Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews—now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘Coffin Bound’ #1, out August 7 from Image Comics.

'Coffin Bound' #1: The DoomRocket Review
Cover to ‘Coffin Bound’ #1. Art: Dani/Image Comics

THIS ADVANCE REVIEW OF ‘COFFIN BOUND’ #1 IS SPOILER-FREE.

by Lauren Fernandes. From the very first frame of Dan Watters and artist Dani’s Coffin Bound, I am there. I am swept into this grimy, angsty world that seems to have a note of apathy carried on the wind. I feel the heat of the desert. I feel the dust cling to my hair and skin. This is a world in disrepair, a world partially forgotten. Most of all, it is a world of danger, and for this I am grateful I am only an observer. 

We meet our gothy, pierced, yet delightfully eloquent protagonist Izzy as she sits across from a vulture. The word “vulture” may give you an inaccurate image, however. In this world, the vulture has the body of a man, with a pair of gangly robot legs, and the head of a vulture skull crowned in a bird cage. With the arrival of the Vulture, Izzy is alerted to the inconvenient fact that there is a killer after her. Her solution is to destroy all evidence of her existence. And thus begins a gnarly, violent road trip that I am on board for. 

With Coffin Bound, there’s no question one must suspend their disbelief, and that suspension happens without thought or effort. Building a deeply layered, immersive, utterly unique world is a muscle Dan Watters has been training for years, most recently with his works in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Universe. Overall, it is easy to detect the influence of his Vertigo work in the dark and strange things we encounter throughout the issue, and Watters’ style of writing keeps us moving at such an perpetual beat, it’s always a treat to read. In this interview with Comics Beat, he describes wanting to create a completely nihilistic world. With Coffin Bound, Watters has accomplished this in spades.

What deeper sense of nihilism could you reach, when your protagonist’s response to being the target of a killer is to simply wipe away her own existence? There are a dozen brilliantly written lines, nearly poetic in their pacing and delivery, that underline this nihilism again and again. But don’t get me wrong: this reinforcement never feels repetitive. Rather, it is the careful, diligent construction of a deep world, brimming with its own culture. 

Artist Dani’s work pairs perfectly with the shady, dangerous world Watters has written. Their combined efforts create a seamless reality, full of things I don’t understand but accept without question. Dani’s drawings have an intrinsic grit to them that pull me in. I want to be a fly on the wall during all of this action. I want to see it. The strip club featured in this issue is a haunted house I want to walk through. Brad Simpson’s color palette choices set the tone for the desert heat, or the desperation in the club, or the cool blues of being stranded on the side of the road late at night. The glow of the fires and artificial lighting emphasize the encroaching darkness. Dani and Simpson’s ability to create these lighting effects is a skill that cannot be underlined enough. It’s a modern day command of chiaroscuro applied to comics and it is so good.

Coffin Bound is an unapologetic thrill-ride set in a weirdly poetic marriage of film noir and 90’s grunge. Izzy’s journey is highly uncommon in a protagonist; how many heroes do we know that destroy their own existence? Intentionally, and only as a way to seemingly throw a middle finger to the villain and subvert their plan? Her acceptance of her fate is unquestioning. How she chooses to spend the time remaining to her is unconventional, and I’m still not totally sure what it all means. What does it mean to wipe away all evidence of your life? If all evidence of your life is removed, did you ever really live? Coffin Bound has given us these questions. Regardless, Izzy doesn’t seem to care. As for me, I will sit in the backseat with the vulture, along for the ride. 

Image Comics / $3.99

Written by Dan Watters.

Art by Dani.

Colors by Brad Simpson.

Letters by Aditya Bidikar.

8.5 out of 10

‘Coffin Bound’ #1 hits stores August 7.

Check out this 6-page preview of ‘Coffin Bound’ #1, courtesy of Image Comics!

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