Writer: Dan Watters
Colorist: Brad Simpson
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics
Coffin Bound #1 is the trippy, grindhouse, road-chase fantasy that you’ve been waiting for. The weird new crime noir adventure from Image follows Izzy Tyburn’s quest to erase her identity after learning from a talking vulture that she’s marked for certain death. Izzy decides that, if the world doesn’t want her, then it can have no trace of her at all. So, she and the vulture race off into the desert to wipe out any mark of her existence before the gimp-masked assassin EarthEater catches them. The rest is an original and bizarre riff on our contemporary anxieties about privacy, identity, and loss.
What I like the most about this comic is that it makes no apologies. This truly odd and thoughtful book will not appeal to those seeking comfortable elements of a genre comic. Dan Watters’s (Lucifer) story belongs instead to a committed cult fan base like the one that followed Ross’s Repo Man or Morrison’s Doom Patrol. It’s filled with the obscure literary references of art house pulp, written in the stilted prose of a desert dream, and soaked in the blood of an exploitation film. And, it has a most unnerving strip club scene the likes of which I will make no attempt to describe here.
But that’s not why you read this comic. You read it for the reason that the hallucinogenic style betrays a somber tale about a woman’s heroic tussle with the fault lines of modern identity. The fun in this comic will be following Izzy as she undoes herself. Because nothing dies in the digital age, and we would all like a chance to claw back a bit of ourselves from social media. Or, perhaps, as the ending hints, identity is a sham, like that vacation pic you posted on Instagram. Either way, Coffin Bound #1 makes you think about what it means to exist when bullets fly, vultures talk through birdcages on their heads, and villains track your whereabouts by eating the dirt under which you trod.
The artwork provides the pivot against which grim and phantasmagorical elements mix and turn. Dani’s (2000 AD) strong line-work provides a firm base against which to make sense of the surreal storytelling. The artist’s decision to shift among grotesque, dreamy, and crime noir notes builds on the comic’s unapologetic nature. And, Brad Simpson (Fair Lady) uses hot colors such as orange during daylight and deep reds and purples at night to transform the desert into a foreboding and fickle character in its own right.