In 1999, during the publication of the miniseries Box Full of Evil, Mike Mignola ran a back-up feature titled "The Killer in My Skull," which introduced the character of Lobster Johnson. Drawn by Matt Smith (who is rumored to have helped with the visual design of the Lobster), the short is pure B-movie camp, with the 1930s hero facing off against a living brain whose murder m.o. is to crush his enemies with furniture.
Beware my claw, for I've come to inflict justice.
Lobster Johnson proved an immediate hit with fans.
Despite having died on a mission to Hunte Castle in Austria in 1939, he popped up in the next Hellboy miniseries, Conqueror Worm, in a rather baffling role. From then on he appeared in a few BPRD one-shots as well as John Cassaday's bizarre "Sunday Comic" serial, which was collected in BPRD: The Soul of Venice and Other Stories. Lobster Johnson is one of Mignola's favorite characters (the artist specifically requested his inclusion in the first wave of action figures) and his future looks bright, as Mignola is planning at least one LoJo miniseries.
But who is Lobster Johnson? He's a 1930s "superhero," something of a Batman-type, since he doesn't appear to have any super powers (his main weapon is a Colt M1911) and has a pathological fervor for justice - and hatred of Nazis.
(After LoJo has just shot some Nazis)
Roger: Justice? You call that justice? I saw you shoot those two men with no warning, no -
Lobster: Not men, dogs... mad dogs. No better, no different than a hundred others I've killed in my time.
- Hellboy: Conqueror Worm
Apparently in Hellboy's world, "the Lobster" gained notoriety when a number of mobsters turned up dead with a lobster's claw branded into their foreheads. This led to a number of 1930s B-movies based on the character, but it is the official position of the United States government that there was no Lobster Johnson. And since everyone knows that the U.S. government always tells the truth...
Lobster Johnson's outfit is reminiscent of any number of 1930s pulp heroes, but with the aviator goggles, jacket and pants, the one he brings to my mind is Dave Stevens's Rocketeer. Lobster Johnson is never seen flying any planes, but it sure looks like he's ready to.
Like the rest of Mezco's Hellboy line, LoJo was sculpted by Dave Cortes,
the man behind many of OAFE's favorite action figures. As with the Hellboy figure, Cortes has managed to capture Mignola's art style while still keeping that slight touch of three-dimensional realism necessary to make the character work as an action figure. Like the rest of the line, one of the highlights here is the texture: LoJo has a rough, weathered feel, and even has the little lines Mignola draws on the character's face.
Fortunately, the paint applications hold up to the high quality of the sculpting. Most of the figure is just a bluish black hue, but there seems to be a slight wash, and the bright orange of his goggles and the lobster's claw in his left hand (perfect for branding dead mobsters and Nazis).
LoJo has balljoints at the head, shoulders, wrists, hips, and chest; pin joints at the elbows, knees and ankles; and swivel joints at the biceps, thighs and waist. It's more than enough for a figure like this (but not too much), and I've had no trouble getting the figure to stand on its own.
Lobster Johnson came with two accessories: his pistol and the brain of Stanley Corn, the titular villain in "Killer in My Skull." The brain's spinal stem is bendy, so if you wind the bottom properly it can even stand on its own. The pistol fits into the holster on LoJo's right hip.
Like the rest of the Hellboy line, Lobster Johnson ran about $10-$12 at retail, and since he seems to have been the line's pegwarmer, you can still find him at many specialty shops and online at Mezco Direct and other stores.
I find I don't have much else to say about Lobster Johnson - perhaps because, so far, he's an underdeveloped character.
Photos courtesy of Bluesparrow. Visit his action figure blog at Neon Batman.
How many unsold LoJos would you trade to get a Kriegaffe? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.