Only two issues in, and it’s already becoming clear that Jay Faerber and Scott Godlweski have got major plans for the town of Copperhead. Similar to Cowboy Bebop, Copperhead somehow spins a western crime drama out of a sci-fi setting, and makes it seem as though it were the easiest thing in the world. Clara Bronson and her deputy Boo have built a quick rapport already, the latter begrudgingly following the orders of his new sheriff. I loved the moment when Boo, in the midst of taking notes about the Sewell family massacre, complains about his boss on record only to quickly then delete said recording once he realizes that Clara would hear it. In that single panel, we understand that while Boo dislikes taking orders from an outsider who took away his opportunity at being sheriff, he remains someone who respects the hierarchy in place. I’m hopeful that Faerber gets around to exploring Boo’s origins sooner rather than later as his references to recent wars point to some point of trauma that would probably account for his detached attitude.
The greatest strength of this comic is that it manages to constantly introduce new characters without disrupting its police procedural pacing (saw that 100 times fast). For instance, once Clara and Boo realize that one of the Sewell children have survived the attack, the comic transitions to a bar scene where we’re introduced to the town’s alcoholic doctor in a way that’s not only comical, but offers further glimpses into the range of species and personas residing in Copperhead. And done all in just two pages, work requiring type of rhythm that and concision that’s only possible when writer and artist are as in sync as these two (interestingly enough, Faerber mentions in the back-matter that he employed the Marvel Method for this issue).
Later in the issue we’re reintroduced to Mrs. Sewell, the victims’ surviving matriarch. As opposed to the hillbilly-esque figure from last issue, here we’re able to see her in a vulnerable position when she gets the news that her family has been killed. Godlweski channels all her sadness into her brow, making for a heartbreaking appearance before she loses it and briefly attacks the barrier separating her and Clara. Moments like those give me some hope that the book’s cliffhanger doesn’t end up devolving into some cowboys vs Native Americans crap. This comic has already proven that it’s beyond one-dimensional characters and stereotypical depictions. Now all it has to do is not screw it up. No pressure.
Writer: Jay Faerber Artist: Scott Godlewski Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 10/8/14 Format: Print/Digital