(Flashbacks are the New Orange. Alert. Spoiler Alert)
After reading the first issue of Coffin Hill, I took to the dark rural streets of Corvallis with only a Johnathan Lethem interview for company, and thoughts as to why I enjoyed this comic as much as I did.
I picked up Coffin Hill because none of the books I’ve been reading were waiting in my box at Matt’s other than a reprint of Sex Criminals #2 (Pretty stellar. Definitely brings the funnies in a way the most recent one doesn’t), and I had promised myself that I would pick up another comic to further increase the incentive of making my way to the store after a long day of grad schooling. Between this and the first issue of the most recent volume of Black Widow, I was told to go with Coffin Hill on the basis that Marvel sucks because…, and while I disagree a bit with them (although perusing through my trades, I do see Marvel underrepresented other than a hardcover of Spider-Men my sister gave me for Christmas two years ago) I think I made the right choice.
Kittredge does a great first issue here in a way that few others that I’ve read have managed, particularly for an original property. Within the issue we get a great sense of the tone this book will deliver (creepy supernatural Gothicness with a side of possible police procedural), and the characters. Eve Hill, we learn in the issue’s opening pages, is a rookie cop who kills a crazed serial killer and seems down despite her fellow cops’ celebratory mood. Soon after events see her rushed to the emergency room with a bullet to the head. It’s here in a wonderful page where we get images from Eve’s shattered mind juxtaposed with an image of the working surgeons, providing some insight into just what led her to where she is right now before the book goes full-on flashback.
I realized when reading this issue that first issues of original comics often have a heavy dose of flashback. Perhaps it’s because it does a good job of giving the impression that the world has existed prior the book’s present events, giving us a peek at the universe’s history that the writer can explore in later issues. Recently, I recall reading that flashbacks are never truly effective unless they do a great job of informing the present circumstances. Black Science, while an interesting premiere issue, definitely suffered in pacing from its few flashbacks that provided context, but perhaps not in the most seamless way for that title’s purposes. The flashback in Coffin Hill works because we arrive at it as a result of Eve’s head trauma, and the young Eve we get a glimpse of is distinctly different than the one lying on an operation table. Beyond the change in hair, young Eve is a rich punk kid, and resident of the titular Coffin Hill, who seems as if she’d sooner spit on her older cop-self than stop wearing dog collars.
Additionally, the flashback gives some great stakes to the final image of the title where we see a newly recovered Eve return to a decrepit-looking Coffin Hill. Miranda does some great work in terms of the character and costume designs, giving the book an energetic feel with some great full page panels that contrasts teen Eve with her younger self. Colorist Eva De La Cruz also makes blood look sticky in a way that few colorists can, emphasizing what few other comics do- that it gets everywhere and stays there.
Coffin Hill is a great start to a new property, and if it holds up, I’ll be sure to add it to my pull list if Ms. Marvel doesn’t wow me when it comes out next month.