Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Dan Watters
Colours: Brad Simpson
Lettering: Aditya Bidikar
Release Date: 7th August 2020
The first volume of Image Comics’ Coffin Bound ended with our heroine Izzy Tyburn having her own gun pressed to her forehead and the terrifying “Eartheater” with his finger on the trigger. Will the gun break and save her life, or will this be the violent end to her journey of self-deletion and catharsis? It’s been an almost nine-month wait, but this week, Dan Watters and Dani are finally able to answer all of our questions.
What we get instead, in a flourish that manages to be both intensely frustrating and deeply satisfying, is a time jump into what feels like the near future, where we discover that troubled Taqa has found “God” – who, in this case, comes via a syringe. But with the holy narcotic about to be banned, she is charged with a task by the fairly skeezy Father Palava – locate and present ‘The Vulture’ to the masses to prove God’s existence once and for all.
Honestly, I’m not mad at all about Taqa taking centre stage here. She’s a truly fascinating, three-dimensional protagonist (as indeed are most of the main players in this series), and the creative method she utilises to try and bring forth the Harbinger of Death ensures that this is going to be another jaw-dropping arc.
Izzy’s fate can wait for now.
The visual side of the story continues to underscore its individuality, with Dani’s ebbing and flowing between detailed panels and scratchy, sketchbook-esque pages establishing a rhythm that can;t help but draw you into the narrative. Eartheater remains a truly fantastic creation; a hulking, gimp-mask wearing monstrosity in what looks like a sheepskin blanket, and any allusion to either the Vulture of Izzy herself is handled with an almost visceral flair here.
Similarly as impactful are the muted but confident colours of Brad Simpson, who really carries the narrative during one particularly violent two-page sequence near the end of the issues, and the shrewdly creative lettering of Aditya Bidikar, who likely deserves an Eisner Award for his “EarthEater!” exclamations alone.
Watters dialogue is once again nothing short of sublime throughout, blending eloquent introspection and sweeping drama with disarming moments of laugh-out-loud humour. Taqa has a far more formal turn of phrase than Izzy, which grounds the series just a little more, but Watters still manages to make sections of the dialogue feel poetic without things ever becoming overwrought.
The first arc dealt with sweeping themes of mortality, existential guilt and the marks we leave on the world around us, and it looks like the second is going to take a slightly different view on life, death and the pursuit of intravenous enlightenment.
If Vertigo Comics were still around, I strongly contend that Coffin Bound would be its flagship title. That’s not a slight on Image Comics in any way you understand, who have certainly cemented their own brand of relentlessly original stories over the years, but this feels just weird (and relentlessly original) enough to be held alongside the very best of the flagship imprint.
If you missed the first four-part volume of this series, I suggest you remedy that immediately. Bold, creative and utterly sublime, Coffin Bound’s second arc shows no signs of squandering the freight train momentum of its first. Highest possible recommendation.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]