A Decent First Issue With Lots of Interesting Elements
This review was originally posted on my blog here.
Its October, so its pretty much a given that this is the month for reading horror stuff, especially in comics since the format lends itself very well to horror stories I find. Of course, that works much better if you have a bunch of comics in the same series to plow through back-to-back rather than reading one-offs, but sometimes that can work just fine. Which was the case for me this week with one of Vertigo’s latest series, launching with an (appropriately) extra-sized issue.
Coffin Hill seems to be a good comic to add to my monthly piles, and I have to say that it continues the Vertigo tradition of telling stories that are completely separate from the rest of the industry (for the most part). This is something I’ve remarked on before, and its really great to see all these new titles that Vertigo is putting out. Lots of diversity, lots of fun. No duds.
I’ll admit: while I really enjoyed the story, it did feel fractured at times and there was a fair bit of disconnect between the different timelines that we see in this issue. We first meet the protagonist Eve Coffin as a beat cop who just cracked her (first) big case of her career, then we see her as a teenager in a long flashback from 10 years ago, and then we get what appears to be a mix of the two timelines. It was somewhat confusing and disorienting, but I still liked what I read, what I saw.
This is a horror comic that embraces the weird and the out-of-this-world stuff. I’m not a big fan of horror comics. I’m just not a horror fan in general. If I had to count, I’d only be able to come up with three horror comics that I’ve read to date, Joe Hill’s Locke & Key from IDW, David Hine’s The Darkness: Rebirth Volume 1 from Top Cow and Steve Niles’ Lot 13 from DC. That’s off the top of my head. I’ve enjoyed all of them, and it seems that I’ll be adding Coffin Hill to that list as well. Caitlin Kittredge delivers on a slightly rough first issue, but it is still a fairly strong issue I think.
Eve Coffin is a really interesting protagonist and one of the fun things about the comic was how it contrasts the serious, casual and business-like Eve of the present with the boisterous, prankster, flashy and gothic Eve of the past. Of course, past-Eve is also a dabbler in witchcraft, owing to her family’s long and… illustrious history from the Old World. The Coffins are a really, really old family of Boston, with secrets to hide, and Eve appears to make for a suitable heiress to that entire legacy. While the writer doesn’t draw too many connections for the reader between these two Eves, preferring to let the readers work things out, it was an approach that I can appreciate. The other way is the expected way, the usual way, and right from the get go we know that Caitlin Kittredge is not out to tell a straight and narrow story here. She is looking to experiment, to explore and she is taking her time to do it all.
This first issue serves well to give us a lot of background on Eve and give us the lowdown on some of the more momentous events in her life, and there is definitely a lot of dramatic tension and the energy in the comic. Each page makes you want to read through and then turn over to the next, right up until the end when the final page is turned. And you are left wanting to read the second issue immediately. Now that’s the sign of a good comic.
Inaki Miranda is the primary artist here, assisted by Eva de la Cruz on the colourst and Travis Lanham on the letters. Visually, this was a brilliant issue. The pencilwork is pretty spot-on, except for some minor inconsistencies and lack of clarity here and there. As with the script, the art also packs a ton of energy, keeping the story flowing without any major interruptions, at least not until there are any time jumps. There are some scenes that end abruptly, but I can see how that could be because Caitlin Kittredge is playing things subtle and doesn’t want to give everything away, but I would have enjoyed seeing more work from the art team. They seem to have everything down really well and its clear that they enjoyed doing it. Lots of brilliant colour-work, despite the general dark, black tone of the script, more so since a lot of the comic takes place at night and in shadows and forests.
Coffin Hill #1 is not a great first issue, but it is a fairly good one and I will definitely be tuning in next month for the sequel.