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Comic Book / Lobster Random

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Lobster Random is a comic strip that ran in 2000 AD, created by Simon Spurrier and Carl Critchlow.

Lobster Random was once just an average grunt. After being wounded in combat (his first gunfight no less), he is "volunteered" into the Lobster squad and given a pair of lobster claws grafted onto his hips. The result of this is he can no longer feel pain nor does he need to sleep. After winning the war, his entire unit barring himself are wiped out in an explosion at a celebratory party. Lob himself is discharged and becomes a torturer for hire.

After many years traveling the galaxy dispensing pain, he is apprehended and sent to prison. Our story begins as Lob is about to be executed by use of a memory regression machine when he is rescued with a job offer.

The strip is known for its Black Comedy and its protagonist is in keeping with the comic's tradition of avoiding square jawed handsome hero types.

Tropes specific to Lobster Random:

  • Applied Phlebotinum:
    • The claws. It turns out that the mind implants given to the Lobster Squad didn't actually do anything and that it's the claws that are responsible for the Lobster Squad's immunity to pain and lack of need for sleep.
    • The mind spheres used by the Skeaxxians against human soldiers, causing them to have vivid nightmares and kill each other. The Lobster Squad's lack of need for sleep means that they don't dream and, therefore are immune.
  • Anti-Hero: Lob makes Snake Plissken look like Captain America. He's a professional Torture Technician whose main motivation is money and only avoids being a full on Villain Protagonist because many of the story's villains are even worse than he is.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Lob loses one of his claws when Cadmium Redd slices it off. Lob replaces it with a mechanical claw until he loses that and his other claw on the Vort. Also, his left arm has been amputated on three separate occasions. And twice he has done this himself.
  • Axe-Crazy: Lob can go a bit mental at times when he's fighting. He puts it down to his lack of sleep.
  • Because I'm Good At It: Lob notes that this is one of the three reasons he tortures people for a living. The other two are the fact that he enjoys it and the other being that he can't do anything else.
  • Big Bad: Warathraal is attempting to invade Lob's universe through various means by using Cadmium Redd and the Lobster troopers.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: While Lob is far from a Nice Guy, unlike the guys he's up against, he's not trying to raise armies of Super Soldiers to take over the universe or destroy the fabric of reality.
  • Brains and Brawn: Played with with Hogg and Pinn. Turns out the skinny guy with the massive head, Pinn, is the brawn, while the massive pig-like creature, Hogg, is the brains.
  • Bounty Hunter: Hogg and Pinn are constantly pursuing Random, as he has a rather large bounty on his head ever since being busted out of prison. Lob does a deal with them, where they get the 20 million bounty on Rex Ferris in exchange for leaving him be. Earlier in that particular story, Random himself briefly considers cashing in on the bounty on Ferris before discovering that the contents of his vault are worth a lot more.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Random does in no way play fair. When one Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy in a cult attempts to show off his flashy techniques, Lob simply cuts him in half with one of his claws while he's posturing.
  • Conjoined Twins: Rex Ferris has a T-Rex as one. It was part of an experiment to bring back dinosaurs for the purpose of studies or theme parks.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Mister Copious a.k.a. Sergeant Diaz plans to create a new army of lobster troopers in order to drop mindspheres into various facilities in order to rob them so he can become rich enough to surround himself with adoring socialites (he explains that he can't use droids due to EMP grenades). However, by this time, he has already amassed enough resources to hire mercenaries capable of busting a death row prisoner out of a maximum security prison and breaking into another facility to bust out Klick, as well as having a team to carry out research on both Random and the mindsphere.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Damn near everyone. Leads to a Gambit Pileup in the third story, where Lob and Miss Teak keep screwing each other over until Lob pre-emptively betrays her by showing Rex Ferris' T-Rex conjoined twin that he won't taste very good. The beginning of the second story has Lob betray his employer because he's bored.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Random between his insults to people and his narration.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Sergeant Lobster Diaz gives a fairly standard Drill Sergeant Nasty speech to the Lobster Squad when they've been inducted. Deconstructed in that underneath, he just wants to be liked.
  • Exposition Fairy: Oddly done. Random's execution is performed like this. It essentially shows his entire life in reverse, starting from his time on Death Row and finishing with his earliest childhood memories.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Random tortures Sergeant Diaz by surgically implanting a mindsphere into his brain, leaving him unable to come into contact with anybody. He later grants him a Mercy Kill.
  • Feel No Pain: One of the effects of the lobster claws is that Random feels absolutely no pain whatsoever. It makes him a more effective torturer, since he feels no empathy towards his victims.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: Lob becomes a professional torturer for hire after getting discharged from the army, although a flashback implies he was a petty criminal before he enlisted.
  • Future Slang: Mostly swear words (Frag seems to be the most common one), but a few other terms show up.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Subverted. Turns out that the only modifications made to the Lobster Squad that actually did anything were the claws, which came from another plane of reality.
  • A God Am I: Cadmium Redd and Warathraal. The former becomes a demigod by sacrificing one of Random's claws at an altar to the latter on Nix. Warathraal is a Lobster god who is trying to invade reality through the Vort.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Lob is a crotchety individual, not helped by the fact that he hasn't slept in around three decades.
