After four fantastic issues, the first arc of Copperhead (and the first case for Sherriff Bronson and Boo) reaches a conclusion. Is it good?
Copperhead #5 (Image Comics)
Bronson and Ishmael’s standoff from the last issue quickly escalates to a violent conflict. Fortunately, Cletus wakes up from his coma with Boo and a cell phone there at the hospital to transmit his testimony. This leads to a few very cool things happening:
- A somewhat surprising yet satisfying revelation.
- A badass action scene.
- Some great interaction between Ishmael and Bronson.
…and Sherriff Bronson being thankful that she picked T-mobile over AT&T.
Once the dust settles, however, the story is still far from over. Boo goes into full-on Training Day mode in an effort to find the person responsible for Sewell’s family being massacred. He succeeds, but the justice system isn’t quite as lucky.
The ending of the issue/story arc is exquisitely grim and poignant. The case is solved but not resolved. A family is torn apart while new friendships and alliances are formed. And through it all, Sheriff Bronson finds a small victory amidst a sea of crushing defeat she and Boo had no chance of beating from the start.
As if all that weren’t good enough, the issue’s final page leaves us with a cliffhanger/revelation that has all sorts of terrifying possibilities for the future.
Is It Good?
I’m running out of ways to praise this book.
As a reviewer, this is the issue where I’m supposed to pontificate about how writer Jay Faeber still did a great job, but the conclusion didn’t live up to the opening issues’ potential. Instead, he wraps things up even stronger than they started.
The revelations, both with regards to the plot and the characters, are wonderfully dark. There’s a great deal of heartache and failure, but not because Bronson/Boo failed at their jobs. Instead, the system and society in which they work made it impossible for them to succeed.
But it’s not all storm clouds and frowny faces. Our main characters still get some small victories that add up to a big reason for them to keep fighting and trying to make a difference. Make no mistake, though; this ending is perfectly clear. It’s not muddy or ambiguous in a way that ignores the tone of the previous story elements before it. It’s also not wrapped up with a pretty little bow, either. Instead, a door is opened to a host of problems and possibilities for Copperhead’s top law enforcement officers. (And speaking of possibilities, that last page looks like some pretty bad ones will be visiting Sheriff Bronson soon).
When you combine all this wonderful storytelling inside Scott Godlewski’s fantastic pencils and Ron Riley’s gorgeously washed out colors, you’ve have a perfectly crafted piece of evidence for why I named Copperhead last year’s best new series.
Do you like sci-fi? Do you like westerns? Do you like well-crafted stories told through great dialogue and beautiful artwork? If so, Copperhead needs to be on your pull list.