In 1993, Mike Mignola created Hellboy and later, the B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense), but he didn’t stop there, expanding the Hellboy mythos and with it, the Hellboy universe through an ongoing monthly series for both Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. With Dark Horse Comics as the home for the Hellboy universe, secondary, supporting characters have received their own spin-off series, including, most recently, Lobster Johnson, a pulp adventure-era costumed vigilante. Johnson made his first appearance in 1999, but didn’t get his own series until 2007. Since then, he’s appeared in no less than five additional series or one-shots, including Lobster Johnson: The Scent of Lotus, the first issue of a two-parter.
The Scent of Lotus #1 opens with a familiar, if not entirely unwelcome, scene – the titular character, Lobster Johnson, racing across a rooftop in pursuit of his prey. While his associates on the ground keep him apprised of developments via radio receiver (it’s the 1930s, after all), Johnson suspends his pursuit when he comes across a murdered Chinese courier. While he listens in from his rooftop perch, a girl reporter, Cindy (and Johnson ally), quizzes a couple of detectives about the crime. We soon learn the courier worked for the Chinese mob (tongs), but that connection did little to prevent his death to his superiors’ as yet unknown competitors for the underworld dollar.
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.