Monday, March 29, 2010

Lobster Johnson

Lobster Johnson is like the visual equivalent of Lucifer Box in Mark Gatiss’ books; it’s that era, lovingly recreated by aficionados, though no two heroes—Box and the Lobster—could be more different. Box was effete, clever, a man of many words and sensual tastes, tough when the going got rough, though—the Lobster is mysterious, a man of few words, and the words he has are mostly trite. He’s a man of action: marking the victims upon whom he wreaks justice with a branding claw. Again, as you might expect, it’s very Indiana Jones, but I enjoyed it. It has smaller ambitions than Hellboy, without losing all the occult stuff, which suits me just fine.
I like Jason Armstrong’s style of art; it reminds me of Dan McDaid. The fact that vril is at the heart of the storyline tickles me. More evil Nazis abound as do apes; parts of this seem to anticipate “Silence in the Library.” Though Mignola is consciously making an effort to pay tribute to “yellow peril,” it comes uncomfortably close to being played straight rather than subverting. I’d be interested in seeing where this is going and what plans Mignola has for Lobster Johnson.
And now for something completely different.

The Umbrella Academy is a really strange one. It made me think of Arthur C Clarke at first, but then it went off in some strange directions indeed, and it’s been hard for me to wrap my head around it. It involves a genius in the future plucking seven strangely-birthed children and raising them to their full, superhero-esque, potential. The narrative jumps, though, and we see the consequences of these children some twenty years later, rather than their (probably) X-Men-like upbringing. One of them went into the future and got stuck there and is still a child. One of them went to the moon and became known as Spaceboy. One of them got married and raised a family. One became a crime-fighter by profession, one is a weird sort of junkie. The final one didn’t have any specific talent, other than playing the violin. She is presented as the villain of this piece for whom there is no redemption. Which seems a little harsh, considering the author is in My Chemical Romance.

Gabriel Ba’s art is interesting and ultra-modern, but I must say I prefer James Jean’s covers. I think what I like best is the chimp named Pongo.

Yet again with the apes.

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