Coffman starters are basically an air motor of sorts. They use the blank cartridge to provide high pressure gas to run the starter for a few (very powerful) turns. Here is a video of an actual start with the system:
There were cylinder injection systems for starting engines. Both Disco and Prestolite made Acetylene injection systems back when cars had hand cranks for starting. Basically they metered a shot of Acetylene in to the right cylinder, and fired the spark plug. Kaboom - piston spins the whole engine over.
I can just imagine filling a china girl with acetylene & firing the plug - instant grenade.
A relative of the Coffman starter is still in use today - the Air Starter. Very powerful vane type air motors for cranking big diesel engines. Ingersoll Rand still makes them, here is a video of a truck starting with one: