The new “Lobster Johnson: Get the Lobster” mini-series promises big changes to the character and his surroundings. That’s a good thing, because while the occasional occult-meets-pulp “Lobster Johnson” story is fun, eventually some sort of forward momentum needs to occur. But with “Lobster Johnson: Get the Lobster” #1, it’s not Mike Mignola and John Arcudi’s story that serves as the primary lure, but rather Tonci Zonjic’s fantastic art.
The story is fairly straightforward, as a boxing match between the Russian Bear and the Devil Dwarf turns into mayhem and destruction on the streets, even as Harry continues to enter deeper into Lobster Johnson’s network and Cindy’s article about Lobster Johnson hits the newspapers. It’s a good enough opening chapter, but at the same time it feels like Mignola and Arcudi are working on getting all of the plates spinning before something larger occurs. With different characters circling around the outskirts, waiting to strike, the writing serves as transitory but not exciting.
Zonjic’s crisp, clean art continues to look amazing. Look at the bottom two panels of page 5, for example. When the Russian Bear holds up the Devil Dwarf in the ring, it’s a near-perfect panel. Zonjic sets up the action so that your eyes move from the upper left to the lower right of the panel; starting on the Devil Dwarf, then sliding down the diagonal to the Russian Bear’s arm and into his massive torso. It’s there that you stop and drink in the enormity of the character, with his wild eyes and hair everywhere. But at the same time, your eyes resume moving in that diagonal direction to the bottom right, sliding down the Russian Bear’s leg to where the referee’s body is slumped against him. It’s mapped out perfectly.
Zonjic does it again on the next panel, where we have a large crowd of people all reacting the events up in the ring. It would be easy for a police officer to get lost in the shuffle without fading the other characters out in some manner, but neither Zonjic nor colorist Dave Stewart does that. Instead he jumps out by his positioning; framed in the center right of the panel, it’s where your eye will move as you continue across the page. If your eye slides too far down, the character in the bottom right corner’s hat actually leads you back up to the officer, a nice touch.
“Lobster Johnson: Get the Lobster” #1 looks fantastic thanks to Zonjic, and that’s the draw for now. Based on past performance I have no doubt that Mignola and Arcudi will pick up the pace and in a good way. They’ve done more than enough good comics together, after all. But with this slightly slow set-up, it’s watching Devil Dwarf get thrown through the air that works, not his “Hee hee!” cries. Zonjic saves the day, here.