Overview

The Bulletproof Coffin #4

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The Bulletproof Coffin #4

Credits

  • Words: David Hine
  • Art: Shaky Kane
  • Story Title: "Red Wraith, Red Wraith, Red Wraith"
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Sep 15, 2010

For most of us, the concept of reality is a fairly sound proposition. We’re so confident in its clear-cut boundaries, in the structure it provides us that we rarely question its validity. In fact, most of us take reality for granted. We wake up, we go to work, we eat and sleep and procreate content and secure in the knowledge the world will be, for the most part, just as we left it the last time we were awake.

Indeed, we prefer not to question our perceptions of what constitutes reality, afraid of what we might find; horrified at the possibility that what we thought was true and real and concrete is just a terrible illusion designed to keep us sane. Yet, while the rest of us batten down the hatches and stick our heads in the sand, happy to be free of such disturbing questions, there are a few intrepid souls who seem to thrive on forcing the rest of us to reconsider our definition of what constitutes reality.

In The Bulletproof Coffin, creators David Hine and Shaky Kane are relentless in their exploration of how our media-driven pop culture society impedes our ability to tell the difference between truth and fiction. Protagonist Steve Nayman spends his day cleaning up after dead people, sifting through the leftovers of their lives and washing away the unpleasantness of their deaths, all the while dreaming of an escape from the drudgery of a truly dead-end job and an ungrateful family.

When he uncovers a cache of old comics that shouldn’t exist, Nayman retreats into a fictional world of twisted heroes and villains, taking up the mantle of the forgotten vigilante the Coffin Fly. Throughout the series, Hine and Kane flip back and forth with mad glee between the mundane world of Nayman’s waking, working life and the imaginary universe of Gold Nugget Comics, laying down a shifting, fluid framework that casts doubt on Nayman’s reliability as a POV character, while forcing the audience to question their own perceptions of reality.

In this fourth chapter, Hine and Kane continue to cast doubt on Nayman’s perceptions, as the Graveyard Planet of his dreams crystallizes into a very tangible reality, while his waking life becomes ever more questionable and tenuous. Tasked with finding the creators of the Gold Nugget characters (Hine and Kane themselves), in order to save the world from a zombie apocalypse, Nayman becomes convinced the comic book realm of his dreams is in fact the reality he should have been thriving within all along.

It’s really not as convoluted as it sounds. In Nayman, Hine and Kane have created a protagonist that taps into the simmering, sometimes desperate discontentment we all deal with to some degree in our daily lives. Bitter, jaded, and feeling he somehow missed the boat on his true calling (whatever that may be, if not savior of the world), Nayman evokes the frustration and disappointment many people feel towards the mundane, workaday world we live in.

This is what makes The Bulletproof Coffin so successful, not to mention brilliant. I don’t believe there’s been a single person out there, who hasn’t dreamed of something more exciting, something more spiritually fulfilling, something more lucrative, or something just plain better than what we experience every day upon waking.

When I was a kid, I used to play with all of my various action figures, imagining impossible worlds full of grand, epic adventures. Invariably, I would be the protagonist of these sweeping tales of heroism and derring-do, because surely that is what I was truly meant for. Household chores, school, and my bratty sister – these were all just cruel and tedious fixtures in a mundane world built to be my prison.

Eventually, I grew up and the need for love and money and success slowly tainted the realms of my imagination until they became infused – or infected – with all of the insignificant crap everybody else told me was important. In short, saving the world took a back seat to saving for the future…

In The Bulletproof Coffin, Hine and Kane have supercharged our adolescent hero fantasies and tapped into the frustration of living in a so-called real world we never saw coming, while dreaming of realms that could never be. It’s still unclear which world will prove to be “real” for Nayman but even the slightest possibility that it could be the Gold Nugget universe reminds us to question our perceptions of reality and to keep searching for that escape hatch into the realm of the impossible.

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