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Confuse fantasy with reality…

10 Aug

Welcome one and all to another walk down odd-ball lane!

What’s on the agenda for today you ask? Well its simple really – today we’re going to discuss a rare gem that I had the excellent fortune to come across earlier this year which I really would like to share simply because the book deserves to be read by as many as are willing.

Our topic for today is Image Comics’ “The Bulletproof Coffin” by legendary (for some anyway) British writer David Hine along with Shaky Kane on art duty. Hine, known mostly for his work on Spawn, has actually worked on an amazing cross section of genres and character’s such as Spiderman, Transformers, X-Men (during Civil War), Silent War and 2000AD (Tharg’s Future Shocks) among others.
His co-hort in this descent into madness is Shaky Kane, a British “psychedelic artist” who has worked on many titles for 2000AD among other comic projects and has a fairly unique style of art that translates superbly to this most surreal project.

So with introductions out of the way, on to the comic!
(as always, the images are high-res, click to enlarge and enjoy!)

A simple 6-issue limited series, this is a most surprising and captivating story that can be safely classified as “Meta”, something that fans of TV’s ‘Community’ should understand immediately – although I caution even them, it is not the light hearted twist on reality that you might find there.
No, this is an exploration into adventure, action, emotion and a little bit of nuttiness too – now that I think on it, more like ‘The Twilight Zone’ stories in many ways, do you remember that show? I used to love it! Among other great moments, it gave us iconic stuff like William Shatner screaming about gremlins on the wings of the plane.

But enough digression.

Jackpot baby!

This is a story that starts and builds from a moment that is one all comic fans secretly dream about – often unknown even to themselves. I refer of course to the dream of one day going go clean out someone’s old things like from an attic or some-such and finding hidden among the junk and flotsam a cache of classic comics, lost to the ages and valuable beyond measure!
Full of references and homages to the golden age of comics as each issue brings with it comics within comics that are nothing but sheer unadulterated fun to read, this series really does cater to the fan of the good old-days who also loves a deep and well thought-out story.

I hesitate to get too far about the stories content as this is a book that builds detail and concept almost anew with every issue, keeping you gripped and entertained while at the same time strangely confounded at every turn just as you think you’ve got it figured out right up until the neatly wrapped up finale.

Beware the Shadow Men…

It is worth mentioning that this is probably one of the very, very few limited series which upon reaching the end you would love to see more, but find it a perfectly constructed final couple of pages after a maddening ride and would not want more because it might take away from this near perfectly balanced and narrated story.

Set up like a Noir-ish murder mystery complete with shady bad-men who seem to always be around somewhere, secret doors and compartments, hidden secrets, dark pasts and a Philip Marlowe like hero who is just a regular guy in the wrong place at the wrong time – or is he?

Through this crazy game of cat and mouse… and mouse… and mouse… and… something… well you get the idea! Through it all we get to follow our simple hero Steve Newman – a house cleaner for the recently departed after his latest haul brings him far more then he ever bargained for – as he tries to figure out who he is, what is going on around him and what is real anymore.

The eponymous vehicle of mass-destruction!

Filled with (for me) instant classic characters like the Coffin Fly who drives around in his tank, aptly named The Bulletproof Coffin (is it important or just a cool name? you’ll have to read to know, I’ll never tell!)

You get to see heroes like Ramona, the buxom Queen of the Dinosaurs!

See evil take a SERIOUS beating at the hands of The Shield of Justice, walking the beat no one else can!

Marvel at the The Unforgiving Eye which see’s all, bringing his own twist of justice to the guilty!

Be amazed as you witness the adventures of The Red Wraith, the ghost who shambles!

And last but certainly not least, what old-fashioned adventure romp would be complete without an army of crazy goons to do battle with while the shadowy villains remain out of play till the end? And so we bear witness to the Zombie Nam Vets as they make life hell for our heroes!

The Coffin Fly himself!

Intrigued? I hope so, because regardless of what kind of comic you read – unless all you read is kiddie comics or simple stuff like *shudder* Archie! – this is truly a marvel considering the mass market superhero adventure fare that is the standard. 
And of course the amazingly rendered artwork that hearkens back to a bygone age and complements the narrative so beautifully is just the icing on this layered cake!

Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of the mainstream comics and have been and remain a fan of a great many for ages. But that does not preclude me from being drawn into and heartily appreciating when something out of the ordinary falls out of the sky like this little wonder. 

If you like to take chances on unusual things and have a taste for the slightly quirky then you should most definitely be reading this book!

Until next time my fellow wayfarers! Cheers!