Archive for Coffin Hill

Which Wytch?


Wytches #2

Sailor Rooks has apparently been attacked in the night by… something. She thinks it was Annie, the bully who vanished while tormenting Sailor, and the bite mark she sustained has now turned into some sort of lump that’s keeping the doctors mystified. The lump leads to a weird emotional trauma during a swim test, and Sailor bugs out of school. She’s seen and followed by her uncle, who’s concerned about her — but there are things in the woods waiting for both of them. Meanwhile, Sailor’s father is attacked by a man in their home, and Sailor’s mother remembers just what caused the car accident that paralyzed her.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Most of the issue is mundane, maybe a little bit creepy. But ye gods, the last five or six pages are one hammer blow of horror after another, most of it rendered mostly obscured so you can’t be entirely sure if what you’re seeing is real or just in the characters’ imaginations. And we’re just into the second issue!


Ghosted #15

Danny Trick, the son of one of Jackson Winters’ oldest friends, is a disturbed necromancer, using his magical ghost candles to control the spirits of the undead. If Jackson won’t agree to commit suicide so Danny can get control of his ghost, he’s going to let his spectral goon squad tear Jackson and Nina apart — unless Jackson’s own spectral guardian, Anderson, can manage to hold them all off. Luckily, Nina has a few hidden talents to help them out — but even if they survive, many of Jackson’s old enemies are uniting to take him on together.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a good story with a nice denoument and a decent cliffhanger. Danny was a pretty good villain, and I’m sorry to see him go — but the way this series goes, death isn’t a guarantee he won’t make a return.


Coffin Hill #13

Doyle, the cop heading up the task force looking for the Ice Fisher serial killer, is himself the Ice Fisher, and he’s captured Eve Coffin, with the intent of either killing her or convincing her to join the serial killer business with him. Can Eve stop him? Can he ever be revealed as the murderer?

Verdict: Thumbs down. This one has just gotten too convoluted, especially with the current storyarc’s flips from the past to the present. I’ve had trouble keeping all the characters defined for the past several issues — and the character who shows up at the cliffhanger is even someone I can’t remember ever being discussed before. So I think I’ll be bidding this series farewell, even though I’m already missing Eve’s creepy-awesome scarred-black eye…

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Season of the Wytch


Wytches #1

Scott Snyder is the best horror writer working in comics right now, and Jock is one of the best at non-traditional, moody, gorgeous artwork. Putting them together on a new horror title this close to Halloween is something I would never have been able to resist.

Meet the Rooks family, new to town after moving when their daughter Sailor was involved in a mysterious disappearance. Dad is a cartoonist, Mom is in a wheelchair, Sailor is a misfit, even without the questions about why a psychotic bully “vanished” right in front of her. And weird things are going on around the family — a deer gets into the house and then dies bloodily in front of them. Something calls to Sailor from the treetops. And there’s a history of horrifying deaths in the area, spanning decades. Something awful is coming for the Rooks…

Verdict: It’s a gloriously creepy first issue, especially with that near-perfect cover. It promises scares bloody, jagged, and over-the-top, as well as quiet, shadowed, and subtle. I’ll be honest — I’d love for this one to go weekly ’til Halloween. It looks like it’s going to give me exactly the kind of horror I enjoy the most.


Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1

Archie Comics is really embracing their new horror comics more enthusiastically than I would’ve ever expected. Their new title focuses on the origin of Sabrina Spellman, the Teenage Witch, born the daughter of a warlock and a mortal woman and now living with her witch aunts Hilda and Zelda, along with her talking cat Salem. In the old Archie comics, this was all an occasion for fun, comedy, and romance. It ain’t like that in the new one.

In this issue, mostly set in the late 1950s and 1960s, the Witches Council lobotomizes Sabrina’s mother when she tries to escape with her infant daughter and later turns her father into a tree. Sabrina is placed with her almost entirely evil aunts, and when Sabrina’s classmates express prejudice against half-breed witches, they move to a little town called Greendale. She meets her cousin Ambrose, a spell-casting bad boy with a couple cobras as familiars, and he helps her land a boyfriend, handsome Harvey Kinkle. But there’s trouble outside of town — a pair of foolish witches from Riverdale have called up something they can’t put down again…

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a spooky and funny debut, with all the familiar beats of the old Sabrina comics twisted into black comedy and/or straight horror. The scariest moments come at the very beginning, with Sabrina’s mother and her desperate and doomed flight through the forest, while the funniest comes toward the end, with Betty and Veronica trying to summon a succubus to help them decide who gets Archie…


Ghosted #14

An occult motorcycle gang is gunning for Danny Trick because he’s been using their sacred virgin-blood candles for purposes they don’t approve of. Anderson’s ghost is tearing the bikers apart and freaking out Oliver King. Jackson Winters and Nina Bloodcrow are keeping their wits about them, and it’s not long before the bikers have all been wiped out. Danny takes them to his hideout — and almost immediately betrays them. He’s a secret black magician, and he wants to figure out what Jackson’s connection is to the spirit world. Too bad Jackson has to die to reveal that…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Plenty of action, plenty of style, a juicy betrayal — the series is still running the supernatural heist game hard and very well.


