Posted - July 12, 2013 | Updated : August 12, 2015
Bulletproof Coffin is a story about a fanboy. A reader of comics, a collector of toys and memorabilia, an admirer of the different worlds and dimensions that fiction creates, an escapist who is disgruntled with how things are and fascinated with times and eras that only exist in the mind. If you have been collecting comics for some time now Bulletproof Coffin is about you, and you are bound to enjoy every minute of it.
Meet Steve Newman.
Steve is a Voids Contractor. Isn't that great? Isn't it great that we have no idea what the job means and that the job description doesn't really exist? Steve points out that a Voids Contractor is someone who cleans up the stuff of anybody who dies who has no one in their lives to inherit from them. The panel above shows Steve on the right and his partner Joey. So they enter this guys house to clean it up and they find this room.
Lots of comics piled all over the floor! Just look at that. If I were Steve I would be automatically be reviewing my list of rare golden-age books at this point. And sure enough Steve spots something.
In the world of Bulletproof Coffin the 'Unforgiving Eye' is a Golden Age title from a defunct publisher. But there's more to this comic than meets the 'eye'(get it?), but more on that later. Meanwhile Steve finds a whole bunch of Golden Age comics.
The best thing about this, is Steve can go and just keep this stuff because everything's going to end up in a landfill anyway. Just think about it. You stumble into a whole stack of Golden Age comics that you can have for free. Its fanboy heaven.
Okay, enough with the fanboy stuff for now, let's take a look at Steve the family man - he has a wife and two kids and here we see him arriving home after a day at work.
I think his wife is attractive, don't you? His kids, though, look like kobolds.
I like Steve but we soon learn that his family isn't very impressed with him. They ignore him for the most part; like he doesn't exist. Steve thinks there's something wrong with his family. He talks like a victim. I don't buy it, as much as I like Steve I think he's too much of a fanboy and too little of the family man. Oh well, water under the bridge, let's move on to see Steve at his mancave.
Yup. He hits the nail on the head when he refers to this as his 'Sanctum Sanctorum' - sacred sanctuary. I just love that name; I've loved it ever since I first heard the term used by Stan Lee in Strange Tales.
Now here's a nice quirk in Bulletproof Coffin, scattered all throughout the story are comics within a comic. More appropriately, Golden Age comics within a comic. And here's the first one.
The Unforgiving Eye.
It is the story of Ryan Stark who was bullied at school and at home when he was a boy as this panel so eloquently attests.
In retaliation Ryan Stark killed the bully.
And all the teachers at the school to boot.
Then exposed his Father as a closet transvestite (In the interest of all of you who are eating while reading this we'll give that panel a pass).
Then Ryan Stark murders a girl for refusing his advances.
The girl incident is a total crime but I tend to agree with the bully incident (although it should not have been as extreme as killing people. Over the years, I've become a firm believer in vengeance - if you can get back at a bully without the chance of reprisals I have three words for you : go for it).
Anyway the Unforgiving Eye judges Stark as being spineless and promptly removes his spine.
For an absolutely ghoulish ending, here's the Unforgiving Eye holding the spine.
Whoa! This is so gross its good.
Aside from the comics, Steve also got an old coin-operated TV from the house he emptied. When he played the tv Steve saw the owner being killed by some men in black and he was also given information on something hidden under the floorboards.
Steve returns to the house and uncovers the goods.
It's the costume and weapons of a Golden Age hero called the Coffin Fly.
Fanboy that he is, Steve goes back to his attic hideaway and tries out the outfit and gear.
He's actually disappointed that the gun doesn't really work.
Steve's car is a Chrysler Prowler.
Take a look again at the small panel insert in the upper left.
I reiterate: Steve's wife is pretty hot.
That very night Steve has sex with his fetching wife but he is not appreciative of it.
I am so baffled by these panels.
The next comic featured is 'The Shield of Justice'
Strangely enough, the Shield of Justice doesn't have a shield - he has a baseball bat.
It is the story of Jimmy, who fell in love with Mona.
And of Mona, who got raped.
And of Jimmy, who, finding this out, killed Mona.
The Shield of Justice has a strange hypnotic effect on Jimmy, who, in the interest of Justice, commits suicide for a shock panel ending.
Another satisfying Golden Age tale ladies and gentlemen. Not!
Back in the 'real world' Steve finishes the comic, looks up, and finds himself surrounded by Golden Age characters.
