes, I think I do.


Justice Society of America #11

The “Kingdom Come” Superman is still around. He says his version of Earth has been destroyed. (It has? Has anyone told DC? I think they think it’s still around.) Power Girl is breaking up about being the last survivor of Earth-2. The rest of the team helps save the new Judomaster (a martial arts expert whose special power is that she can’t be hit by anyone) from a bunch of Yakuza super-assassins.

Verdict: Thumbs up. But that might be because I’m a fan of the team. No, not really the highest recommendation, is it?


Lobster Johnson #4

More pulp goodness from Mike Mignola. The evil Memnan Saa has a vril-powered dragon, and he hopes that an army of them will help him conquer the world. Jim Sacks is dead, but he was dead before — his vril-powered armor has empowered his spirit, and he strikes a near-deadly blow against Saa’s forces. Can Lobster Johnson get the good guys — and himself — out safely?

Verdict: Thumbs up. An enthusiastic thumbs up this time. I love pulp and horror, and Mignola may be the best pulp/horror writer the comics industry has ever seen.


Blue Beetle #21

First, let’s all enjoy an inappropriate giggle at that cover, okay?

As for the story, the Spectre, God’s own vengeful and extremely violent Spirit of Judgment, has taken up residence at a local prison, where he’s gorily slaughtering prisoners who were involved in a deadly prison riot. One of the prisoners is Luis, the guy who injured Jaime’s father, and if the guard who Luis attacked dies, the Spectre will kill him, too. Beetle can’t figure out how he’s supposed to stop an omnipotent spirit — both his father and his (secret) girlfriend Traci Thirteen advise him to forgive Luis and let go of his anger. But will something so simple be of any use against a horrific monster like the Spectre?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This issue wasn’t even written by regular writer John Rogers, but the characters of Jaime, his family, and friends are so well-established that the fill-in writer still does an excellent job. I’m not all that happy with the inclusion of the Spectre — any value he used to have as a character has pretty much disappeared. I could write a great deal more about the problems with the Spectre — and I will, later. Not today. Too busy.

Comments off

Light Meat vs. Dark Meat

No, we’re not talking about the turkey you’re gonna be shoving down your gullet tomorrow — we’re talking comics with light-hearted themes and comics that are wallowing in the bleak and horrific side of things. Let’s go with the light stuff first…


Captain Carrot and the Final Ark #2

Frogzilla’s back, and the Zoo Crew’s best chance of beating him lies with… Alley-Kat-Abra?! But isn’t she in prison for murder? Turns out that the evil wizard Feline Faust created an evil doppelganger of Alley, and she did all the bad stuff while the real Alley was trapped in a prison dimension. Umm, yes, sounds likely, ya think? Once Frogzilla is turned back into J. Fenimore Frog, the Zoo Crew head for the ocean depths to track the undersea terrorist Salamandroid. Unfortunately, it’s a trap, and the team is attacked by Starro the Conqueror’s face-hugging starfish. On top of that, Vicuna Pacos is revealed as the mad environmentalist immortal Rash Al Paca, and he has plans to flood the entire planet!

Verdict: Thumbs up. The art is wonderful, the puns are wonderful, the jokes are funny, and I’m still pretty happy with the story — though I gotta admit I’m worried about the conclusion next issue. This is a “Countdown” tie-in, and all the “Countdown” comics seem to be designed to be depressing and horrible. I hope this series bucks the trend.

Now for the dark stuff…


B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground #4

Okay, this one’s got more shocks than a toaster in a bathtub. Brace yerself, kids.

A bomb has blown up in Ben Daimo’s room, and the mysterious man who’s been stalking the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense’s compound… well, he stands there and lets Abe Sapien shoot a hole through his chest. What the heck did he want? We don’t have time to find out, because Daimo comes out of the bombed-out firestorm that used to be his quarters… and he’s turned into a nine-foot-tall ravening monster!

Liz Sherman goes catatonic while the sinister mastermind in her head tells her stories of armageddons. The Daimonster starts tearing soldiers apart until Johann Straus, wearing his superstrong body, shows up to beat the stuffing out of it. Unfortunately, the monster manages to rip Johann’s throat out. His body’s dying, but he’s really just a spirit inside of a body — his ectoplasm emerges and — wait a minute, that’s not Johann Strauss! That’s… Lobster Johnson! Then he runs into the infirmary and shoots Liz!

You are probably now asking yourself, “What is this amazing spicy sandwich I’m eating? What is this sammich with a kick like a mule and all the sweet, confusing joy in the universe crammed inside?” My friends, that is one of Mike Mignola’s signature OMGWTFBBQ sandwiches, and your taste buds will never be the same again.

Verdict: Thumbs up. No, I have no earthly idea what the heck was going on. But holy moley, what a ride! Is this Mike Mignola’s best year ever? And one more issue of this storyline to go? Do not miss out on this one, folks.

Comments off

Heaven and Hellboy


Hellboy: Darkness Calls #6

In the conclusion to the epic, Hellboy is still locked in combat with the immortal Koshchei the Deathless, lost in the world of Russian myth. Baba Yaga has Koshchei’s soul, and she’s powering him up by feeding him all the souls she’s stolen over the centuries. Will Hellboy be able to get away? And what are the faerie hordes planning on earth?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m not going to spoil this, but Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo have done a great job here. If you don’t have the previous issues, it’s likely that you’ll have a tough time finding them, so you might want to consider picking up the trade paperback that will eventually collect this whole story.


Lobster Johnson #3

More pulp goodness from Mike Mignola, this time with Jason Armstrong providing the artwork. Jim Sacks, the man in the iron supersuit, awakens to discover that his mentor and employer has been reduced to a talking brain in a tank — that Jim himself may actually be dead! And the evil Fu Manchu-esque villain has stolen the device that will allow him to harness vril, a naturally-occuring pseudo-mystical power source. Lobster Johnson busts in and starts wasting the evil doctor’s minions. And the doctor’s vril-powered servant, while fighting Mr. Sacks, transforms into a dragon-like monster!

Verdict: Thumbs up. I loves me some good weird pulp crime fiction.


Supergirl #23

It starts out interestingly enough, with Supergirl receiving a mysterious lead-lined package. When she opens it, she gets a phone call from Batman, who berates her for opening a package that might’ve included something deadly like Kryptonite. Then she gets a call from Superman to help the Green Lanterns track an enemy spaceship — to do so she has to fly about ten feet away from it, through space, and she has to hold her breath for two hours, but she has a teleporter that will take her back home, and she has to — well, way before this, it became almost complete gibberish. Why did they need Supergirl for this when they had Superman? Or some Green Lanterns?

Verdict: Thumbs down. Other than the dialogue between Supergirl and Batman at the beginning of the story, which was really amusing, this issue was an absolute pile of donkey dung.

Comments off

Friday Night Fights: Lobster Clawed!

Hully chee, it’s Friday night — isn’t there something we’re supposed to do on Friday nights? Oh, yeah! It’s Friday Night Fights!

From the recent second issue of “Lobster Johnson” by Mike Mignola and Jason Armstrong:


That’s Lobster Johnson getting his skull rattled by a guy with a giant metal claw in place of his arm.

Minor quibble: With a giant “KONG” sound effect, there really should be a giant monkey in this panel.

Bahlactus demands our gratuitously violent tribute!

Comments off