Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Coffin Hill, Volume 1: Forest of the Night Review (Caitlin Kittredge, Inaki Miranda)

Have you heard of Coffin Hill? No, me either, which is why I’m rewriting my first review which detailed the numerous problems that made the first volume such a failure – this title is on nobody’s radar (for good reason), it’s not a landmark book, nor will it be in hindsight, nor is it even a slightly important one, so it doesn’t deserve that level of scrutiny. No, this pathetic comic will be reviewed in broad strokes and then forgotten like it should be. 

Coffin Hill is the comic book version of a cruddy CW show. It stars a personality vacuum amongst a cast of one-dimensional nobodies in a plot that doesn’t make sense. It’s a supernatural story and is filled with clich├ęs you’ve seen it before in a hundred cheap horror movies. Eve Coffin is a witch, there’s an evil spirit on the loose, and it’s up to her to stop it – somehow, it manages to be even more boring than you’d expect yet more confusing too. 

Caitlin Kittredge simply doesn’t understand how to write a comic – her scene transitions are awkward and don’t make sense when read in a sequence, her dialogue is corny, and the scenes themselves feel recycled and unoriginal. The story pointlessly jumps from 2003 to 2013 with few of the scenes in 2003 adding to what’s happening in 2013. In a good book, each scene should add to the story rather than stagnate uselessly, which is what most of this book does. 

All of the “characters” are forgettable nothings but the ending really underlines just how poorly Kittredge has written them. She hinges the “cliffhanger/shock twist” ending on a character who I’m not sure was even in the book – either way, rather than gasp, I belched and wondered “Who the hell is that? Why should I care?”. And I was paying attention – I read it in one sitting because I knew if I stopped once, I wouldn’t pick it up again. Anyway it doesn’t really matter because I’m never going to read another Caitlin Kittredge book again, let alone Volume 2 of this tripe. 

The Dave Johnson covers make the book look good but don’t expect that level of artistry inside – Inaki Miranda’s art is mostly uninspired, clunky and amateurish. I feel like he’s going for Mike Allred’s style but coming up way short. 

Coffin Hill is a boring, badly written mess that fails to engage on every level and leaves zero impression on the reader. I’d say don’t bother but I can’t imagine there were many people lining up to read this anyway. So long, Coffin Hill/Caitlin Kittredge/Inaki Miranda – you were all awful!


This is an aside rather than part of the review, it’s just something I’ve noticed in recent years about Vertigo. 

I had a lot of time for Vertigo. This is a company that put out such quality comics that for a while a few years ago, Vertigo comics were the only comics I read. Of my favourites they’ve published are: The Sandman, Transmetropolitan, Y: The Last Man, Northlanders, and my favourite comics series of all time, Scalped. Other titles I’ve enjoyed include The Invisibles, Sweet Tooth and iZombie as well as the standalone graphic novels A History of Violence, Pride of Baghdad, The Nobody, Sloth, and Get Jiro! 

With Coffin Hill, I’ve realised that over the years I went from reading only Vertigo comics to reading just one – Scott Snyder’s The Wake (which is only ok if I’m being honest). They’re still publishing titles: The Unwritten, Fables, American Vampire, Astro City, FBP, Hinterkind and Dead Boy Detectives, but, in my mind, they’re all pretty terrible. I’ve tried reading all of them – some I’ve made it all the way through a book – but none are of the same standard as the glory years of titles above. 

And then I realised I’m reading a lot of Image comics these days – Velvet, Chew, The Walking Dead, Jupiter’s Legacy, Starlight, Sex Criminals, Rat Queens, Luther Strode – and realised that, back in the day, these would have been Vertigo titles. Now? All the would-be Vertigo titles have shifted to Image, helping make them the third largest comics publisher in the world, right behind DC in second. 

It’s disappointing to see but Vertigo – once the market leaders for innovative, exciting comics – now publish the also-rans. It seems the rot of bad comics at DC has spread, like a cancer, to its sister publication. I’ll recommend a lot of Vertigo stuff from the 90s and 00s but nowadays? Nowadays you get crap like Coffin Hill and Hinterkind (which is another review), while Jason Aaron’s new non-superhero series, Southern Bastards, is being published over at Image rather than the publisher of his Scalped series. 

Goodbye, Vertigo - you were great once!

Coffin Hill Vol. 1: Forest of The Night

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