Introspective philosophy and body mutilation forms the backbone of Coffin Bound #3 out from Image Comics this week. Writer Dan Watters takes each character on a journey into themselves and drags the reader along for the uncomfortable ride.
With a darkly humorous tone already set by previous issues, this comic is basically Tank Girl with a death wish and is not afraid to dig deep into the human spirit and tear out whatever it finds there. Be warned, Watters and artist Dani do not hold back and if you find it hard to get passed the cover, it’s probably best not to venture any further.
A Shroud of Darkness
This issue starts with Izzy fighting for her life while contemplating her own existence, decay, and death. The visuals are energetic and desperate with each stage of Izzy’s flight illustrated as a slog through darkness. Dani etches the characters out on the page and Brad Simpson soaks them in uncomfortable colors. The shift from panel to panel gives you travel sickness, exacerbated by the threat from the presence stealing EarthEater.
Izzy’s desperation manifests itself on the page but is almost contradicted by the overlaid captions. This is the story of a woman looking to remove herself from the world but she fights so hard to stay in it. Watters point in this opening is to focus on free will and the right of an individual to make their own choices.
This theme permeates throughout this issue, seeping into the story lines for each of the characters. Taqa has been left behind and must face the prospect of abandonment. She learns many truths that hurt her and in a desperate act to understand herself she is led by those around her. As Izzy is trying to strip the world of her existence, piece by piece, Taga is manipulated into striping herself to find her place in the world.
The two central characters are contrasted across the narrative. Each have their own guide who is helping and manipulating them in equal measures. Both guides are mysterious to a certain degree and neither can be wholey trusted. Izzy is on a physical journey to destroy herself, while Taqa is on an emotional journey where she is physically destroying herself.
But the story runs even deeper. The extras in the cast are all approaching their own journeys of self discovery in a number of different ways. The variety of life, and to a certain degree death, is present within these pages and the creators force the reader to face it all head on. Once you’ve started you can’t look away.
In The Details
For such an introspective story it’s important to get the small stuff right. Dani’s layouts are intrinsically personal, focusing on character moments and gestures. She very rarely uses long shots in this issue and when she does it is to highlight the isolation of a character. Small, intricate details fill some panels while deliberate abstract visuals shape others. Both approaches share page space and are all a part of the overall theme.
If you’ve ever heard Adityar Bidikar talk about his work, or read his columns in the digital magazine Panel X Panel , then you will know that he is very passionate about his work, and that really shows in Coffin Bound. The lettering takes on a life of its own. Bound to the characters but also apart, like distant thoughts within the recesses of the characters minds. The wonderful speech balloons have skinny tails creating the impression of wisps in the air.
There are some obscurely shaped speech balloons that not only fit the artwork better but represent the characters that are speaking. A contrast is made between Izzy and her guide. One fits the world better than the other, as if one belongs and one doesn’t.
The fluid nature of the storytelling mixed with the expressionistic coloring and character driven lettering creates an immense reading experience. Coffin Bound is intense, often disturbing, but also compulsive reading. Watters has crafted a tale of self discovery and personal analysis which has been brought to life with a visual flair by the art team.
There are some scenes that will turn your stomach, and for this reason the comic will not appeal to some people but body horror aside, Coffin Bound is a must read comic. It riffs off recognisable icons, comics, and films but ultimately produces a unique reading experience.