Best Shots Advance Reviews: BULLETPROOF COFFIN, SCAM

Best Shots Advance Reviews


The Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred #1

Written by David Hine

Art by Shaky Kane

Lettering by Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt

Published by Image Comics

Review by Edward Kaye

‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Disinterred is a sequel to last year’s indie comics hit , which was a rather bizarre postmodern homage to pulp comics that begins when a man discovers a dusty old box containing comics that were never actually published. Soon the lines between fact and fiction begin to blur for the protagonist as the pulp characters come to life, he takes on the identity of post-apocalyptic hero the Coffin Fly, and is hunted down by mysterious black-and-white bad guys. It was an incredibly smart and densely layered mini-series, and David Hine and Shaky Kane even made an appearance themselves as the story took on a metafictional twist.

As far as I can tell from the opening issue, this second series doesn’t seem to follow on directly from the plot of the first, and the debut issue is more of an origin story for the character of the Shield of Justice. As such, the plot should be very easy to follow for new readers, or just casual readers, as it can essential be read as a done-in-one story. The issue is a detective tale that features the protagonist Johnny P. Satre, as he and his partner investigate the case of the Full Moon Murders — following a trail of headless corpses that leads to murder, betrayal, and fantastical escapism. The story also features a brief appearance from the Coffin Fly and the Unforgiving Eye, as their story (scheduled to be told in issue #3) crosses paths with that of The Shield of Justice.

In keeping with the pulp/noir flavor of the tale, the story is told through a mix of dialogue and inner monologue narration. With this style of story telling comes a certain amount of exposition, but thankfully David Hine reins it in enough so that Shaky Kane’s artwork is also able to do its part of the storytelling. Hine’s storytelling here seems a lot more straightforward than it was in the first series, i.e. the metafictional elements aren’t quite as prominent and the comic within a comic element seem to be absent. He does approach the story in a rather interesting way though, by misleading the reader into believing that the character we meet on the opening page is the focus of the story, when really he’s just an incidental character. The lines between fiction and reality are once again blurred as the protagonist lives half of his life in a daydream where he is a communist fighting vigilante, and his partner is his sidekick with whom he shares a passionate love affair. This leads to the detective looking at the case from a unique viewpoint, which others believe to be fantastical and delusional. Whether or not these clues really are what they seem to be, and whether the character is justified in his actions, is a mystery that is left open for the reader to interpret.

Shaky Kane is an artist whose work I have been following for many years in UK publications like , , and . Kane’s artwork has a very unique flavor to it, which is instantly recognizable. His linework has a very clean, almost cartoon-like minimalist look to it, which may remind readers of the work of Paul Grist or Gilbert Hernandez. In a nod to the pulp serials from which the comic draws inspiration, his male lead has a carved from stone stoicism about him, and his female partner is a voluptuous temptress. The characters don’t display a great deal of emotional breadth, but in his defense, the story doesn’t really call for much.

His inking style is a big part of what gives Kane’s artwork such a unique quality. He favors a nice thick line-weight in most cases, but what is strange is that his lines have a sort of pixelated quality to them, sort of like they’ve been drawn in MS Paint. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, but it’s the best way I can think to describe them.

Kane’s colors also add to the unique look of his final artwork, as he doesn’t always use the colors you would expect in a scene, often opting for vibrant purples, blues, and reds, or doing a one color wash of a whole scene. This gives the art a slightly trippy, psychedelic feel to it.

The Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred #1is an intriguing follow-up to the original series, which takes a slightly different approach to storytelling, which makes it highly accessible to new readers. Fans of pulp magazine stories will find a lot to love here.


Scam #1

Written by Joe Mulvey

Art by Joe Mulvey, Andrew Crossley, Jules Rivera and John Ercek

Lettering by AndWorld Design

Published by Comix Tribe

Review by Jeff Marsick

'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Joe Mulvey breathes fresh life into the indie scene with his first foray as writer and artist. Pitched as " meets ", a team of super-villains plans a casino heist as a means of retribution against a teammate who betrayed them two years ago. Sure to confound matters later on in the series is a group of freelancers whose intent to capture the villains' version of Danny Ocean brings with it enough violence to add a few shakes of to the book's vibe.

A couple things stand out after reading Scam #1. First off, it's 44 pages of story for a penny shy of four dollars. Put the calculator away, I'll do the math for you: that's great bang for your buck. Second, the artwork isn't your typical indie fare: characters are unique and distinct from one another, the colors aren't from the usual garishly hued palette and the panels don't look like they've been inked with a Sharpie Magnum. The contrast of shadows and lighting lends enough depth to each panel that the scenes (and especially the action sequences) seem to jump off the page.

Mr. Mulvey's already got me on the hook with a story about super villains getting even against one of their own, but the concept that gets better once I find out that there are ramifications if a person uses their power: it hurts them and they need to recover, as if it's an extreme physical exertion. I love that he's thrown such a collar around his characters, which is a refreshing take on supers and should add a degree of difficulty to the success of the heist. Mr. Mulvey's sequential storytelling is impressive as well, with pages that are well plotted, nicely framed and balanced. One of my favorites is a nine-panel layout with dialogue that could easily feel crammed but doesn't. Dialogue between the characters is natural and believable and just enough, no overblown verbiage for the sake of connecting plot dots for the reader.

I'm not one to often use the word "fun" to describe a comic, but this would be the very definition of the word. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for something different and unique, especially in a team book, although good luck finding it. Scam #1 sold out of its initial 777 print run to a select group of stores around the country, so you may have to try and grab a copy from the Comix Tribe website. Trust me, you want to hunt down this book.

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