The world of COFFIN HILL is interesting, and not like much else in comics (Locke & Key being one of the closer analogues). Framed by the horror genre, its sleepy New England town conjures up scenery and characters usually at home in prose, with the added treat of sequential illustration. It's rife with history -- both in the sense of generations of Coffins we have yet to learn more about, and regarding Eve's own personal history -- and has deeply-rooted emotional drama just waiting to be played out.
Kittredge's character dynamics are thoughtful and feel natural. This month's issue introduces us to Nate, a police officer who shares some of the more horrific memories from Eve's past, but doesn't attribute them to witchcraft as she does. There's unresolved romantic tension at play, and there's also a very natural conflict between the two -- her determination versus his skepticism. Eve's interactions with others feel very human, too -- when she asks Lacey's mother about witchcraft and gets a deer-in-headlights response, it's completely reasonable for the other woman to react that way, and the moment feels genuine.
Inaki Miranda knows how to draw creepy. Blacking out one of Eve's eyes was a brilliant choice, because every time we see her face, it looks off, regardless of her expression. Miranda also has a penchant for filling environments with gloriously detailed elements -- like the feathers that flurry through the panels when Eve jumps on the police cruiser -- and it makes COFFIN HILL richer and more eerie.
The parameters of supernatural activity within the world of COFFIN HILL are still murky, and it's detracting from their chill factor. The flashback of Eve's dark magic accident proves out (for the reader) the existence of magic and lends some credibility to her stories, but everything else is a chaotic scattering of Eve's inner monologue. Something's in the woods? And it woke up? And it's probably mad? But we don't even have a hint at what that something might be -- a monster, another witch, a demon, something we've never even heard of -- and that makes it far less ominous than it might be if we had a hitch more context.
COFFIN HILL brings a young-adult sensibility to the Vertigo line, infusing a supernatural story with teen angst, hinted-at romance, and a little bit of edge. Inaki Miranda renders Caitlin Kittredge's dramatic mystery beautifully on the page, inviting closer looks at each rich, detailed panel. Eve Coffin's story is just getting started, and it's on a trajectory with plenty of potential.