Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Bulletproof Coffin

Written by David Hine and Shaky Kane
Art by Shaky Kane

When The Bulletproof Coffinfirst came out as a six-issue mini-series, I passed on it, despite the fact that it was receiving good reviews.  I had no real reason to pass it up, because I don't usually trade wait the titles I want to read, but the $3.99 price tag on each issue scared me off, because this was a title I couldn't get my head around based on the solicitations and reviews I'd read.

Really, this is a pretty complex comic, that brings to mind work like Grant Morrison's Animal Man and some of Alan Moore's work on Supreme.  Steve Newman (later Noman) is a voids contractor.  Basically, he cleans out the homes of the recently deceased (specialising, it seems, in the recently murdered), a good job for someone with a bit of an obsessive habit for collecting a variety of toys and comics.  He is especially fond of the output of Golden Nugget Publications, a company built around the work of two men - David Hine and Shaky Kane - which was pushed out of business by the dominant comics company Big Two.

Steve finds a cache of new issues of Golden Nugget comics in one house.  What's interesting about them is that they are all dated after Hine and Kane were bought out, and after Big Two had cancelled these titles.  Soon, Steve is reading his way through titles like 'Shield of Justice', 'Ramona, Queen of the Stone Age', and 'Coffin Fly'.  From there, he soon finds himself living through Coffin Fly's adventures in a future world overrun by zombie Vietnam War vets and dinosaurs.

The comics begin to show scenes from his own life, and as his heroes begin to meet some terrible fates, helped along by the silent Shadowmen, Steve learns that he must find the Creators - Hine and Kane themselves - in order to make things right.

There is a lot to like about this book - the metatextual fun of the plot, the satire of the comics industry, and the kooky art by Kane.  His work is like a mix of mid-career Keith Giffen, Frank Quitely, Michael Allred, and Steve Ditko.  This is a very good-looking, very smart comic.  I may have to start picking up The Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred, the new mini-series that started a couple of weeks ago...

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