Coffin Bound is a comic book designed to speak to a very narrow group of people. If you can get on board with the gritty crime vibe mixed with Neil Gaiman spiritual weirdness and post-apocalyptic aesthetics then it's a series you'll immediately fall in love with. Writer Dan Watters (Lucifer) and artist Dani (2000AD) have double-downed on the divisive tone with Coffin Bound #2, and while not everyone will continue this march into the madness on the page, those who do will find themselves rewarded.
The second issue of Image Comics' runaway hit delivers more of what made the first installment great. It doesn’t care if you’re on board with the scenario. In fact, Coffin Bound #2 seems to want you to ask more questions than explore potential answers. This might be off-putting to some readers, but the quest to unlock how this strange, new world operates is constantly engaging.
Watters' script is sharp and concise despite never revealing its hand. The dialogue is often cryptic, but allow readers to peek into how the characters behave. Izzy's cadence is almost Shakespearean in some regards. She is a cipher to the lingo of the barren roads and dilapidated buildings of Coffin Bound #2. Her quest to erase all signs of her own existence lead to old connections both good and ill that will have ramifications for her and the people she holds dear.
There is a sense of urgency in Coffin Bound #2. While not a lot of ground is covered in terms of propelling the story forward (in fact, the pacing feels like its circling a carcass), the inner workings of the world are explained… slightly. Now, this isn't to say Coffin Bound is slow or boring. Quite the opposite actually. For readers who are willing to engage with a world existing in the same head-space as works like Sandman or Neverwhere, the languid pace of the larger story is nothing out of the ordinary. Reading Coffin Bound makes one feel like a lobster in a pot, unaware the water is gradually getting hotter until it's too late. This makes the promise of the eventual boil exciting and terrifying (especially for the hypothetical lobster).
Dani's artwork is almost as strong as it was in the first issue. Her gritty line work and explosive depictions of violence lend themselves well to the story. However, there are a few panels here and there which don't live up to the quality Dani has displayed before. There are few character reactions and some character models that feel unfinished or, for lack of a better phrase, "phoned in." It could just be a case of abstract artistic expression being employed deliberately and we're just missing the point. But it mostly feels like a talented artist getting the job done and focusing on the bigger set pieces.
This isn't to say Coffin Bound #2 is ugly -- well, it is ugly, but that's mostly by design -- it's just that the visual language feels slightly fractured in some sequences. Thankfully, it's not frequent enough to detract from the overall quality of the book in both its illustrations and writing. We'd love to see more work from Dani on other books. She's too unique of an artist to ignore because a few panels didn't quite work.
Overall Coffin Bound #2 is a whole lot of fun as long as you consider dark stories filled with dead characters "fun." Dan Watters is shaping up to be the go-to guy for weird fiction, and Dani's distinct artwork is a breath of fresh air. Coffin Bound is a consistently bizarre book, but that's really part of the charm, isn’t it?