Coffin Hill #12

Another one of Vertigo’s comics where they start the story on the cover. Seems like a decent gimmick, but this one isn’t nearly as eye-catching as the “Astro City” cover was.

Eve Coffin suspects one of her fellow police officers of being the Ice Fisher serial killer, so she prepares a potion called Liar’s Drops, designed to reveal untruths. The two detectives leading the investigation both pass the test — unless one of them is a warlock and able to suppress his reaction to the potion. Meanwhile, in the present, Eve’s boyfriend and his rotten brother are trying to break her out of jail while magical monsters try to kill her.

Verdict: Ehhh. I must say, the identity of the Ice Fisher was the most badly telegraphed reveal I’ve seen in ages. The killer has been all but wearing a sign that reads “I’m the Ice Fisher!” for the last several issues.

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Pick a Card, Any Card


Ghosted #13

Jackson Winters meets up with the latest member of his team — an old lady with a bunch of voodoo dolls. A little investigating in an unnervingly ghost-filled mental ward leads them on a search for a magic-user’s black market called the Death Card, where they meet up with Danny Trick, the late Trick’s son — and it turns out that Danny is in a heap of trouble of his own.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good, creepy stuff mixed with black humor and crime hijinks. I do wish we had a list of our characters — they’re getting more and more numerous, and it’s harder to keep track of all of them.


Lazarus #11

While Eve Carlyle is about to get some of her more advanced abilities surgically installed, she also begins to question whether she’s actually a Carlyle at all. Meanwhile, Sonja Bittner, the sword-slinging Lazarus for the Family Bittner, comes calling on Carlyle territory — Jakob Hock has Jonah Carlyle and wants to call a Conclave of all the Families to determine whether he’ll be returned.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a wonderfully political issue, with lots of behind-the-scenes negotiation and analysis and scheming. Sonja Bittner is an interesting character — so buttoned-down and controlled that she seems to be more of a robot than a human, at least mentally — an interesting change from Eve, who is also controlled and careful, but also completely human in her thinking.


Coffin Hill #11

This one’s been going on a while, and it’s maybe getting a liiiiittle bit confusing. But basically, in the four-years-ago timeline, Eve Coffin is starting to suspect that the serial killer in Boston may be a police officer, and in the current timeline, Nate’s brother Patrick seems to be a murderous witch-hater — despite using some magic himself.

Verdict: There are some interesting bits here and there — enjoyed the analysis on why the killer might be a cop, liked Patrick’s scary eyeless mentor — but it’s getting to be more and more of a muddle as things go along. This extended timeline split should maybe have been limited to only a few issues instead of a long storyarc.

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Shuttering in the Cold


Shutter #5

Kate Kristopher has just met the little brother she never knew she had. He seems like a nice kid. Likes dinosaurs, is really nervous around Kate (she keeps cussing and yelling at all the other monsters in the mansion), and is just under nine years old — which sets off another round of cussing from Kate, because her dad died ten years ago — and, as we find out, in entirely shocking circumstances.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The real magic in this issue is the interaction between Kate and her newfound brother, Chris Jr. — as well as Kate’s more furious interaction with her former nanny. Which isn’t to say there isn’t some wonderfully weird action, particularly in the flashback to Kate’s final mission with her dad.


Coffin Hill #10

In the present day, Eve Coffin is in prison, hated by both the prisoners and the guards, while demonic monsters stalk teenaged girls in the forest. In the past, Officer Eve Coffin is working on a way to catch the serial killer prowling in Boston.

Verdict: Thumbs down. The main problem is that the story is all over the place, across two different time periods, nine different settings, and at least a dozen different characters. I felt worn out just trying to keep up with what was going on.

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The Spooky Stuff

It’s Friday the 13th, and that seems like a great time to review some horror comics.


