I’m not sure what to expect with this book, knowing so very little about it; I recognize the writer, Jay Faerber, who wrote The Titans back in the day (and had to deal with a terrible editor that kept butting into his work), but not the artist. So with that being said, let’s take a look at the first volume here and see what lies in store for us. Is it good?
Copperhead Vol. 1: A New Sheriff in Town (Image Comics)
On some distant, desert like planet, two people are heading for a mining town by the name of Copperhead. There’s Clara Bronson, the brand new sheriff for the town and single mom, and Zeke Bronson, her young son that she’s very protective of. In Copperhead, she’ll meet some interesting and familiar character types, like her Deputy Sheriff who is nicknamed Boo and is resentful towards her and an alien hillbilly family with internal problems. Also, for her first day on the job, she’ll deal with a rather big case.
The thing about Copperhead Vol. 1 to me is that it is a good, not great start to the series. Everything is perfectly fine about the series and is executed well, but there’s nothing here that’ll really shock or blow you away (outside of the reveal of the murder mystery). It’s a very safe and at times, dull story, but also an enjoyable ride from start to end that provides a decent foundation for the series to build upon. For fans of sci-fi and western tales, this will probably work for you.
The story here is simple and easy to follow, with a couple of twists and a lot of setup to start bringing this world and characters to life. The first issue establishes all of the main and side characters, giving you a decent idea of what to expect, before dropping you into the main story/mystery that will be going on throughout the volume. The mystery itself is decent, with a few surprises here and it all does come together well enough in the end so that it makes sense (at least, according to the characters). There’s also some world building happening in the background, but it’s half and half. It does give you hints and clues about the past of this universe and its characters and what you can expect in it, but it never feels like you get enough to fully grasp certain things. The whole situation with the Natives, who and what they are and such, feels hazy and leaves you just having to roll with whatever people have to say. There is also the entire town of Copperhead and it just feels like a generic Western town, with nothing really all that unique about it other than its sci-fi coat of paint.
The characters are also pretty solid. Clara Bronson is your typical and sort of generic tough heroine, showing that she has the strength and tenacity to be the sheriff in this town, while also showing some human sides to her. She also has a bit of racist side to with how she views artificial humans, which slightly changes at the end. Deputy Budroxifinicus (aka Boo) is a character that’s both resentful and frustrated with his position, but still is a capable and good law enforcement officer. He feels frustration for the fact that he has been in his position the longest time (since a war apparently), but despite his experience, the sheriff job goes to a human and also a newcomer. You see this annoyance within him at points, but over time it seems to go away or become not as prevalent. I’m not sure it has to do with him learning to respect Clara, but more like a subplot that’s not as important and isn’t getting that much focus for the time being.
As for the others, there’s Missus Sewell, but there’s not much to say about her other than she’s a bit unhelpful regarding the case at points and that in the end, she’s going to be Zeke’s new babysitter. Ishmael, an artificial human that Zeke meets, gives the vibe of a soldier returned home from a war with nowhere to go. Though in his case, that’s a bit more literal since he was created to fight and kill and not really expected to have a life after the war. He has the most potential to develop into a deep and fascinating character, but there’s not much to him at this point outside of the character model of being a badass. There’s Benjamin Hickory, your archetypical sleazy business owner who has a lot of power. Finally, there’s Zeke and he’s alright. Sort of the typical younger child character you see in these types of stories, who doesn’t really grow or evolve in this volume outside of disobeying his mom’s orders and helping another kid in trouble. All of these characters are fine right now, but I hope to see more development and growth to them beyond this first outing.
Jay Faerber pens a good book here, albeit with some minor problems here and there. The pacing is decent most of the time, though it does have a few odd bits where the scene speeds up rather quickly. The storytelling isn’t bad, though there are some awkward transitions and cuts between scenes at times. Also, one story bit where we are supposed to suspect Ishmael of committing the murders due to him having this precious item on him that we briefly see could have been written a bit better. The dialogue and narration (when it appears) isn’t bad and there are a couple of good lines to be found at points, mostly from Boo. The ending is rather awkward and abrupt, since we abruptly cut from Missus Sewell and Carla shaking hands to this one page where we see a prison and this unnamed prisoner. Either way, despite some hiccups, the writing is solid overall.
The artwork is probably the strongest part of the comic. The characters are all well drawn and designed, capable of showing a lot of emotion and expressions. The layouts are well put together and easy to follow for the most part. The art does do a decent job at establishing and showing the world they live in, with the well-drawn shots of the town, landscape, and mining facility. The action is very brief, but looks good for the most part. The coloring is nice as well, though there was a small mishap where one character’s skin color changed twice in one scene (from dark tan, to white, and then finally to pinkish). Other than that, the artwork was good overall and there’s really no problem with it outside of that one bit.
What did you do to this poor man’s skin color between panels Zeke?!
Is It Good?
Copperhead Vol. 1 is a decent start to this new series. It feels very familiar and typical, though it has a good first story and set of characters. It built a good foundation here and it feels like a good comic to recommend to a more teenage crowd, but it needs some more work done before it can become something truly great and riveting. Let’s keep an eye on this one and see where it goes in the future.