They convince him that he is the Coffin Fly and so must put on the costume and go out through this hatch which has mysteriously appeared in the ceiling.
So what does Steve do?
He goes for it. It's a kind of litmus test on whether your really a fanboy (or fangirl); I mean, if it was me, I would go for it too. And so Steve goes through the hatch and, at last, we are witness to the Bulletproof Coffin
This is the best panel in the entire series, except perhaps for the Ramona panels (you'll know what I'm talking about later). There are many questions about the Bulletproof Coffin like how does it not run out of gas when going around in a blighted apocalyptic landscape but its most curious features are those chain hooks its dragging around. The function of these items is to purportedly unearth 'treasures' from Earth's past. This comic is a collector's fantasy gone wild.
Here's another comic within a comic: Ramona, Queen of the Stone Age.
It tells the story of Sharon Sharone, a scientist whose research throws her back in time to become Ramona, Queen of the Stone Age.
Through a series of events Ramona escapes the past and finds herself in the future with Steve, the Coffin Fly
They hit if off very well, extremely well. Soon they are in a fight against zombies and the Coffin Fly gets conked in the head
Steve wakes up to see his wife putting on her undies.
Once again I have to ask, what is wrong with Steve that he isn't going for his sexy wife? I mean, aside from Ramona, of course.
Here's Steve at the breakfast table with his freaky kids.
The next comic within a comic is Coffin Fly.
Nice cover. Looks a bit like a Kirby homage.
Here's the Coffin Fly shown with his two weapons : the Mark 4 Death Dealer and the 'Babe Tooth' baseball bat'.
Steve and Ramona do manage to fight off the zombies, but, as you can see, Ramona has a gash on her leg.
It's a zombie bite. There is no escaping that she will slowly turn into a zombie.
Steve returns back to his world to find his entire family in league with the Shadow Men.
The Golden Age characters convince steve that the solution to all this lies in finding the long lost writer-artist team of Kane and Hine, the creators of all these Golden Age comics.
Incidentally, Davide Hine and Shaky Kane are also the real life writer-artist team of Bulletproof Coffin. They may or may not be a homage to the legendary writer-artist team of Simon and Kirby.
While all these is going on, the Shadow Men are coming in for the kill. The Shield of Justice runs interference.
He buys some time, but is ultimately killed by the villains.
The next comic within a comic is Red Wraith
I find Red Wraith the most interesting of these Golden Age characters. He is an archaeologist named Edgar Landru who invades the tomb of the Pharaoh Neferkaka
And is cursed to become the immortal Red Wraith - the Ghost Who Shambles (read : The Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks).
The neat thing about the Red Wraith is that if someone is 'pure of heart', or something like that, and they call out 'Red Wraith' three times, the Ghost Who Shambles will appear to help them. That's such a great concept.
The comic begins right after Ramona gets bitten by that zombie. She escapes to the future. Here she is with that leg bite very visible.
In the future she winds up in a museum, reverts to her alter ego of Sharon Sharone and loses what little clothing she had in the first place.
While in the shower, she becomes aware of the first signs that she is becoming a zombie.
The zombies follow Ramona to the future and she summons the Red Wraith to her side. Very nice panel.
By the time the Red Wraith leaves Ramona her situation is getting progresively worst.
Steve finally tracks Hine and Kane in this area.
Here Steve meets some creators working under Kane and Hine in Wishbone Studios.
Look at the guy with the 'anonymity strip' across his eyes. This is pretty crazy comics. And look at the word balloons on the clothesline near the ceiling.
Steve meets David Hine and Shaky Kane at last. I wonder if this is how those two really look like? I wouldn't bet on it though, I'm almost sure that Bulletproof Coffin was created by younger creators
Hine and Kane go into a lengthy tirade about how Big2 Publishing (read: Marvel and DC) have effectively hounded the smaller shops into extinction. Towards the end of their whiny tirade both Hine and Kane reveal that they themselves have sold out. There characters are now effectively Big2 characters and have been reworked for modern audiences.
Doesn't the art style remind of you Rob Liefeld? Damn, this is hilarious!
With that, Steve is killed by the Shadow Men. That's right.
Before it ends Bulletproof Coffin makes one last point, and that is that there is really no death in comics. Those tragic lovers Ramona and Steve live again and find each other, in the future, as zombies.