“LOBSTER JOHNSON: THE GLASS MANTIS” (Comic Book Review)Book and Comic Reviews,Books/Art/Culture,News Svetlana Fedotov
With the Mignola-driven universe getting bigger every year, it’s no surprise that the ‘comic-inside-a-comic’ Lobster Johnson would, well, get its own comic! While THE GLASS MANTIS is not the Lobster’s first foray into our world, the newest release continues to prove that 1930’s super-spy, supernatural, superheroes never go out of style. This one-shot follows our hero as he goes up against murder most foul at a museum opening against a backdrop of secrets and revenge. A wonderful homage to early pulp mysteries with just enough spectral chaos to appeal to armchair horror fans, THE GLASS MANTIS fits perfectly in and out of the HELLBOY world.
The comic opens up a grandiose glass exhibit opening attended by the elite of the art world. As the creator of the pieces steps up to the podium, he is immediately shot by a mysterious woman in red. The woman drops her gun and allows for the police to take her away; a seemingly open and shut case. Little do the police know that not only did she not shoot the real artist, he was a stand-in by the FBI and was wearing a bullet proof vest! But is the artist they were protecting even who he says he is? Crosses and double crosses are abound in the museum as Lobster Johnson chases after the mysterious woman, only to learn she isn’t who she says she is either! What a twist! Will the Lobster ever get to the bottom of this bizarre case and what exactly is so special about the Glass Mantis?
If this comic sounds like a mess of a whodunit’s and fast-talking-high-pants, it is honestly less confusing than this description makes it sound. In fact, it rounds out very well, and while it may not be as heavy on the ghostly angle as HELLBOY, it’s still a satisfying read for the well-read enthusiast. There’s enough action to keep the excitement going while being a fun insight into what influenced young Hellboy to be the tough action bastard that he is today.
The only complaint is perhaps the single shot format; THE GLASS MANTIS feels like the story had a lot of good ideas and different angles it wanted to go with but with such a limited format, this one-off cut short from having a fully fleshed out story. Everything was set up and revealed too quickly to really let the story set in, but for what it does, it does it well.
As per usual, the comic is penned by Mike Mignola, who shares his writing duties with longtime creative partner John Arcudi, who is known for doing a ton of work on BPRD. The team put its heads together once again and came out with another work worthy of their names. Era-appropriate speech show the attention to detail that they are famous for and the mystical plot solidify their already immense presence in the horror and supernatural industry.
On the other hand, this is the artists’, Tony Fejzula, first time working with power duo and is himself a relative new-comer onto the comic scene, with previous credits going to his work on Veil with Greg Rucka. His industry inexperience does not get in the way of his creative experience though and his sharp art and soft watercolor pallet plays wonderfully with the script. He’s got a great technical and clothing eye as well, creating a very fleshed out image of 1930’s espionage. For his short time on planet comics, he has some amazing skills to offer. LOBSTER JOHNSON: THE GLASS MANTIS is a solid companion to the growing HELLBOY mythos and will be hitting shelves from Dark Horse Comics on December 30th.