Morella and The Murders in the Rue Morgue

Another of superstar horror illustrator Richard Corben’s adaptations of the works of Edgar Allan Poe — this time, we get the mystical reincarnation shocker “Morella” and the groundbreaking mystery “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.”

Verdict: Thumbs up. Y’all know I love Corben, right? It’s always a good thing to read the work of a true master of horror art.


Coffin Hill #8

The bulk of this issue is a flashback to Eve Coffin’s career as a cop — as a rookie, she was assigned to a police task force to track down the notorious Ice Fisher serial killer. She deduces fairly quickly that the killer is a secret witch who is murdering women as sacrifices. The two detectives on the task force aren’t entirely sure what to think of her — the one doesn’t believe in the supernatural; the other thinks her help could get him into the FBI. And Internal Affairs suspects something about her from the very start.

Verdict: Ehh, I dunno. It’s a very nice police procedural — in fact, it’s so good, there’s just no reason to go shoehorning a bunch of supernatural stuff into the story.


Manifest Destiny #7

The Lewis and Clark expedition seems to be going well. The crew are getting adjusted well to their mission, the townspeople rescued from the fort are getting acquainted with the crew, and Sacagawea is capturing giant beetles for dissection. But rough times are just below the surface — one of the new recruits from the fort has figured out the expedition has a secret agenda, and Clark would prefer to respond to her discovery by having her murdered. And when the ship runs aground on a gigantic underwater arch, just like the one near the fort, it means much worse troubles are coming soon.

Verdict: Thumbs up. More exploration, more bizarre discoveries, more of the worst of human nature, all wrapped up in the cockeyed optimism of long-past history.


The Returning #4

Hordes of changers are after Beth Turner. They go after her rescuer, they go after her last friend and his family, and they plan to kill her and turn the whole world over to the demons inhabiting their bodies. Can Beth survive?

Verdict: Thumbs down. It just never turned out to be particularly interesting — and definitely not very scary. Too bad.

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The Empire Diaries


Evil Empire #1

Okay, the premise of this sci-fi comic is a look back at a world in which America has become a hardline fascist dictatorship to discover how it changed from a normal 21st-century media-driven democracy into a society where brownshirts murder you for helping homeless people.

After a brief look at the fascist future, we drop back a quarter-century to meet Reese Greenwood, a rebellious, status quo-hating pop star who raps about tearing down the system and how much she hates both political parties. After a concert in Washington, D.C., she meets one of the presidential candidates, Sam Duggins, a young, single liberal running against Kenneth Laramy, a married family-values conservative. After Duggins tells Reese he’s a fan of her music, both of them learn that Laramy’s wife has been savagely murdered, stabbed in the neck by an unknown assailant. Reese ends up getting serious criticism — one of her best-known songs refers to stabbing a politician in the neck — and Sam Duggins takes some heat off her when he interrupts her MTV interview. Reese and Duggins end up attending the funeral together, where everyone discovers something absolutely shocking…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m probably hooked on this series for a while. The characters are interesting and the art is pretty nice. The cliffhanger is a pretty big shocker. I’m still dubious on how this is all going to lead to a fascist dictatorship in 25 years, but I wouldn’t expect them to tell the whole story in the first issue…


Coffin Hill #7

A done-in-one issue starring Eleanor Coffin, who, if I remember correctly, is Eve’s mother. The year is 1958, and Ellie is roaming the Coffin Hill woods trying to find the infamous Coffin Witch to beg for her help. She’s being stalked by her father — but her father was murdered by her mother just days ago. As he chases her through the forest, she finds brief respite with a girl named Evelyn, but she can’t escape from her undead father — but does he actually want what’s best for her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nicely spooky short story full of ghosts and evil and temptation. Not sure the story is quite as good as you might expect from that title — but on the other hand, it’d be hard for anything to live up to an awesome title like “The Sole Unquiet Thing,” which should probably have been attached to a few of my more epic nightmares…

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Return of the Living Dead


The Returning #1

A new horror series from Jason Starr and Andrea Mutti, set in a world where the dead are returning to life to commit acts of murder — but not the way you’d expect. Instead, people who’ve had near-death experiences reawaken as normal people — but at some point, they just flip out and start killing people. As a result, society is gripped with complete paranoia — after all, the potential killers look just like anyone else. They’re not rotting, they’re not shambling, they don’t have glowing eyes. Anyone could be a changer.

