[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
Hellboy is settling in for a night at the B.P.R.D. headquarters when he and an associate catch movie on the television: Lobster Johnson and the Ring of Death. As it turns out, Hellboy starred in this movie, and he watches it all the way through. In the follow-up story, we see what starring in Lobster Johnson and the Ring of Death was like for Hellboy.
Hellboy vs. Lobster Johnson #1 is a one-off story that gives us a run-in between the titular characters: B.P.R.D. Agent Hellboy and masked luchador hero Lobster Johnson.
The majority of the comic consists of the Lobster Johnson and the Ring of Death film, which plays out like in the style of Mexican luchador movies of decades past. It’s a corny pseudo-superhero tale where Lobster Johnson must save a village from a cult led by the devil himself (played by Hellboy).
It’s a fun homage to that lost genre of movies, and it plays like something you’d see on Mystery Science Theater 3000. There’s a particularly good gimmick where the same shot of the devil/Hellboy is used on multiple pages, and there are panels where you can tell there is a stand-in for Hellboy and not the genuine article.
The backup explains some of the quirks of the movie too, and most of them are due to alcohol consumption on Hellboy’s part.
Mike Norton’s looks good and serves the conceit well. The framing and shadow-work emphasizes the low-fi aspects of the movie, and Hellboy himself still looks quite imposing. Paul Grist’s work in the back-up story shows a different side of Hellboy where he’s more sleight and slouching–again mostly due to the alcohol. Dave Stewart and Bill Crabtree provide the color art in the first and second stories respectively, and the do damn good job of keeping the palette lively.
Hellboy vs. Lobster Johnson #1 is a fun aside for the Hellboy and B.P.R.D. universe, and the camp references of the Ring of Death movie give the comic an enjoyably nostalgic vibe. It may not be particularly deep or substantive, but it’s definitely entertaining. This one is worth a recommendation. Feel free to check it out.
Hellboy vs. Lobster Johnson #1 comes to us from writers Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson, artists Mike Norton and Paul Grist, color artists Dave Johnson and Bill Crabtree, letterer Clem Robins, and cover artist Paolo Rivera.
Final Score 7.5/10