There’s a lot of potential in “Coffin Hill” #1, the start of a new series by Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The interesting ideas are overwhelmed by repetitive storytelling, though Miranda’s visuals have great pop.
Kittredge spends a lot of time in this first issue building up the mystique and legend of the Coffin name, mostly through Eve’s narration. However, the narration is at war with itself, and frequently ideas actually contradict one another. It’s also extremely repetitive, which often leads to conflicting thoughts. It could have used a serious edit to distill some of the ideas and tighten up the execution. Coffin Hill clocks in at 24 pages, which is a deal considering the cover price, but a regular length issue with more focus would have been more desirable.
Kittredge’s story follows Eve Coffin, a young rookie cop in 2013 that has just cracked one of the biggest cases in Boston. Instantly famous for arresting The Ice Fisher serial killer, some madness goes down in Eve’s apartment and she ends up shot. The ten-years-ago flashback reveals the legend of the Coffin Family, where the story starts to fall apart with repetition and conflicting narration boxes, not to mention far too much “telling” instead of a more organic exploration of the world and family. In the end, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to know or think about the Coffin family except that they don’t seem nearly as scandalous as they’re supposed to. Eve leaves the hospital with a white streak in her hair and one bizarre eye with a scar through it — which is odd, since she didn’t appear shot in the eye. Perhaps it will be explained later but right now it looks like some convenient “we thought this would look cool” character design, which is rather irritating.
Miranda’s visuals are very pretty for the most part — crisp and clean with a punk rock edge and some real stand out moments. However, much like the script, the visuals could use some honing to focus on the meat of the story rather than the flashy surface. Miranda’s flashy bold work excels when she has a bit more room to spread her wings with powerful one-panel splash pages (or quieter four-or-five-panel pages), but the action suffers a bit, while the rendering and consideration gets thin on heavier pages. Still, the reveal scene in the woods during Eve’s flashback is stunning and terrifying, and given more of those opportunities, Miranda could really take this book to wonderful places. Similarly, Eva De La Cruz’s coloring has a fantastic punk rock pop to it, especially in the flashback scenes where she can really cut loose.
While “Coffin Hill” #1 isn’t entirely successful, there’s a good book somewhere here, and I’ll certainly give it another issue to find its legs. Kittredge and Miranda may have something wonderful in “Coffin Hill” if they can just pare it back, focus up and find its soul.