Lobster Johnson, Volume 2: The Burning Hand Review - Mike Mignola

rating: 2.5

If you€™re a fan of Mike Mignola€™s, you€™ll know he puts out an impressive amount of high quality comic books each year. From Hellboy to the BPRD to Witchfinder to Abe Sapien and assorted collections and spinoffs, you€™re never too far away from a release by Mignola and his team of writers and artists. But with an increased volume of output inevitably comes a falling in quality and such is the case with the second Lobster Johnson book, The Burning Hand. Set in the 1930s with the Depression and bootlegging in full swing (America must€™ve been a fun place to live in those days, eh?), a mob boss is hiring thugs to dress up as ghosties to scare people out of neighbourhoods, drive land prices down, then buy them up and sell them on for a profit. Sounds a bit like a Scooby-Doo cartoon, no? Anyway our brilliantly named hero Lobster Johnson is on the case to stop the evil mobster who has hired a nefarious German to aid him, known as the Black Flame. Readers of BPRD will recognise this character from that series where he popped up in Vol 5: The Black Flame and the final book in the first BPRD cycle, Vol 14: King of Fear. The Burning Hand is his first encounter with Lobster Johnson, a rivalry that will continue for decades to come. The biggest failing of this book is the realisation that Lobster Johnson isn€™t that brilliant a character. Not that any of the others in the book are particularly inspired, but Lobster doesn€™t seem to have a personality or any facial expressions besides his usual blank look, which isn€™t helped by constantly wearing goggles that conceal his eyes. He guns down the baddies then brands them with a lobster claw on their heads but otherwise it€™s hard to see his appeal €“ he€™s gone from being a mysterious and even mythical figure in the Hellboy books to your run-of-the-mill vigilante in this. He wouldn€™t be amiss in Watchmen as one of the Minutemen nobody remembers. Pretty much everything about this book is mediocre: the story, the art, the plotting. It€™s especially unimpressive given Mignola€™s past successes, even comparatively to The Iron Prometheus. That said if you€™re a fan of hard-boiled crime fiction like Cain and Hammett, you might get a kick out of this comic. The Burning Hand is a forgettable adventure that only some Mignola fans will be picking up; unfortunately there isn€™t enough here to recommend it wholeheartedly.
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I reads and watches thems picture stories. Wordy words follow. My blog is http://samquixote.blogspot.co.uk , and if you want to see all the various places I contribute to, or want to send me a message, you can find links to everything here: http://about.me/noelthorne/#