Picking up, as you might expect, where “Lobster Johnson: A Scent of Lotus” #1 left off, issue #2 brings a swift close to this short story. As a fan of the pulp stories that inspired the character of Lobster Johnson, I can’t take too much issue with how quickly things get wrapped up — the pulps were rife with hurried writing, easy escapes and fake cliffhangers. Nevertheless, “A Scent of Lotus” #2 doesn’t pack quite the punch that the first issue did, as it rushes to wrap up all the threads left dangling in #1.
The book moves quickly to its conclusion, and yes, readers do eventually learn what’s up with the mysterious killings of Tong couriers in the Chinatown streets. In fact, it’s all laid out directly by the criminal boss who might normally be a target for Lobster Johnson’s one-sided, two-fisted approach to justice, but here is treated as a pal. The story behind the murders is an interesting twist. It keeps with the low-magic approach to the supernatural seen in issue #1, as the killings are politically driven as opposed to being part of some wicked ritual or spell. In addition, it’s nice to see a comic that sets its Chinese characters — even Chinese gangsters — as the good guys and the Japanese as the bad guys, which is a rarity in a pop culture that reveres Japanese warrior culture as the epitome of cool.
This is all not to say that the comic’s without action or that it’s not a good read. But it does suffer from trying to fit so much into a little space. The action scenes are a bit confused, as they try to fit a lot of moments into only a page or two, which ends up making them feel jumpy. The other plot thread — the cop who’s chasing Lobster Johnson and his sidekick Harry McTell, and the lady reporter who’s caught among them all — is wrapped up just as quickly as the Tong-killing mystery, and in more or less the same manner of people talking to each other and explaining themselves.
Sebastian Fiumara’s art is just as good as last time, though, which is a lovely thing to see. He’s a master of body language, and constantly conveys loads of emotion and drama through a person’s stance. There are some lovely action panels, often involving the villain’s evil masked gun-monkeys (I use that term literally). Fiumara is very well suited for drawing people running, jumping, and punching; these things always have weight and reality to them, which helps when you’re drawing a leather-clad lobster man fighting monkeys. Dave Stewart’s coloring is just as lively as before, with plenty of reds to set against the mud-washed streets of Chinatown, and a lot of attention paid to lighting.
Overall, even if “Lobster Johnson: A Scent of Lotus” #2 doesn’t quite live up to the promise of its first half, it’s still a solidly-written and very well-drawn comic that fits plenty of fun into its pages. I think it would have done well to be expanded to a full mini-series, with a bit more complexity added to its stories, but even as a little two-parter it achieves a lot.