Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #1
Story by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by Tonci Zonjic
Colors by Dave Stewart
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: January 11, 2012
Cover Price: $3.50
There seems to be a formula that has to be followed in order to write a great noir comic. Mike Mignola and John Arcudi have figured out that formula in the latest installment of Lobster Johnson.
Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #1 introduces us to a Prohibition-era New York filled with murder, mystery, and the supernatural. Do not expect to find pages filled with guns blazing and swinging fists in Lobster Johnson #1. This issue is dedicated to story building, but successfully builds anticipation for future issues.
It may seem cliché but Lobster Johnson #1 has all the usual cast of characters required in any noir story. We are introduced to the veteran detective, the plucky reporter, and the brave mechanic all in the first issue. Mignola and Arcudi have established these characters early so that they can hopefully play a larger role in the future. Lobster Johnson makes an explosive appearance in this issue, but it is brief. The initial story plays out like opening credits. We are shown small pieces of a larger performance sure to come.
It’s difficult to say this was a great comic. Lobster Johnson is a great piece of noir writing, but fairly slow as far as Hellboy comics go. That’s not to say that Mignola and Arcudi have not captured the tone of the era. Lobster Johnson #1 showcases this writing team’s ability to craft a robust world with detailed characters.
Artist Tonci Zonjic immediately establishes a strong noir style for this series. Lines are boldly drawn with a hard black edge that is at home in noir comics. Lobster Johnson #1 strays away from the looser style of most Hellboy comics. Characters and places are illustrated with simple detail that never seems shaky. This style is fitting for a story that is more grounded in reality. Lobster Johnson #1 is dealing with real people so naturally the art should seem realistic to a degree. Zonjic has an incredible ability to draw everything from cruise ships to skyscrapers with realistic precision. Dave Stewart per usual finds the perfect color palette for this genre. Colors are subtle and dark and reflect the various moods put forth in this comic. It’s hard to believe that Dave Stewart is able to represent almost every tone that Mike Mignola and John Arcudi throw at him, yet somehow he does it with a style that is unique to the Hellboy franchise.
Lobster Johnson #1 begins the necessary steps in creating a great comic. Heroes are briefly introduced and villains begin to creep from the shadows. Though it is not the most action packed or exciting issue, it is a necessary installment. Lobster Johnson #1 is worth picking up solely if you are interested in following this latest Lobster Johnson run. There are few creative teams that can establish a fully fleshed out universe in one issue; however, Mike Mignola and his team of artists have managed to do it.