Sunday, 17 October 2010

Review - The Bulletproof Coffin issues 1-3

‘The Bulletproof Coffin’ is a 6-issue mini-series written by David Hine, drawn by Shaky Kane, and published by Image. Prior to reading these three issues, I was not familiar with the work of David Hine but I know that Paul (Rainey) is a fan and I remember the work of Shaky Kane from Deadline, back in the 1980s / 1990s. I only ever bought a few issues of Deadline at the time, for some reason. I seem to remember not liking Tank Girl and thinking that the magazine as a whole was a bit too cool. I suspect that I would like Deadline if it was being published today, but one thing I do remember liking a lot about Deadline even then was the Kirby-esque art of Shaky Kane, which stood out a mile, even if I don’t remember a thing about the stories he drew.

Kane’s art here reminds me more of the work of Bob ‘Flaming Carrot’ Burden than it does Jack Kirby – although there are certainly many illustrations here that do call to mind Kirby – but I still really like his style. Indeed, I bought these comics because of Kane’s art, but the story is pretty good, too.

This tells the tale of Steve Neuman, who clears the houses of dead people for a living and is allowed to keep stuff with ‘no verifiable auction house value’. During one particular house clearance he finds some comics that shouldn’t really exist, as the titles in question – ‘The Unforgiving Eye’, ‘Shield of Justice’, ‘Red Wraith Comics’, ‘Romana Queen of the Stone Age’ and ‘The Coffin Fly’ – ceased publication in the 1960s and these are more recent issues. The creators of these comics – an alternate Hine and Kane, clearly inspired by Lee / Kirby / Ditko – parted on less than friendly terms when their company, ‘Golden Nuggets Comics’, was bought out by ‘Big 2 Publishing’. The 1960s Hine then ‘sold out’ and spent years churning out sub-standard superhero fare while the 1960s Kane reputedly moved into producing ‘adult’ comics for the Russian market using the pseudonym ‘Destroyovski’. These more recent issues of the various Golden Nuggets titles, however, do appear to be the work of Hine and Kane.

Returning to the house where he found these comics, Neuman finds and dons a ‘Coffin Fly’ costume. Soon after, he receives a visit from some other people wearing the costumes of Golden Nuggets characters who tell him that his life is now in danger – threatened by the ‘Shadow Men’ who killed the comics’ original owner. He also discovers a hatch in the roof of his attic that leads to the eponymous ‘Bulletproof Coffin’ and a post-apocalyptic future landscape full of dinosaurs and zombie Vietnam vets.

As you have probably already gathered, this is quite a surreal tale. It makes little sense and I have no idea where it might be going. However, it was intriguing and enjoyable and I will certainly be downloading the remaining three issues when they are available.

Yes, that’s right, I DOWNLOADED these – legally, of course – from Comixology. This was the first time I have ever paid to download a comic and I think I could get used to it. I struggle to read large amounts of text on a computer screen – I certainly wouldn’t want to read a novel on my laptop and maybe not even a graphic novel – but I think most 20-page periodical comics work quite well on a computer screen and I had no problems reading this at all once I got used to the various controls. I paid $1.99 per issue, which is half the price of the paper comics and less than half price for British readers, since we have freight costs to take into account in the prices we pay for comics. The only downside to this experience is that $1.99 works out to fractionally under £1.24 at today’s exchange rate, which means that I have broken the first ‘rule of the ration’ (i.e. ‘thou shall not pay more than £1.20 for any comic published by a company with a Diamond-exclusive distribution deal’). It’s only 4p over, though, so I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of my Objects of Desire. But I ain't gonna cheat :-)