Self-mutilation is the theme, here, until it becomes self-destruction.
The strippers in Paulie’s joint literally rip the skin from underlying tissue on a nightly basis while Paulie scribbles his poetry in an empty bathtub, an Oscar Wilde on bath salts.
A mysterious germophobe named Ben dismembers himself systematically in his high-rise apartment, on a self-proclaimed mission to reduce his surface area. The less of him there is, the less there is to contract the world’s filth.
And, of course, Izzy, on a literal quest to figuratively remove all traces of her existence from the planet.
Just like the skin, layers of the past are revealed here. Not much, and maybe not enough to lend sufficient gravity to the proceedings, but the story does dip its toe into Izzy’s troubled past.
Meanwhile, Izzy and the Vulture, hot off a delightfully violent first few pages, spend the rest of the issue…contemplating things, bouncing poetic dialogue off one another in a way that is at once confounding and…well, just pretty to read. Like Schopenhauer’s aphorisms. Or the Tao Te Ching.
What is the Vulture? A vengeful spirit? A guide? A portent? What is the Earth-Eater? Can a life truly be dismantled? What is a person, under skin and tissue and memory?
The art is still beautiful and frantic, but the story begins to drag, even as the characters leap and bound through events that I somehow feel left out of. And that’s the most frustrating thing in Issue #3. I keep feeling as though the comic wants me to be shocked or worried or angry at characters and their decisions, when I don’t feel connected to them. Simply put, I don’t know who they are. I don’t know if I should be shocked or worried or angry at all. And as for what’s at stake—Izzy’s life—it’s the very thing she’s actively trying to destroy.
All that being said, there is enough to keep me interested—for now. And the aphorisms are refreshingly bleak, the philosophy stark and brutal. As a comic, it’s certainly trying to challenge you. So, if you never quite outgrew My Chemical Romance and you have even a passing interest in pessimist/anti-natalist literature (both of those things apply to me, btw), go ahead and pick up a copy of COFFIN BOUND #3.
Visit your local comic book store or head to the Image Comics webstore to grab your copy of Coffin Bound #3