“Lobster Johnson: The Prayer of Neferu” is a gripping action yarn built atop a layered stack of pulpy ideas and tropes that add up and pay off succinctly in this one-shot. The unveiling of an Egyptian relic begins a flow of events that see Lobster Johnson play the intrepid hero as quickly as he does the resourceful victim. The narrative moves quickly but it doesn’t leave anything out or behind. This is a tight tale with a set up, a major problem and a very kinetic finale.
Lobster Johnson first appears walking away from one victim and returns a few pages later toting his gun and firing into the crowd of high society ne’er-do-wells. This hero is not to be trifled with. However, it is his gung ho attitude that leads him into one main problem: he hasn’t thought through the next step of his plan, especially when it turns sour. It is nice to see the course of the story not run linear and instead make the hero need to swerve and think on his feet – or while hanging from his chained wrists.
There is a lot of action in this issue even beside the bullet storm that is Lobster Johnson’s introduction to the main sequence. A large henchman wields a heavy stone hammer and nearly bashes the page in half trying to crush Lobster. When he finally makes contact, Wilfredo Torres finds an interesting and visually arresting way to show the descent into the darkness of unconsciousness. Such experimentation is fantastic to see, especially when pulled off so very successfully.
Wilfredo Torres isn’t afraid to make his action swift and specific. Each blow, both successful and attempted, is a rush to engage with. The sequence of Lobster stabbing someone is presented in a dynamic way that forced me to slow down and feel the blade piercing the flesh. It is an interesting style experiment in the storytelling phase of the book and it’s definitely a positive for a silent action beat.
“Lobster Johnson: The Prayer of Neferu” is just like all the old and great short stories from decades ago. The strangeness is set up and then continues to escalate until our hero is backed into the tightest corner available. From there, anything can happen and usually gleefully does. This lurid one-shot does exactly what it needs to, then a little more, and finally it smartly wraps up. Let’s all have more of these.