Overview

The Bulletproof Coffin #1

Review

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The Bulletproof Coffin #1

Credits

  • Words: David Hine
  • Art: Shaky Kane
  • Story Title: The Eye Within The Eye
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Jun 3, 2010

The bastard offspring of an eclectic array of creative and cultural forebears, The Bulletproof Coffin is meta-fiction at its best and most organic. On the surface, David Hine and Shaky Kane have crafted a clever little satire, a pop culture montage of everything that’s cool and crazy and gaudy about the medium and business of comics.

Although there are some laugh-out loud moments and scenes that elicit a perplexed and disturbed, “What the ---?”, this isn’t a book satisfied with simply shocking its audience. This is a true collaborative effort. Hine’s script is razor-sharp, honed to a lethal edge by his years of experience as an accomplished artist in his own right, while Kane’s work is informed by frequent forays into other media, including prose. The result is a perfect fusion of words and pictures, by creators who understand how to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses intimately.

Working from Kane’s notes, Hine develops their characters with impeccable care, whether they exist within the pages of a fictional comic book or as the audience’s guides through the strange, twisted realm he builds with his collaborator. It’s easy to relate to the affable “voids contractor” Steve Newman, even if he does clean up after dead people. At the end of the day, Steve’s just like the rest of us: trapped in the rat race of work and family, wondering how the hell his life forgot to happen, and whose only solace is his peculiar obsession with forgotten memorabilia. Sound familiar?

Like most of us who crack the cover of our favorite comic book, Steve is searching desperately for a way out; an escape from his boring, mundane existence in comics’ four-color world of spandex, sex, and adventure. What he finds, when he discovers a collection of comic books that shouldn’t exist, is a portal leading him into a kaleidoscopic house of mirrors reflecting society’s pervading obsession with popular culture.

It’s this obsessive-compulsive fascination with the weird and wonderful that provides the creative impetus for The Bulletproof Coffin. Hine and Kane don’t simply satirize the admittedly skewed worldview of rabid collectors and eccentric creators, they explore what drives us to seek out these escape routes in the first place and celebrate the esoteric iconography guiding us on our journey. 

Kane’s artwork is visually stunning. His distinctive, schizophrenic style recalls the bombastic rendering of Jack Kirby, filtered through the warped lens of a career firmly entrenched in the underground comics movement of the eighties. His panels come densely packed with a variety of tasty treats, as he jams each scene and setting with a multitude of twisted pop culture references.

It’s a deceptively balanced approach. Kane’s work isn’t random or arbitrary, by any means. He’s an exceptional storyteller and craftsman, capable of tweaking his style to service the story, while transitioning between scenes and perspectives with nonchalant brilliance and ease. If you haven’t already experienced Shaky Kane’s distinctive work, you soon will. Be warned, North America: Shaky Kane has arrived.

The Bulletproof Coffin is a book fans and critics will be talking about for long time after the six-issue limited series wraps up later this year. It not only features the arrival of one of the best kept secrets in the UK to American shores in Shaky Kane, it also fully realizes the burgeoning potential of meta-fiction in the comics medium.

Hine and Kane offer their readers the full package in The Bulletproof Coffin, creating a complete history for their intersecting fictional worlds, teeming with thoughtful sarcasm and an attention to detail that disturbs and delights, even as it induces delirium.

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Comments

  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Jun 8, 2010 at 3:14am

    ACK! Forgot to pre-order this, goshdarnit! Good review here!

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