Mike Mignola and crew take us back to 1936 for another installment in the escapades of Lobster Johnson, the shadowy, hard-hitting vigilante spawned from the Hellboy Universe. This time, he must take on a trio of giant robots wreaking havoc on Manhattan — easier said than done, it turns out, as even his most high-powered artillery can’t phase the titanium titans. In lieu of using brute force (Lobster’s preferred method of dealing with baddies), he, along with his capable team, must take to the streets to unravel the mystery behind this mechanical menace.
Returning artist Tonci Zonjic’s drawing style perfectly fits the period setting, imbuing the story with an authentic old-fashioned flair. In particular, I appreciated his versatile and liberal use of emphatic sound effects, with plenty of well-placed BLAM!’s and KRASH!’s. The giant robots are also really cool: big, clunky, steampunk-inspired beasts that look more like light fixtures with appendages than anthropomorphic automatons. Colorist Dave Stewart compliments the artwork with characteristically tasteful hues, resulting in a read that’s not only intriguing story-wise, but pleasing to the eye.
Woven throughout the principle storyline is a side plot involving a well-to-do woman who seems excessively agitated as she listens to Cindy Tynan’s live reporting of the robot attack over the radio. Later, during the Lobster’s second encounter with the mammoth machines, we follow her from her upscale Manhattan apartment to a rundown part of town, where, wielding a revolver, she enters an unassuming shack. A moment later, a shot rings out; simultaneously, the robot that Lobster is straddling goes down cold. Clearly there’s a connection – but what could it possibly be?
Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown #1, Dark Horse Comics, released May 25, 2016, written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, art by Tonci Zonjic, colors by Dave Stewart, letters by Clem Robins, cover by Tonci Zonjic, $3.50
Review by James Florence