By Zack Quaintance — In its (pretty stellar) debut issue, Coffin Bound from writer Dan Watters and artist Dani (with colors by Brad Simpson and letters by Aditya Bidikar) made readers a few promises.
1. This creative team reserves the right to do what it wants.
Want to have a figure whose head is a vulture’s skull entombed in a birdcage? Well, have at it. Want to have a literal strip club, where the dancers take off their clothes...and then take off their skin? In the world of Coffin Bound, that is a thing too. With these ethereal and fantastical touches, the creative team essentially promised readers that no idea was off the board, provided it helped bring meaning to the narrative or poignancy to the illustrations.
This continues in Coffin Bound #2, which features a set of stolen eyes that largely function as a macguffin for these 20-some pages. And it’s great. In fact, the comics’ willingness to explore any idea is what I’ve so far identified as this book’s greatest strength. The aesthetic that art team Dani and Simpson have created here is quite singular, and Watters’ scripting continues to respect and utilize that, putting them in places to craft obscenely memorable panels like they do here as early as page 2. It also creates a sense of excitement and wonder when one thinks of future issues.
Just what might we be in for next? Who the hell knows, but we definitely won’t expect it.
2. This is a story about a chase.
This comic could very well stand on the merits of what we discussed in section 1 — those visuals! — but it’s not quite content to do that. Watters and Dani promised us in the first issue that this was a story about a chase, and we get more of that here. So far, the chase has been sort of looming while we get to know our principals on both sides of it, the pursued and the pursuer, and I think that’s the right move.
Giving us too much suspense too quickly in a story like this might soon mean that the only way to up the tension is to give us a scene where our hero is caught. The creative team here is not rushing, instead making the wide decision to tease out the qualities that define our hero (Izzy) and our foil (EarthEater! whose name in this comic gets a wonderful bit of emphasis via Bidikar’s expressive lettering).
3. Our protagonist only kind of cares if she’s caught; the point for her is not the ending.
Finally, in the first issue we were also promised that our hero’s default mode would be nihilistic. My sense from the start of Coffin Bound has been that the creative team is not interested in a standard hero's journey wherein their protagonist wants something, faces down some adversity, returns to her first circumstance (or an approximation), and demonstrates growth. My sense is that in some ways that would go against the whole point of Coffin Bound. Consider, I suppose, the title.
In this issue, the nihilism is back. There’s a key scene that speaks to this when Izzy turns down the help of an old friend while driving into her hometown...where no one likes her, cigarette pressed to her lips. Izzy, of course, does not want to be caught or punished or made to feel as if she’s done harm, so she’s plunging right into this thing. She’s also not doing it to make any grand gesture. She continues to inhabit a world where things just are, acting within that context with reduced expectations. It is, as the kids say, a mood, and it’s one I’m enjoying like all get out.
Overall: Coffin Bound #2 is even better than the first issue, building on the promises made in the debut. Oh, and the aesthetic in this book is among the best of any comic this year. I love it. 9.6/10
Coffin Bound #2
Writer: Dan Watters
Colorist: Brad Simpson
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics
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Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as Comics Bookcase.