EW.com weighs in on ''Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus.'' Plus: Joss Whedon's ''Runaways'' and Simone Lia's ''Fluffy''

Mike Mignola and Jason Armstrong
(Paperback; on sale now)
Lobster Johnson is the latest series to emerge from the dark universe that is Hellboy creator Mike Mignola’s mind. Based on Hellboy‘s Lobster character, these first five issues chronicle the goggled vigilante as he fights yeti, cannibals, giant snakes, Nazis, a mystical Siberian clan, and even the devil — all while navigating the sewers of New York City. His mission is to rescue a captured professor and to keep the academic’s mysterious robotic suit from falling into the wrong hands. Pretty basic comic fodder, but the beauty is in the details. Armstrong’s macabre art is perfect for the stylized film-noir setting of 1930s New York. Plus, Lobster Johnson is packed with goodies, like the interstitial stories on the history of the Lobster: He’s a supposed paraplegic millionaire by day, crustacean-themed superhero by night, who once roamed the streets of Manhattan, burning his signature claw into the foreheads of corrupt Mafiosi. FOR FANS OF… Mignola’s Hellboy and B.P.R.D.; the original Indiana Jones trilogy; Frankenstein. DOES IT DELIVER? Lobster Johnson is written like a campy B-flick. And while the frantic pace is exciting for most of the book, keeping track of the story is a challenge at times. But persevere, and everything makes sense in the end — notably, the dialogue’s subtle wackiness (”Beware my claw, for I’ve come to inflict justice!”). Lobster has no pretenses about being serious. It’s out to be as ridiculous as possible — and in its weird, dark way, it most definitely succeeds. B+ —Jaya Saxena

Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan
(Hardcover; on sale now)
Whedon, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator, has eked out a nice little niche for himself in comics. He penned recent successful runs of the spandex-fan-pleasing Astonishing X-Men, not to mention a comics-only season 8 of his former TV franchise. Perhaps emboldened by these hits, he picked up the quill for Marvel’s Runaways, a saga about a band of superpowered adolescents who turn on their evildoing parents. Whedon’s mission: to work his proven mojo to uphold the quality of this smart title, co-created by Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man). Dead End Kids begins as the Runaways contend with the uncertain death of their parents and settle into New York City after being on the lam. They fall in with the Kingpin (that corpulent antagonist from many a Spider-Man and Daredevil tale) who offers them protection for, oh, a favor or two. And it’s on one of those errands that our diminutive heroes discover a time-traveling gizmo — which they abscond with…but only after teleporting themselves to the year 1907, where they run into some familiar foes. FOR FANS OF… The Bad News Bears (minus parental supervision, plus powers) or a more mature Teen Titans; turn-of-the-century fashion. DOES IT DELIVER? We can’t blame Whedon for trying: After all, the dude is a proven vet at juggling a young ensemble cast, a pro at playing with superpowers, an expert at disseminating quips. But compared with the Runaways’ previous adventures — which oscillated between heartbreaking and witty as it toyed with parent-killing — this hasty jaunt into the past comes off as a gimmick meant to jolt extraneous energy into an already gripping title. Not helping: The said temporal adventure is punctuated by a Lifetime Movie subplot about an abused child bride, a tenuous love triangle, and a poor man’s manifestations of familiar characters back home (here the Punisher is represented by…the Adjudicator?!). And when that all deflates into an anticlimactic conclusion, you’ll feel like you’ve hit a Dead End, too. C —Nisha Gopalan

Simone Lia
(Hardcover; on sale now)
Lia’s weirdly compelling narrative about a rabbit with a human father gets a perfect setup in its first few pages, when the titular animal-child sleepily stumbles into the hallway just as his nursery-school teacher sneaks out of his father’s bedroom. Dad is Michael Pulcino, a haunted, neurotic English architect who lives a life of boring routine and barely sublimated panic, and…let’s just say that the strange, sometimes confusing tale about interspecies parenting, romantic relationships, and intrigue in Italy — all seen through the eyes of a charmingly sentient bunny — gets even stranger. FOR FANS OF… The surreal slices-of-life found in James Kolchalka’s American Elf. DOES IT DELIVER? The London-based Lia piles on layers of non-sequitur cuteness: a balding, bearded man wearing a dress plunks on a guitar to break up sequences in the first part of the book; a dust mote enthusiastically narrates several parts, only to wind up feuding with a flake of dandruff scornful of his antagonist’s storytelling gig. It could get cloying, were it not for the spots of realistic, moving dysfunction. While Fluffy stubbornly refuses to admit that he isn’t like everyone around him, Ms. Owers (the aforementioned teacher) stalks Michael via phone and e-mail. This and other assorted mini-dramas push Michael to what could be a breaking point, and Lia uses interior monologues to describe the emotional self-awareness brewing inside the brains of Michael and several other characters. In the end, Fluffy‘s main point seems to be that when we feel trapped by our lives, a shift in perception can blaze a path to freedom. How else could a man raise a rabbit? B+ —Evan Narcisse