Anyway, our lead character is a high school girl named Beth Turner on her way to prom with her boyfriend. There’s a car accident — her date dies in the wreck, and Beth dies briefly. When she awakens after her coma, she’s strapped to a hospital bed while her nurses debate whether to sedate her or just shoot her. Her father’s attorneys get her released from the hospital, but she’s confronted with angry protestors, bullying students, and weird changer fetishists. And when someone kills her father and brother, she has to go on the run. Is there anyone she can turn to for help?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a nice concept — zombies without the zombies, and with extra paranoia. The art’s a tad funky, but it’ll probably be great for depicting horror. And I love the fact that all of our characters genuinely look distinct from each other — no cookie-cutter faces here, and that’s freakin’ awesome.


Coffin Hill #6

Eve Coffin has a monster to stop. A demonic spirit has taken over the body of her old friend Mel, and she now threatens the life of her kinda-sorta-boyfriend Nate. Eve has to call up the spirit of her long-dead friend Dani — and then has to ingest a potion that could end up being fatal. And even then, the monster might be way too powerful for her to stop without more help…

Verdict: Thumbs up. A great end to the first storyarc. Gross stuff, scary stuff, spooky stuff, sexy stuff, and Eve’s glorious evil black eyeball.


Manifest Destiny #5

The Lewis and Clark Expedition has to deal with worse than wild animals and hostile natives — try monstrous plant-zombies, for one. After they finally get back to their boat, they reveal that they’re not going to just flee — they need to wipe out the threat of the zombies once and for all. Luckily, they’ve got a miracle thought lost to history — Greek fire. They return to the forest and look for signs of zombie infection. And they find it, unfortunately — almost every animal in the woods has been taken over already.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Man, that’s a lot of awesome plant zombies in this comic. You need zombie squirrels and deer and bears in your life? Sure, you do.

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Green Day


She-Hulk #1

Yay, a new She-Hulk comic! They keep canceling She-Hulk books, then keep bringing ’em back. You’d think they’d learn to just keep the series running, fer cry-eye.

We start out with Jennifer Walters looking forward to a highly favorable annual review and a big bonus check from the partners at her current law firm. But it turns out that it doesn’t matter to them how many billable hours she’s put in, how much money she’s earned for the firm, how many cases she’s won — all they wanted from her was a bunch of superheroes as clients. But after she walks out, she quickly gets a new client — Holly Harrow, widow of Dr. Jonas Harrow, criminal scientist. Holly says Stark Industries stole some of her husband’s technology. Jennifer figures she can get the whole thing settled with a friendly conversation with Tony Stark, but instead, she gets shunted over to Legal — not the Legal Department, but a dry-bones legal eagle called simply Legal. He makes it clear that the corporation will give Holly no money, and they’ll bury She-Hulk under so much legal paperwork, even she won’t be able to lift it. Can Jennifer win the case?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not that surprising that Marvel’s going with the “She-Hulk: Super-Lawyer” premise again — it’s a good one that’s been popular every time it’s been produced. What makes it a bit more interesting this time is that it’s written by Charles Soule, who actually is a lawyer. And it’s looking like it’ll be interesting to get a real lawyer’s perspective on the legal matters in the Marvel Universe. The chief interesting thing in this issue is that the law isn’t depicted as an intrinsically moral force. She-Hulk is a hero working for a supervillain’s widow, and she faces the lawyer for another superhero. Who’s on the side of right, and who’s on the side of wrong? Neither one — they’re just doing their jobs.

Javier Pulido’s art is initially a little off-putting — Shulkie’s chin sometimes seems comically ginormous — but the style grows on you fast. It’s good for personality and facial expressions and body language, good for action, good for quiet moments. It’s fantastically designed, and ultimately, it’s a lot of fun to look at.

Yay, a new She-Hulk comic! Hope they keep this one going for a nice, long time.


Manifest Destiny #4

The Lewis and Clark Expedition is trapped behind the walls of a near-deserted fort, besieged on the outside by bison/minotaur monsters and from within by plant-zombies. It’s decided that they’ll have to make a run overland to try to get to their boat, but that means some of the crew will have to sacrifice themselves to distract the minotaurs — but it turns out someone has already slaughtered the minotaurs! It’s Toussaint Charbonneau and his wife Sacagawea! (Actually, though Charbonneau takes all the credit, Sacagawea actually did all the slaughterin’. With the minotaurs out of the way, it should be an easy hike back to the boat, right? Well, maybe not…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not quite as over-the-top whackaloon as the previous issues, but I’m looking forward to seeing what the series is going to do with Sacagawea — and the cliffhanger, while expected, is still well-done.


