The Existentialist’s Comic: An Advance Review Of Coffin Bound #1

by Rachel Bellwoar

If Izzy’s death was so inevitable, you’d think the vulture would let her sleep, but he doesn’t. He wakes her up.

The Eartheater never misses. That’s what the vulture tells her, yet when she brings up that “vultures circle the dead,” he corrects her. “The dying,” not dead.
Is it possible, then, that Izzy might not be as coffin bound as the title for Dan Watters and Dani’s new series suggests (or at least no more coffin bound than anyone else who’s alive can claim)?
Izzy takes the news of her impending death well and plans to use the time she has left to erase herself from existence, but how does one go about achieving such a lofty goal (and is that really what she wants or subconsciously is she running away, like the vulture suggests)? This isn’t someone who wants to die. We see her fight for her life, yet her approach is so opposite (burning rubber instead of buckling down) that you have to rethink what fighting back looks like. When her manager calls, she tells him not to waste his time but by the end of the call she tells him to let her know, if anything changes. She hasn’t given up but figuring out what she is doing might take some time. For now, she looks and sounds so cool, it doesn’t matter, with Brad Simpson’s colors adding noir energy to the desert heat.

I’ve been throwing around the word “vulture” a lot but what you need to understand is this may be the coolest character design to come out of comics this year, on the level of Agatha Blue Witch from Images’ Head Lopper and with a similar bearing to the Inspector from AfterShock’s Shipwreck. A walking, talking skull in a cage, Dani takes a bird already associated with death and makes it a literal embodiment of mortality that’s bound to inspire cosplay and Halloween costumes this fall.
There’s a lot of that in this story – doubt over what should be taken literally. While Izzy may not react to the news that the Eartheater’s out to get her, it does inspire some passionate responses from the people who know her this issue. One in particular, Paulie, gets very upset. A poet who claims Izzy’s his muse, all of Watters’ dialogue has a poetic quality to it but Paulie says he’s poetry’s vessel. That could mean nothing, or it could mean he’s possessed by Poetry and fighting for control of his body, Jekyll and Hyde style.
It’s hard to take anything off the table when you’re dealing with an antagonist named Eartheater. Aditya Bidikar’s letters add to the Eartheater’s reputation. Every time his name appears it’s like he’s Shaft and your reading Watters’ words to the tune of the theme song. Bidikar’s letters also draw attention to the odd couple pairing of Izzy and the vulture. The vulture’s speech bubbles are like nests and the letters are all scratchy.
If Albert Camus’ The Stranger was your jam in high school, or you’re partial to existentialism, Coffin Bound #1 is the comic for you. It comes out August 7th from Image Comics.

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