Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Mike Mignola, John Arcudi
Artist: Tonci Zonjic
Release Date: 25th May, 2016
Robots! Grenades! Mysterious Woman! Lobster! All but one of these things feature in the latest LJ arc from Messers Mignola and Arcudi.
This time round we’re thrown right in at the deep end from page one, with giant robots robbing a bank and LJ attempting to save the day. Some things to point out while we’re at it; Zonjic has perfectly captured the look and feel of what giant robots would look like if this was a pulp story from the actual era. They are giant, angular automatons like something straight out of War of the Worlds or Amazing Stories. It’s something that has always managed to be captured by the creative team on the series, they always manage to capture the feel and tone of the era. Mignola and Arcudi’s dialogue feels like it has been ripped from a radio play or newspaper strip, and Dave Stewart’s colour flattening gives an impressively old timey feeling to Tonci Zonjic’s clean and minimalist linework.
The meat of the story really is like something from a 40’s Sci-Fi book or strip, with Mignola and Arcudi perfectly capturing that sense of suspense in the action scenes, especially with the “Did it?/didn’t it?” moment early on. However, at the same time there’s also a sense of growth with the book; it still feels like with every arc characters are growing in there own little way. With the appearance of a mysterious woman as well, I can only guess where she is going to come into play (though no doubt I’m going to get a Tweet now, calling me out on the fact that she has featured in a previous issue and I’m just being thick).
The team has also managed to create a genuine sense of peril with the robots. They can’t be beaten, they destroyed everything in their path, and they are, seemingly, unstoppable. A strange thing happened when I got to the end of the issue; I looked for more. To explain: the cliffhanger was so sudden, I actually was left with a sense that there must have been some mistake an it couldn’t have ended there! That doesn’t often happen, and I can only commend/loathe the writers for the execution.
Zonjic’s art is a breath of fresh air here, not just with regards to the rest of the series, but within the industry as a whole. Mignola really does know how to pick them with all of his properties, with Zonjic’s the style perfectly fitting into the BPRD/Hellboy universe. It’s a beautiful thing these days to have work that is so onomatopoeic (favourite word of the day, right there) that it is littered all over the page during action scenes that you can’t help but smile when there’s an entire panel dedicated to “BOOM!”
In a world currently obsessed with Capes and Cowls, it’s refreshing to have a a pulp Sci-Fi book where the hero isn’t perfect, and doesn’t always win. If you manage to get to the end of this one without a grin on your face, or wanting the next issue straight away, then there must be something wrong with you.