Coffin Hill #5

Eve Coffin, ex-cop and black-magic witch, has to deal with the fact that some dark, eldritch force has taken over the body of her old friend Mel. In addition, she’s finally got a lead on the kids who’ve gone missing around Coffin Hill — and there may be an unexpected family connection to the mystery.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent creepy horror and some fine twists on the ongoing mystery. I hope you’re reading this — it’s one of the most enjoyable horror comics on the stands right now.

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Post Ghosties


Ghosted #6

When last we saw Jackson Winters, he’d got away with stealing a bunch of ghosts, heisting a tidy sum of money, and getting revenge on an awful old bastard. Now he’s hiding out in the tropics and enjoying a life of leisure — but old enemies are trying to track him down, and after they shoot the heck out of him and his old con artist pal Trick, his abductors tell him what they want him to do: steal more ghosts.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see this series continuing — I wasn’t sure whether it’d be back, or if it’d switch over to more mainstream heists, but I’m glad to see it’ll continue with the previous winning formula. I’m also grooving on the groovy weirdness of our group of villains — a wealthy organized crime cartel completely run by Native Americans.


Coffin Hill #4

Eve Coffin’s best friend Mel has emerged from her catatonic state — but something’s very much not right. Might be that she recovered too quickly. Might be how she seems to know things she could never actually know. Might be how she’s got inky black monster goo that oozes out of her eyes and mouth. Can Eve save herself? Can she save Nate? Can she save the missing children?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fun writing and art, keen dialogue, ever-rising tension, and so wonderfully creepy. Hope you’re reading and enjoying this one, kids.

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Chained Coffin


Coffin Hill #3

Something dark and dreadful is in the woods near where Eve Coffin grew up. Seeking answers, she goes home and confronts her mother, who, like Eve, is a powerful witch. Eve also visits the local insane asylum to visit an old friend who got driven mad by Eve’s black magic. And it turns out the doctor running the asylum may not be entirely stable himself. Is Eve ever going to get to the bottom of this case — or just to the bottom of a shallow grave?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s spooky and weird and occasionally actually unnerving. I’m still having fun with it. And Eve’s weird cracked blackened eye may be a big part of the fun…


Manifest Destiny #2

The Lewis and Clark expedition has run into a serious snag — they’ve managed to kill a gigantic bison centaur that attacked them, and the crew is understandably freaked out about that — especially when the autopsy reveals that it’s a juvenile. And things get weirder when they see a woman throw herself off a cliff — and then her body disappears. And then a herd of the bison centaurs attacks. Most of the crew manage to get safely into a nearby fort — which is mysteriously deserted. It is deserted, isn’t it? Mmmmaybe not…

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s very weird, yes, but what really drives the story forward is a huge amount of paranoid tension. The expedition is in an untamed wilderness, possibly surrounded on all sides by hostile monsters — and even when they make it to safety, we still expect something horrible to spring out and attack. So far, it’s wonderful daylight horror.


Lazarus #5

We get a quick look at Forever Carlyle’s less-than-ideal childhood, mostly devoid of love or affection and devoted to combat training. Back in the present, Forever tries to track her renegade brother, runs into some nogoodniks on the border of the family’s territory, and gets shot in the back by the nogoodniks. Of course, Forever is extremely hard to kill, and she manages to throw enough fear into the nogoodniks to get them to execute the guy who shot her. But a lot of the drama in this issue focuses on a small family of Waste — the bulk of the population with few resources and no benefits from contact with or service to the Family. The Barretts live in Montana and are facing a catastrophic flood. Can they get the Family to provide them any assistance or are they, like the rest of the Waste, just hopelessly out of luck?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The whole thing has a really strong focus on just how crappy this world is for everyone in it. Forever is loved by no one, the nogoodniks can’t even rely on each other, and while the Barretts may be better off than some of the Waste, they ultimately have no support and no defense against tragedy. It’s a thoroughly brutal comic, and I reckon it deserves to win all kinds of awards.


Day Men #2

Five months between Issue #1 and Issue #2? Bad form, Matt Gagnon, Michael Alan Nelson, and Brian Stelfreeze.

David Reid is a normal human who works for the Virgos, a family of vampire mobsters, taking care of the tasks that need to be done during the day. The Virgos are at war with the rival vampire clan called the Ramses. David is very good at his job, but the Ramses are uncommonly ruthless, and their day man, Jacob the Burner, is the best in the business. Can David save a member of the Virgo clan when the Burner sets his fiery sights on her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice story, great art, excellent drama and action. But the next issues better show up in a much more timely fashion, or people are gonna start to lose interest.

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