Review – Lobster Johnson Vol 3 – Satan Smells a Rat TP (Dark Horse)

19511Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Mike Mignola, John Arcudi
Artist: Kevin Nowlan, Sebastián Fiumara, Wilfredo Torres, Tonci Zonjic, Joe Querio
Release Date: 12th February 2014

The Lobster – or Lobster Johnson to his fans – is a gun toting mystery man prowling the mean streets of 30s New York. Any bad guy fortunate enough to survive a run in with Lobster will forever bear his mark: a brand on their forehead of the lobster’s claw.

Long a fan favourite of the Hellboy universe, Lobster Johnson is a sort of throwback to old pulp heroes like The Green Hornet, The Spirit and The Shadow. This collection, comprised of three one-shots, a short and a two part story, embraces the spirit of these characters while giving them a contemporary sheen; much like the Indiana Jones films did in the 1980s. As a result this book is packed with all sorts of period specific material such as Nazis, airships and brutish gangsters. Likewise the fascination with exoticism common in 30s genre fiction is covered as well with a Japanese witch and the reincarnation of an Egyptian priestess appearing – although handled with more sensitivity than most stories written in the 30s.

 While the stories are fast paced, punchy and action packed they are a bit too short to feel really substantial. There’s no growth or change in any of the characters and things move so quickly that stories feel like they’re made up almost entirely of action beats. Still, the action is a lot of fun and anything containing a fist fight on the side of a Zeppelin and magical gun wielding monkeys is worth a look.

 The artwork throughout the book is of a very high standard. Each story is drawn by a different artist who brings their own distinct style to the table. It’s just a shame that they don’t get more pages to play with and show off their qualities more, the variety of the art is great on one hand but on the other it really stresses the lack of an overarching story.

 With its collection of brief, compact stories Satan Smells a Rat comes across as a great EP rather than a classic album. It’s full of mad, pulpy ideas and jam packed with well-staged action sequences; fun and thrilling but just a little bit lightweight.

Rating: 4/5.

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The writer of this piece was: Joe Morrison
Joe is Freelance film journalist based in Glasgow.
You can also find Joe on Twitter.

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