Lobster Johnson

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The Lobster
Lobster Johnson.jpg
The Lobster
Publication information
Publisher Dark Horse Comics
First appearance Hellboy: Box of Evil #1
Created by Mike Mignola

Lobster Johnson the commonly used named for the Lobster, a fictional character featured in the Hellboy and Bureau For Paranormal Research and Defense comic books published by Dark Horse Comics. He was created by Mike Mignola.

Within the Hellboy universe, the Lobster was a vigilante who worked in secret in New York City during the 1930s. Although the public believes that the Lobster was only the hero of pulp serials and comics, he was a real man who faced gangsters as well as paranormal threats. The Lobster had a reputation for violence, such as killing mobsters and burning his trademark lobster claw symbol into their foreheads with the palm of his gloved hand. This behavior was similar to the Marvel UK pulp character Night Raven, and the pulp magazine hero The Spider.

Fictional Biography[edit]

Life and Death[edit]

The Lobster started his career in 1932, working with a small but trusted group of allies out of a secret base in the sewers of New York City. Together they fought against gangsters, spies, and the like (Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand). In 1937 the gang came up against one of their most imposing enemies to date - the inscrutable and immeasurably powerful Memnan Saa, during the case of the Iron Prometheus. (Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus) Though the Lobster and his allies escaped the confrontation with their lives, tragedy dogged them thereafter as they continued to research his crimes and history. One by one, the Lobster's allies met various gruesome and mysterious ends, until the Lobster called off the search. The deaths seemed to weigh heavy on his conscience - always a quiet man, he became increasingly cold and taciturn. Not long after this, he accepted an offer of employment from the United States Government, a chance to lay some ghosts to rest. (BPRD: The Black Goddess)

Aided by a new sidekick, the Lobster spent the late 1930s combating the Nazi threat to the United States. One of his unsuccessful missions involved the escape of a Nazi criminal in Colorado who destroyed a train full of scientists bound for The Manhattan Project, resulting in the death of his sidekick. (BPRD: Night Train)

the Lobster's final mission was an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the Nazis from launching a space capsule at Hunte Castle, Austria on 20 March 1939. Arriving seconds too late to stop the launch itself, he managed to force the roof of Hunte Castle closed, but the capsule burst through regardless. The subsequent explosion and fire completely gutted the castle. Besides Nazi scientist Herman von Klempt and one German soldier, there were no survivors, including the Lobster himself. (Hellboy: Conqueror Worm)

Legacy[edit]

According to B.P.R.D. Director Tom Manning (in The Conqueror Worm), Lobster Johnson was a fictional character created in the pulp magazines and made briefly popular in a couple of movies such as The Phantom Jungle (Republic, 1945), in which he was portrayed by Vic Williams.[1] In the backup materials of The Iron Prometheus, we learn of his appearances in pulp magazines, comic books, movie serials, and masked Mexican wrestling movies. It's revealed that the character is properly called "The Lobster". "Johnson" was the last name of his alter ego, crippled millionaire William Johnson, created by the author of the pulp stories. It was the masked Mexican wrestling movies that combined the names as "Lobster Johnson".

"Latchkey Memories from Crab Point" is a memoir by Guy Davis, presented in the back matter to the B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess trade paperback, in which he recounts childhood memories of seeing "the cut-up and dubbed version of the Mexican Lobster Johnson films!" presented on children's after-school television as a black-and-white serial called The Masked Claw. [2]

Afterlife[edit]

Death was not the end for the Lobster. The Lobster's ghost was one of the strongest yet seen in the Hellboy universe. He was completely corporeal when he chose to be, firing his pistol with deadly effect and burning his sign into the forehead of his victims. It would appear that the Lobster's death greatly increased his powers, as opposed to the Ghost of Rasputin, who was rendered almost immaterial by his death at Abe Sapien's hands.

In 2001, Hellboy (a lifelong Lobster fan) and Roger the homunculus encountered his ghost in the haunted ruins of Hunte Castle, beginning a long association between the Lobster and the BPRD, and with Roger and Johann Kraus in particular. The Lobster was instrumental in helping them defeat Rasputin, the Conqueror Worm and Hermann von Klempt, completing in death the mission he had failed to do in life. (Hellboy: Conqueror Worm)

Having seemingly formed some bond with Roger during the mission, it was to the homunculus that he next appeared, when in 2003 he helped Roger and Liz Sherman resolve another of his failed missions - bringing to justice the elderly German saboteur in Colorado. (BPRD: Night Train). The Lobster was quiet for some time after this, although his ghostly presence was half-felt by Johann several times in the basement of the BPRD's new WWII-era base in the Colorado mountains. (BPRD: Garden of Souls)

