By: Caitlin Kittredge (story), Inaki Miranda (art), Eve de la Cruz (colors)

The Story: The wicked witch strikes against the wicked stepfather.

The Review: I started reading Hinterkind and Coffin Hill at around the same time, and it’s been interesting seeing them develop on parallel lines.  With Hinterkind having recently landed on my Drop List, the big question was whether Coffin Hill would suffer the same fate.  Both share the same defect of being too comfortable in their genre conventions and both have problems settling on a consistent tone.  Given these similarities, Coffin Hill should also be Dropped.

Yet somehow, I still feel Coffin Hill deserves a little more leeway than Hinterkind did.  Kittredge definitely made things easier on herself by limiting the size of her cast and further focusing on a select few.  Even if you don’t end up liking Eve, Nate, or Mel very much, at least you have a strong sense of who they are, where they’re coming from, and what their relationships to each other are.  They’re interesting in ways that the characters of Hinterkind only aspire to be.

What also makes Coffin Hill more digestible than Hinterkind is you can easily understand what the story’s actually about.  On the surface, it’s about Eve managing her witchcraft legacy, but at its heart, the series is really about Eve at a crossroads of her life and trying to figure out which direction to take.  In this issue, Eve’s still figuring it out, although she’s getting a little closer.  At least she’s defined two potential roles for herself.  “Some witches…[w]atch over the world’s vulnerable creatures.  Protect people,” she explains.  “The Coffins were always in it for themselves.  Strictly dark side[.]”

While Eve clearly wants to avoid falling into family vices, she sounds ambivalent about designating herself as a good witch.  For now, however, she proves to be more hero than antihero.  Even the creature possessing Mel says that Eve is no murderer, and Eve’s determination to save Dani’s younger sister despite their mother’s antipathy towards her is proof that Eve at least wants to make up for past evils.

But even if Eve succeeds, it’s unclear whether she can simply continue playing the spellcasting superhero afterward.  Early on, she suggests that dark magic is more powerful, or at least more dangerous, than the kind used by purely protective witches, and the forces aligned against her will require some power, it seems.  Dani’s stepfather goes so far as to say, “Wicked witch of Coffin Hill, you’re not.  But you will be again.”

Perhaps Eve can hold on to her values through her relationship with Nate, but I’d hate to think that the series will be as corny as that.  Besides, and perhaps now I’m only speaking for myself, it’s hard to get onboard with their romance, given how soapy and drama-drenched it is.  What we’ve seen of their interactions, especially in flashbacks to the past, has resembled hormonal chaos rather than true love.

Although Miranda continues to be a solid force for the series, I just noticed—which should tell you something about how ignorant I can be on these matters—that the characters all tend to wear the same outfits all the time, like cartoon characters.  I find this unusual, especially when Miranda is usually the type to put more thought and detail into the design of things.  But this is a relatively minor flaw in a visually striking issue.

Conclusion: Against all odds, the title has convinced me to give it until the end of its first arc to prove itself.  I’m not confident it’ll be worth it, but at least I’m hopeful.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – I don’t know why, but I kind of hope Wilcox will be a bigger player in future issues.  Maybe because she’s the most normal person in the entire cast.

– I kind of love that Patrick is sinking his money into a profitable venture (drugs) to sink his money into a worthless venture (speed racing).