It’s rare to fine a story that’s compressed down to a short length in comics these days; more often than not, we get stories that overstay their welcome. In the case of “Lobster Johnson: The Glass Mantis,” however, we end up with the exact opposite. Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and Toni Fejzula’s comic will make readers wish it had been two issues, not one.
The premise is a good one; glassblower Enis Buyuk has come from Turkey with an exhibition of his works, only to become the target of an assassination attempt. Even as the fallen Buyuk is revealed to be a decoy to protect the real Buyuk, the mystery of the inferior items in the exhibit and additional double-crosses still lie ahead. Mignola and Arcudi’s story moves at an extremely brisk pace, with twists and surprises hitting on almost every single page. At times, it feels like it’s almost too fast. Every time there’s another surprise, the reader barely has time to digest it before the next one rolls around. With some of these surprises involving the characters’ motivations, that’s actually a bit of a downside; you haven’t gotten to know someone before they switch sides. The end result is that it’s missing a greater amount of the impact than would otherwise be present.
Fejzula’s art was distinctive and somewhat unique on the “Veil” miniseries, and that continues here in “Lobster Johnson: The Glass Mantis.” I love how the characters have rounded faces but angular shadows cast onto them, and little moments — like the shadows under the eyes of the driver looking almost like a domino mask — will make you gasp in delight. Fejzula’s colors are as much a part of the art as his lines; the purplish sky over the museum almost overshadows the careful, beautiful architecture on display. The way the sky subtly shifts in color looks realistic and eye-catching and meshes well with the overall look of the book. Similarly, the green hues used with the supernatural elements (which also would have benefited from a longer lead-in) stand out in part because they’re so different than any other colors we’ve seen up until that point.
“Lobster Johnson: The Glass Mantis” is a good book, but I wish it had been longer, because that could have turned it into a great book. Mignola and Arcudi’s story had enough plot to warrant that extra space, and getting more pages from Fejzula would have been another bonus. Still, even as a one-shot, fans of “Lobster Johnson” comics won’t be disappointed.