It was not until his old adversary Memnan Saa began to make his presence felt to the BPRD during the war against Sadu Hem's frog monsters that he returned in earnest; briefly taking possession of Johann's ectoplasm in the wake of Ben Daimio's disastrous end of relations with the team to break the hold Saa had gained over Liz. (BPRD: Killing Ground) With something of his past association with Saa thus revealed, the team held a séance not long afterwards in which his spirit gave them their first clues in the search for Saa, using the information he had uncovered decades before in his investigations. (BPRD: The Warning) When the BPRD finally traced Saa to his base somewhere on the Stanovoy Ridge, the Lobster again took possession of Johann's form in the closing moments of the denouement in an attempt to defeat his old nemesis. (BPRD: The Black Goddess) With all his business on earth thus concluded, Kate took him back to Hunte Castle in Austria, where he relinquished his hold on Johann's ectoplasm and rejoined the ghostly throng inhabiting the castle - having found his own sort of peace in an afterlife where he could continue his battle against Nazis and the forces of evil forever after. (BPRD: King of Fear)

Publication History[edit]

Issues[edit]

Lobster Johnson has an internal numbering on the inside cover of its issues.

Issue Title Date Story Art Colors Cover Collection
#1 The Iron Prometheus 5 September 2007 Mike Mignola Jason Armstrong Dave Stewart Mike Mignola
  • Lobster Johnson - Volume 1:
    The Iron Prometheus
#2 3 October 2007
#3 7 November 2007
#4 5 December 2007
#5 2 January 2008
#6 The Burning Hand 11 January 2012 Mike Mignola
and John Arcudi
Tonči Zonjić Dave Stewart Dave Johnson
Mike Mignola (variant)
  • Lobster Johnson - Volume 2:
    The Burning Hand
#7 8 February 2012 Dave Johnson
#8 14 March 2012
#9 11 April 2012 Dave Johnson
Mike Mignola (variant)
#10 9 May 2012 Dave Johnson
#11 The Prayer of Neferu 22 August 2012 Mike Mignola
and John Arcudi
Wilfredo Torres Dave Stewart Tonči Zonjić
  • Lobster Johnson - Volume 3:
    Satan Smells a Rat
#12 Caput Mortuum 19 September 2012 Mike Mignola
and John Arcudi
Tonči Zonjić Dave Stewart Tonči Zonjić
#13 Satan Smells a Rat 22 May 2013 Mike Mignola
and John Arcudi
Kevin Nowlan
#14 A Scent of Lotus 24 July 2013 Mike Mignola
and John Arcudi
Sebastián Fiumara Dave Stewart Tonči Zonjić
#15 21 August 2013
#16 Get the Lobster 5 February 2014 Mike Mignola
and John Arcudi
Tonči Zonjić Dave Stewart Tonči Zonjić
  • Lobster Johnson - Volume 4:
    Get the Lobster
#17 5 March 2014
#18 2 April 2014
#19 4 June 2014
#20 2 July 2014

Trade Paperbacks[edit]

Number Title Collects Published ISBN
1 Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus 18 June 2008 ISBN 9781593079758
2 Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand
  • The Burning Hand
    (5-issue miniseries)
14 November 2012 ISBN 9781616550318
3 Lobster Johnson: Satan Smells a Rat
  • Caput Mortuum
    (one shot)
  • Satan Smells a Rat
    (one shot)
  • Tony Masso’s Finest Hour
    (short story)
  • A Scent of Lotus
    (2-issue miniseries)
  • The Prayer of Neferu
    (one shot)
12 February 2014 ISBN 9781616551995
4 Lobster Johnson: Get the Lobster
  • Get the Lobster
    (5-issue miniseries)
23 December 2014 ISBN 9781616551995

Appearances outside the Lobster Johnson series[edit]

Other media[edit]

  • In 2005, Lobster Johnson was part of the first Hellboy comic action figure line from Mezco Toyz.[3] A clear plastic version of the toy was released as a convention exclusive at the San Diego Comicon. It was called "the Ghost of Lobster Johnson".
  • Lobster Johnson does not appear in Hellboy II: The Golden Army due to Mike Mignola's wish to remain true to the character's origin. Guillermo del Toro has, however, stated that Johnson may appear in Hellboy III and that he wants Bruce Campbell to play him.[4] Johnson has a brief cameo in the second animated Hellboy film, Blood and Iron appearing during a flashback scene showing Hellboy's birth and Malcome Frost's reaction to the creature. After the credits there is a teaser for the still unproduced third film The Phantom Claw, where he will assist Hellboy and Kate Corrigan in battling the ghost of Rasputin.
  • In 2007, Dark Horse produced a magnet that bore Lobster Johnson's animated design, based on his brief appearance in 'Blood and Iron.[5]
  • The Lobster's original novel, Lobster Johnson: The Satan Factory by Thomas E. Sniegoski was released in July 2009.

References[edit]

External links[edit]