As Eve Coffin reacquaints herself with her hometown after being away for ten years, she begins to find that the consequences of her witchcraft have taken root in other unexpected ways as “Coffin Hill” takes a very “Haunting in Connecticut” turn. Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda only touch upon Eve’s complex relationships with the people of Coffin Hill in this issue, laying a solid foundation for upcoming storylines without really revealing anything new. However interesting the story may be, “Coffin Hill” #3 suffers from rushed plotting and poor pacing; the art, on the other hand, includes some lovely layouts and strong — if static — figure work.
In terms of location, this issue happens all over the place: from the woods to Coffin Hill to Barclay’s Hospital for the Insane to town and back again. Although these jumps don’t necessarily confuse the plot, they’re certainly jarring, especially since a simple rearrangement of scenes would improve the natural flow of the issue. The comic even kicks off with a non sequitur, opening to a full-page flashback that — while visually stunning — doesn’t pertain directly to this issue or the last. Likewise, the story moves too quickly in places where it would have benefitted from more development; for instance, Eve falls into bed with Nate within the first few pages. Again, this doesn’t particularly draw away from the story, but the scene certainly would have had a bigger payoff from a more established sexual tension.
These complications aside, “Coffin Hill” definitely has real potential. Kittredge, who is working here with a story that it genuinely captivating, writes dialogue that feels easy and natural. Though plentiful, Eve’s narration has a conversational sound to it, which dispenses a lot of information and exposition in an easy-to-read way. What’s more, Kittredge’s character building comes across just as organically through their interactions with one another. Eve’s relationships with the people of Coffin Hill are complicated; however, through her interaction with them, their characterizations become clear and comprehensive. For example, her exchange with her mother is particularly interesting for its bitter but concerned tones, capturing the complexity of a multifaceted character in a few lines. Kittredge leaves herself a lot to be mined with emotionally packed moments like this.
Miranda has a similarly hit-or-miss approach to this issue. Where his figure posturing feels natural and expressive, their faces are less so; if he keeps an eye for detail in things like Eve and Nate’s tattoos, then he lets slip other elements like the extremely outdated design and uniforms of the mental hospital. He does a fantastic job capturing the small town New England town through the architecture and backgrounds; on the other hand, he makes some questionable costuming choices, such as the doctor’s stereotypical round glasses and lab coat and Mrs. Coffin’s hair style, which doesn’t change between the ball to her casual outfit years later. Additionally, Eva De La Cruz’s colors bring an edgy, dark feel to the comic as a whole, utilizing shadows to their fullest extent for a creepy, horror-movie vibe; however, she does make a few odd choices here and there, such as giving every character blue eyes.
“Coffin Hill” #3 has the seeds of great potential in its natural-sounding dialogue, great characterization, and solid artwork. However, the book is unfortunately bogged down by awkward pacing and unoriginal character design. Kittredge and Miranda’s latest issue feels as though it’s on the verge of something great; if it nails down these loose threads, the book could become a must-read.