  • Hammerspace: Random's bag in the first story allows him to pull out anything as he needs it. Lampshaded when he is examining a guy he needs to torture, explaining how chakras can be used in torture, before dismissing it and hauling out a massive sledgehammer and proceeding to beat his victim with it.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Lob. He even admits that he's practically psychotic due to being unable to sleep. Of course, it's Played for Laughs.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Sergeant Diaz's motivation is just to be liked. Being The Neidermeyer and a generally insufferable Jerkass makes this difficult for him. He blames Random for the rest of the Lobster Squad not liking him and his Evil Plan as Mister Copious is to use Mind Spheres to rob various planets of their wealth just so he can surrounded by adoring socialites.
  • Implacable Man: Lob feels no pain as a result of his modification. It also leaves him with no empathy towards his victims.
  • Interspecies Romance: Random is a mechaphile (or "mekfag"). That is, he is only sexually attracted to robots, whether they be male, female or otherwise.
  • Last of His Kind: Double subverted. Lob notes that he's the last survivor of the Lobster Squad. The Big Bad of the first story, Mister Copious, turns out to be Sergeant Diaz, who Lob abandons on a desert world with a mindsphere implanted in his head. Later, Lob goes back to grant him a Mercy Kill.
  • Macho Masochism: At the beginning of "Tooth And Claw", Random is working for a despot who gets off on being tortured. However, Random finds that torturing someone who actually wants to be hurt is no fun and promptly betrays him to the local resistance for a fat bundle of cash. The guy does have a weakness, however. Tickling is torturous to him, as Lob reveals to the rebels before he leaves.
  • Meaningful Name: Rex Ferris what with being a conjoined twin with a T-Rex. The Lobster squad could also count, seeing as their first names were all changed to Lobster.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous:
    • The Lobster Squad were fitted with lobster claws grafted to their hips. Cadmium Redd explains that people asked him why he bothered, as the idea was at best Awesome, but Impractical, but they turn out to be the source of the Lobster Squad's abilities to neither need sleep nor feel pain.
    • One of the mercenaries who breaks Random out of prison in the first story has four arms.
  • The Neidermeyer: Sergeant Diaz is a hardass sergeant who is disliked by the rest of the Lobster Squad. For example, when Lobster Quarter gets blown up, Diaz doesn't even allow his buddies to scoop up what's left of him. Deconstructed in that Diaz actually just wants to be liked and blames Random for the Lobster Squad not liking him.
  • Only in It for the Money: Lob, full stop. At one point, he turns against the masochistic dictator he's working for because the rebels offer him money. That and he's bored by hurting someone who wants to be hurt.
  • Outlaw Couple: Random and Mrs Redd become this for a while. Their modus operandi involves Mrs Redd's robotic body disguising itself as a live woman and seducing billionaires into marriage, after which Random would torture them into a huge divorce settlement.
  • Psycho for Hire: A rare case of one being The Protagonist. Lob's post-military career has basically been being hired by various criminal elements to extract information from people or get them to do things they don't want to.
  • Robosexual: Lob starts out in a relationship with a robot named Click. He sleeps with various droids throughout the strip and shows no interest in anyone biological.
  • Scars are Forever: The healing process that heals Lob's burns from the Vort and gives him his fourth left arm. still can't get rid of that x-shaped scar on his forehead.
  • Science Is Useless: Nothing electrical will work on The Vort.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Lob's experiences have left him hilariously cynical.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Nix brings back some bad memories from the war for Lob. He's not entirely keen to go back there after his experiences there and has a Freak Out when he goes back, hallucinating his dead comrades and the battles around him. Doesn't help when Redd brings them all back as zombies.
  • Shout-Out: The Vort hits many of the same beats as The Dead Man: The story is credited to a Pen Name to throw the reader off the scent and told from the narrative perspective of a new character who encounters an amnesiac who has been very badly burnt who we discover at the end of the story is a Canon Character All Along. Said story immediately leads into a major storyline.
  • Super-Soldier: The Lobster Squad were modified for war against the Skeaxxians, who kept dropping Mind Spheres on regular human soldiers. The Mind Spheres cause hallucinatory nightmares, causing humans to kill each other in blind panic. Thanks to the claws, the Lobsters are immune to subconscious warfare, in addition to not needing to sleep and never feeling pain.
  • Torture Technician: Lob extracts information for clients by means of torture for financial gain. The fact that he can't feel pain himself leaves him completely unable to empathise with any of his victims.
  • Villain Protagonist: Lob is a deeply unpleasant individual who is a professional Torture Technician only concerned with making money and clanging droids.
  • War Is Hell: The war backstory from Random's youth is over the planet Nixx's proximity to a wormhole. The humans and Skeaxxians spend years fighting over it, with heavy casualties on both sides (Random states that the rainforests went extinct due to the high volume of KIA letters sent to families) until the humans work out a way to overcome the Skeaxxians' Applied Phlebotinum weapon with the lobster squad. Cue the end of the war and the humans send probes through.......only to find nothing on the other side. Understandably, Random sees setting foot on Nixx as nightmarish, particularly when Cadmium Redd resurrects the dead lobster troopers as zombies.
  • You Have Failed Me: Warathraal berates Cadmium Redd for squandering his new demigodlike abilities on mortal conflicts. He even cites the trope name word for word.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • Cadmium Redd's fate. Warathraal destroys him for wasting his power on revenge against Random.
    • This is implied to be the case for the Lobster Squad as well, since the experiments performed on them are bad for PR. So, at a party celebrating their achievements, a fission heater explodes, killing everyone except Random, who was out the back having sex with a droid, and Sergeant Diaz, who was watching him.