The final issue of the first arc of the Image Comics’ Coffin Bound edges its way into stores this week. With an extended page count from writer Dan Watters and artist Dani, it promises to be a jolting kick to the mind as well as the eye.
What constitutes existence and exactly how far does someone have to go to remove themselves from the world? Izzy’s journey is almost over but there are still loose ends to tie up and not everyone wants her to disappear entirely.
Nearing the End
From the very beginning of this issue, Watters‘ illustrates the grotesqueness of violence and death. As he tells the story of Izzy he does not glorify any of her actions. The cold,lonely death that she has chosen was not an easy choice and no matter what she does to extract herself harmlessly from the world, there are always unsettling consequences.
And so starts this issue, with Izzy sat in the ugly consequences of the world around her. On the one hand Watters’ makes a solid case for Izzy’s decision to die but on the other hand he highlights the awful aftermath of death. Those left behind suffer more than those who leave. Izzy’s attempts to remove herself from the world have failed and others have paid the price, others like Taqa.
Watters’ uses this bleak landscape to examine the human condition, especially relating to death and it’s after effects. His characters are experiencing consequences and reacting emotionally to a subject that is difficult to discuss. It can be argued that Coffin Bound is a personal autopsy of grief. The characters represent different reactions to a situation and their interactions are the colliding thought processes of a single mind. The desire to disappear; the rage of abandonment; the need for control; and even the urge to document; all of these are reactions to a traumatic event.
Watters’ has created a world of uncomfortable fitting characters that represents something greater, something that a reader can identify with. It is entertaining but can also act as a form of reflective therapy. You will get different reading depending on your state of mind when you pick this up.
Art to the End
Dani’s visual style is sublime. It encompasses a gothic horror tradition, which is present within the narrative, and combines this with modern aesthetics. Drawing on a host of modern apocalyptic influences, from Tank Girl to Mad Max, Dani produces something that is unique but familiar. There is a comfort to the setting which in turn is destroyed by the can’t-look-away horrors.
Stripped flesh; swarming flies; shards of glass in disembodied eye balls; this is a nightmare made real however, the art is so tantalising that the reader slowly turns page after page until the very end.
The dark tones of the story are reflected in the dark tones of the coloring provided by Brad Simpson. Shadows and shades lead the reader through the quagmire of the landscape, accentuating and spotlighting areas of interest.
The scratched, impressionistic art style which utilises negative space as much as defined imagery, creates the sense of a dislocated mind. This idea is picked up by Aditya Bidikar when producing the lettering. The borders and balloon tails are not as defined as in other mainstream comics. The stark white of the balloon stands out on the darkly colored page but the forms of the balloon are broken, in some cases non-existent, which mirrors the central characters attempts to remove herself from the world.
Throughout the series, and in particular in this issue, the creators are illustrating a world disintegrating. The central characters are losing themselves, whether intentionally or not, and the landscape around them is following suit. Watters has created a complex story that is both a literal and metaphorical dissection of an emotional state of being. The art by Dani, Simpson, and Bidikar, reiterate this while creating a landscape on the page that reflects the emotion within the story.
This four issue run of Coffin Bound has been something to behold. A darkly comic tale of self destruction and eradication told in a sublimely modern gothic style, Coffin Bound is a visual success but is also an emotional one. It will affect readers in different ways and much of that will depend on how you approach what the creators have to offer.
Coffin Bound is more than entertainment, it is a comic book therapy session that you may not know you needed.