Crimson Lotus – John Arcudi, Mindy Lee & Michelle Madsen (Dark Horse)

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Just like the heroes of the four colour universe, the villains who continually plague and harry them are forged in the fires of adversity and anguish. And the most despicable and monstrous criminals of are born in the most horrific circumstances, their lives of murder, robbery, extortion and grandiose dreams of world domination being dictated by the hand Fate dealt them. Had the Crimson Lotus, the arch nemesis of Lobster Johnson, not witnessed her father’s grizzly demise or encountered Rasputin during the closing months of the Russian-Japanese war, who knows what life may have had planned for her? But she did, and so her course of vengeance was set and her life of malefaction born from the dark arts, magic and the occult began.

Crimson Lotus tells the story of how the Lotus became who she did and her initial battles with Chinese Intelligence through her alliance of necessity with the Japanese Army as her quest for vengeance neared its end point. It’s a full throttle tale of blazing guns, intrigue, the blackest of black magic, demons, assassination and Machiavellian scheming that pits the arch villainess against China’s greatest intelligence operatives and weaves and winds its way through a devilishly fun narrative that ends in the sort of explosive, and knowing, cliff-hanger that the Saturday morning chapter plays of the thirties and forties used to revel in.

Drawing inspiration from Sax Rohmer, Harry Steeger and Walter B. Gibson, the fathers and masters of pulp adventure, John Arcudi’s story of the beginning of the formidable rise of the Crimson Lotus is steeped in the literary tradition that inspired it. Given an inescapable sense of time and place by the incredibly detailed, jaw dropping art and colours of Mindy Lee and Michelle Madsen, Arcudi’s tale of international chicanery, double dealing secrecy and bloody reprisal offers a delightfully dark insight into the origin of one of the Hellboy Universe most mysterious characters. Turn the lights down low, switch off the wireless and prepare to enter a world of danger and deceit with the Crimson Lotus… Tim Cundle

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