Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #1

Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by Tonci Zonjic
32 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse Comics

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Lobster Johnson comic. The pulp-inspired character first appeared as a ghost in Hellboy and B.P.R.D. comics, before getting stories of his own set back in the 1930s. With 2012 gearing up to be a big year for Mike Mignola’s various properties, it feels as good a time as any to see the return of Lobster Johnson. This time, though, the comic has the perfect addition of Tonci Zonjic on art.

Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand introduces a band of ghostly Indians into the world of the main character, scalping their victims left and right. Or are they ghostly Indians at all? While Lobster Johnson is there to fight them, it’s reporter Cindy Tynan who takes the center stage in this first issue, interviewing the locals about what’s going on and trying to figure out who and what are behind the killings.

With Lobster Johnson himself initially introduced as a ghost in the pages of Hellboy, it’s fun to see a ghost story in Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand where not all is what it initially seems. Lobster Johnson himself is more of a background character here too, and I found that decision from Mignola and John Arcudi works well. Lobster Johnson himself isn’t as interesting as Mignola’s other creations (Hellboy, Abe Sapien, the B.P.R.D., Witchfinder) aside from his borrowed shtick of stamping a lobster claw on people’s foreheads, so seeing Cindy Tynan take the lead makes this more interesting. We’re still in early stages of the story, so the bulk of the comic is her interviewing people, but watching her slowly unravel the goings-on is entertaining reading.

The big star here, though, is Zonjic’s art. His recent work on Who is Jake Ellis? and Heralds were both outstanding, and this comic is no exception. I adore his clean, open art; it reminds me a lot of the lake Edvin Biukovic, able to take minimal details and use its iconic nature to draw the reader in. A moment as simple as Lobster Johnson leaping through a window looks impressive; the gleam of his goggles as he launches himself toward the reader, a tumble across a horse with just the right amount of glass shards still in the air, and finally rolling back to his feet just in time to land two shots. It’s smooth and energetic, and it can’t help but excite. Zonjic is a superstar in the making, and once again he gives his all to the comic he’s working on.

Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #1 is a solid start to a mini-series. I feel like Mignola and Arcudi are doing the right thing by shifting the focus off of Lobster Johnson himself (while still making him an integral part of the comic), and letting a slightly more robust character take the lead. Perhaps more importantly, though, a new comic drawn by Zonjic is always reason to celebrate. The script is good, but it’s the art that has me already drooling for the next issue.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com | Powell’s Books

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