"Coffin Hill: Volume 1 – Forest of the Night" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Vertigo
Written by Caitlin Kittredge
Illustrated by Inaki Miranda, Stephen Sadowski & Mark Farmer
2013, 168 Pages
Trade Paperback released on May 20th, 2014
As I read more and more horror comics, I am continually reminded of why I will never go camping. Forgetting for a moment things like the lack of electricity and the fact that you have to take a dump like the bear in the Charmin toilet paper commercials, some crazy shit happens in the woods. That was the case for Eve Coffin, the screw-up teenager of the illustrious Coffins, who went out in the forest near her parents' mansion with some friends and summoned some sort of demon because she didn't really know what she was doing. Fast forward to the morning; she's naked and covered in blood, one of her friends is missing, and the other has lost her mind. Welcome to Coffin Hill, everyone.
Jump ahead ten years where Eve has gone from a screw-up teenager to a screw-up police officer who stumbles her way through a huge case before getting shot in the eye. For some reason, she decides to go back home and finds that the thing she brought forth a decade ago is still hanging out in the woods eating people.
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The problem right off the bat with Coffin Hill is that the main character is completely unlikable. She's devoid of any real personality. It's difficult to feel sorry for her as she grew up a spoiled rich kid that rebelled against her parents because she had nothing better to do. Then she closes a case that would make any cop's career and decides to throw it all away to go back home and mope around her old digs. She comes out with some snappy dialogue here and there, but that doesn't seem hard to do when you've lived in Boston for a few years and you go back to a small town with a population of less than 300 people.
Eve is the personification of every goth-girl fantasy ever thought of. She's incredibly pale with a handful of tattoos, ripped shirt, and studded dog collar. Her present day look is simpler, trading in the mini-skirt made of feathers for a basic leather ensemble, complete with a blackened eye from the bullet she took. I couldn't help shake the feeling that her face bears a striking resemblance to Chucky.
Artist Inaki Miranda's character design is beautiful. There is not an ugly person in this comic, even when you get to the trashy part of town. The real scary elements come in when the creature in the woods comes out to play. There are moments where it is not unlike the alien symbiote that would become known as Venom in the Marvel Universe, oozing black with tendrils flailing and a jaw full of sharp teeth, ready to engulf Eve in a heartbeat. It seems to take over people like a disease, possessing them until their bodies give out.
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The imagery provided by Miranda is suitably spooky, with a bunch of crows often seen flying around, behind, and out of Eve. It's like a bizarro version of a John Woo film. Some of them are just hanging out in scenes for no particular reason. Maybe they're Eve's spirit animal.
The real treasures in this trade paperback are the covers from Dave Johnson. This is an artist that has perfected the cover image, providing an iconic shot with just enough story elements to pull you in.
Coffin Hill could have been an interesting story. Who knows? Maybe it picks up in the next story arc. As it stands, Eve Coffin is a tough protagonist to deal with as she just stumbles through life with no real purpose. It's one thing to be alone against the world, but at least have a reason for doing so.