Life and Death
The Lobster's origin and identity are a complete mystery. All that's known is that he was a gangbusting vigilante in the 1930s who, aided by a group of allies, fought gangsters and supernatural threats in New York City. The Lobster was obsessed with the search for justice, and was known to burn his trademark lobster claw mark into the foreheads of his victims. In the late 30s, The Lobster and his gang crossed paths with the mystic Memnan Saa whom The Lobster considered to be the devil himself. Efforts to look further into Memnan Saa's activities coincided with The Lobster's allies dying off one by one under suspicious circumstances, so The Lobster mostly cut ties with his allies for their own safety, and receded into urban legend.
During World War II, The Lobster was tasked by the U.S. government with a mission to stop the Nazis from launching a space capsule. To fulfill his mission, he caused the capsule's launch site to explode, killing himself and all others within its walls.
Continued Legacy in Pop Culture
The Lobster was widely considered an urban legend, and was often fodder for comics, pulp magazines, and movies. The first such interpretation was in a series of pulp detective novels written by Norvell Cooper, a police detective who had worked with The Lobster of multiple occasions. For his stories, he invented an alter-ego for The Lobster: a wheelchair-bound millionaire named Walter Johnson.
After the popularity of these stories, further fictionalizations of The Lobster were produced and bore less and less resemblance to the real man as time went on. He was next interpreted in comic book form as a patriotic Nazi-fighting traditional superhero, and then as a jungle hero similar to The Phantom in a low budget film serial. His most bizarre, and perhaps most notable interpretation came from a series of Mexican luchadore movies which renamed him as "Lobster Johnson" (inexplicably taking Johnson, the last name of The Lobster's alias from the Norvell Cooper novels, and appending it to his superhero name). Though these films were widely panned, the name "Lobster Johnson" stuck and has largely replaced The Lobster's actual superhero name in the modern popular consciousness.
Return in Modern Times
In the year 2000, The Lobster appeared seemingly alive and well when he encountered Hellboy and Roger while they were on a mission to the castle where The Lobster had supposedly died. He acted as a guide for Roger and Hellboy, and helped them to defeat the Conqueror Worm. Despite being alive by all appearances, Hellboy and Roger found The Lobster's decaying body in the castle where he died during World War II. They buried the body and gave The Lobster a proper funeral.
The Lobster appeared in the modern day once more when he possessed Johann Kraus and used his ectoplasm to take on a physical form. The Lobster shot Liz Sherman repeatedly in an effort to drive out his old enemy Memnan Saa, who was possessing Sherman at the time. The Lobster then disappeared without a trace. B.P.R.D agents later found several of The Lobster's calling cards, discovered his old lair, and met an old ally who was still alive and revealed The Lobster's connection Memnan Saa.
The Lobster possessed Johann Kraus a second time when B.P.R.D. agents staged an attack on Memnan Saa's stronghold, though this time his efforts were less successful. Saa struck The Lobster down with magical energy, causing him to disassociate with reality and possibly remain stuck in Kraus' body. After this, The Lobster would say sentence fragments at random, never quite seeming in sync with events around him. He often rambled on about searching for justice, cryptically asking where it could be.
Worried that The Lobster may never release Kraus from his possession, Kate Corrigan decided to take him to where his body had been laid to rest in the hopes that his spirit would move on to the afterlife. They found The Lobster's grave, but all he did was remark "It's sad". It is only after journeying further in to the castle full of dead Nazis that The Lobster leaves Kraus' body. The Lobster was last seen locked in battle with the ghosts of all the dead Nazi soldiers, determined to deal out justice to every last one of them.
Powers and Abilities
The Lobster is an an expert marksman and a professional hand to hand fighter. He is able to burn his signature lobster claw insignia into the foreheads of those he has delivered justice to. Whether he does so using a gadget in his glove or through some sort of power has not been clarified.
Though he is believed to be human, The Lobster often displays endurance far beyond that of mortal men. Time and time again, The Lobster has survived being at the epicenter of explosions with hardly a scratch on him. On the other hand, he's been seen to take damage from bullets and require time to heal. Stories have hinted that The Lobster may be somewhat supernatural in, but his origin (or anything about his personal life) has yet to be revealed to the audience.
After his death the Lobster became one of the most powerful ghosts in the Hellboy universe, able to possess seemingly anyone anywhere at will, and fully capable of interacting with the physical world. The bodies he posses take on his physical form, and he is still able to burn his insignia into the foreheads of his victims. Even without a body, his ghost has been known to communicate with the living world by manifesting cards featuring his insignia and a message on them.
He also has some sort of mystical ability, as his bullets were able to harmlessly pass through Liz Sherman's body while severing Memnan Saa's control over her and causing him physical harm.
Appearances In Other Media
Lobster Johnson: The Satan Factory
"Hellboy's premier crime fighter in an all-new novel!
Where greed and the occult walk hand in hand, where mobsters and monsters prowl the streets, none escape the justice of Lobster Johnson!
In the years before World War II, Jonas Chapel was a respected physician, until his appetite for vice got the best of him and he found himself on the run from one of New York's most powerful mob bosses. On the lam in Mexico, Chapel stumbles across a powerful witch and a cursed skeleton -- and the power to transform men into monsters. Now, he's back in New York, selling his creations to the highest bidder.
Only one man, backed by his team of trusted sidekicks, stands in his way. But will the Lobster's resolve be enough to shut down Chapel's twisted Satan Factory -- before New York itself is consumed?
A new novel by the author of the top-rated ABC Family television miniseries Fallen."
- Written By: Thomas E. Sniegoski
- Cover By: Gregory Manchess
- Publisher: Dark Horse (July 22, 2009)
- ISBN-10: 1-59582-203-8
- ISBN-13: 978-1-59582-203-1
The Lobster appears in Hellboy: Science of Evil for Playstation 3 & XBox 360. He is voiced by Bruce Campbell.
The Lobster appears in the animated movie "Hellboy: Blood and Iron, first as a cameo in the background of a flashback, and again in a brief post-credits scene where he is seen firing his guns. This was intended as a teaser for the next Hellboy Animated film which would have featured him prominently but was ultimately never produced.