Writer: Dan Watters
Colorist: Brad Simpson
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics
Erasing your identity is not easy. That’s what Izzy Tyburn learns in Coffin Bound #2. When we last left the anti-heroine of this bizarre hallucination of a grindhouse comic, Izzy had set out to wipe away any trace of her existence. But undoing yourself means re-visiting your past. And, for her, that means re-opening old wounds and facing down old enemies. As she does, the crime noir-desert chase epic from Image Comics shifts gears. It reveals a reflective side that blends well with the trippy and grotesque elements of the debut installment.
Dan Watters (Lucifer) has a hard task. He has to follow up on a popular debut issue that quickly went to multiple printings. The genre-busting weirdness of Coffin Bound #1 was a much-needed diversion from a nostalgia wave, multi-issue event, and the mutant-opera comics that defined spring and summer. But rather than up the ante on the gory oddness that first drew us in, Watters wisely changes tack. This is an issue about relationships. Izzy has family. She misses them. They like pancakes. Erasing herself will hurt them. The play for emotional depth gives the gratuitous weirdness an unexpected tenderness. Alongside strange jilted poets who rise whole from the earth’s bowels is a sad, unsettling story about what happens when loved ones lose their way.
Grief and loss are worthy themes, but don’t fret, Coffin Bound #2 is still violent and strange. Notable is a gruesome chainsaw-and-body-parts scene I leave readers to discover for themselves. Like the strip club scene from the last issue, the dark humor saturating this vignette asks us to think about what personhood means at a time when intimacy and privacy are no longer sacred. Izzy’s task is very modern – to defend her sense of being against the infinite echoes and traces of herself that live in the minds of total strangers. For her, that means erasing herself in the face of EarthEater, a vile assassin who tracks her by eating the dirt she walks upon. For us, it means standing against echoes and traces we leave for the big data, drones, and cameras that track every inch of the digital dirt we trod over.
To live, we have to die. Or something heady like that you wouldn’t expect from a comicbook nowadays. Watch the artwork for clues as to where we begin and our digital profiles might end. I was caught up with the portrayal of faces in this issue. Sometimes they flicker in and out of the frame. I think it’s a warning. Artist DANI (2000 AD) and colorist Brad Simpson (Fair Lady) want us to know that those whom we love most are also the ones we’re most likely to lose to the lonely clamor of modernity. The shifting size and color of the characters’ eyes messes with what we think we know about who people are. And, they help to set up a decent cliffhanger. Izzy’s plague-masked and organ-harvesting enemies have designs on the very notion of existence.
I came for car chases, excessive gore, and delirium. I stayed for the quiet stories about family and the loud questions they provoke about what it means to live and be in the world today. Check out Coffin Bound #2 if you want to be entertained and challenged. Oh, and more EarthEater please. He’s creepy AF.