This week sees the beginning of a new series from Writer Jay Faerber and artist Scott Godlewski. Copperhead takes us into the oft traveled sci-fi setting of a space western. Is it good?
Copperhead #1 (Image Comics)
The story is told from the perspective of Sheriff Bronson, a mother who’s headed with her son to a new position in a backwards town. Right off the bat, she has to deal with an indignant/obtuse deputy, a bizarre domestic dispute, a too-powerful-for-his-own-good businessman, and the standard hardships a single parent involved in law enforcement will face.
It’s also clear that Bronson is running from something in her past, but that all gets put on the backburner when a horrific murder scene puts her and her deputy, Budroxifinicus (‘Boo’ for short’) on a case with much larger implications about the town where she and her son have decided to settle down.
Meanwhile, the obedient boy predictably misbehaves, deciding to venture out where he’s not supposed to and help a new friend find her dog. As you probably guessed, this leads to another frightening discovery.
Is It Good?
If that summary sounded like a bunch of space western clichés strung together, then you understand why I initially did not want to read/review this book.
The creative team looked good, but the book looked to be covering ground that I wasn’t terribly interested in revisiting with a new comic series.
And guess what… pretty much the entire story and world building process in this first issue consists of standard, paint-by-numbers space western story beats.
– Law enforcement in an unfamiliar, wild town.
– Partners who don’t like each other, but are forced to work together on a strange case.
– A war that forever changed the landscape of the universe in which the world exists.
– A bizarre event that shifts the protagonist’s focus from his/her mysterious past to protecting the present.
I originally declined the offer to look at this one from our review coordinator, David Brooke. But just like when he’s had too many drinks and starts to get a little handsy, David would not give up on getting me to take a look… and I am very glad that I did.
Remember that “paint-by-numbers” comment I made earlier? Well this is one of the very rare instances where it’s not meant to be a negative remark. Faerber’s story and Godlewski’s art combine for a story that hits all the space western beats so well, it feels like putting on your favorite pair of jeans when they’re fresh out of the dryer.
The dialogue is top notch. The pencils and coloring are absolutely gorgeous. The murder mystery and Bronson’s past has me totally hooked. The characters are great… and the world/universe/town is so interesting that it’s a character in and of itself.
Now don’t get me wrong; it’s going to take a lot more than a great set up to keep this thing going. Faerber’s eventually going to have to give us something new for Copperhead to really take off. But for now, this by the numbers painting has the potential to become a masterpiece.
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