After one heck of a cliffhanger in the last issue, Copperhead returns for its third issue. Is it good?
Copperhead #3 (Image Comics)
The story opens with a tense standoff between Bronson and the “artie” who saved her son from the Starship Trooper bugs. The scene not only gives us dose of wonderfully dramatic tension, but it also frames a nice bit of exposition about how the arties fit into the Copperhead universe.
Later, the ice between Bronson and Boo continues to melt as they investigate the horrific murder from the first issue. It’s clear that despite their differences, these two make a pretty good team. Yeah, yeah… I know… it sounds like I’m reading promo copy for a new buddy cop show on TBS. But the dynamic between the two that writer Jay Faerber is creating feels so organic and real that you almost forget one of them isn’t human.
The rest of the issue makes use of said teamwork along with artist Scott Godlewski’s ability to tell a story without much (or sometimes any) dialogue as Bronson enacts a plan to gather badly needed information for their investigation.
Just like in the last issue, the story ends on a heart attack of a cliffhanger. This time, however, it’s two fold, revealing the potential for a catastrophic encounter along with a new wrinkle to the murder mystery that hints at something far more sinister in the works.
Is It Good?
Before I began lavishing praise, a quick observation: I read this one digitally, which normally isn’t a problem for me (even with the cracks currently gracing the screen of my iPad). Unfortunately, much of this issue utilized double page spreads, even with scenes made up of multiple panels.
This occasionally hampered the reading experience. Luckily, I love this series so much that I also pick up a physical copy of each issue, too, something I’ve never done before with comics that I ready digitally. That’s just how good this book is.
The world building gets better every issue, making the Copperhead universe stand out from the typical ‘remote backwoods town with something to hide’ backdrop while also utilizing the best parts of the common trope to make it work.
The characters are even better. Clara Bronson isn’t just a male protagonist with boobs; she has the ‘Ripley-factor’ going on in full effect. The scenes with her son show a strong maternal/protective side, her interactions with Boo reveal a very relatable (and often funny) personality, and her skills as a top notch law enforcement officer/detective demonstrate why she’s total badass.
But the best part of this book is the storytelling. Each issue digs question mark hooks into the reader’s brain, making you constantly want to know what happens next while never allowing the plot’s direction or flow to get derailed. It’s enjoyable, intriguing, and a hell of a lot of fun.
If I had to pick one thing to quibble over, it’s that the scenes without dialogue were used a little too much. Bronson’s interactions with the other characters (especially with Boo) are some of the best parts of the book.
But other than that, there’s hardly anything to dislike about this issue or the previous ones, either. The series is turning into a master class on world building, character development, and most importantly, storytelling. If you aren’t picking Copperhead up already, go add it to your pull list today. It’s so good, you might just find yourself buying it twice.