Imagine Justified set in a Star Wars-esque galaxy: that’s Copperhead in a nutshell. But if derivative comparisons aren’t your thing, let me save you some time: Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski’s new science fiction series is brilliant. It’s brimming with imagination, has a colourful cast of characters, features plenty of action, but essentially, packs plenty of heart. At a time when Image Comics is constantly redefining comics’ Gold-Standard, Copperhead is up there with the very best the medium has to offer.
Single mother Clara Bronson is the new sheriff of a rundown mining town – Copperhead – on the edge of a backwater planet. Before she’s had a chance to settle in and placate her resentful deputy, she’s thrown into her first case: the massacre of an entire family, and the theft of their most prized possession. And as an increasing number of suspects enter the fray, her son, Zeke, finds himself in the crosshairs of a potential killer…
The imagery in Copperhead is stunning. Scott Godlewski and Ron Riley team up to perfectly render the world’s desolate landscape, and clearly had fun creating the assortment of alien creatures and technology displayed on these pages. They employ fantastic use of negative space, and the action is dynamically and brutally captured. Faerber has maintained his uncanny knack of locating talented artists just waiting for the right ‘breakout’ project. Copperhead is certainly Godlewski’s.
Copperhead: Volume 1 hints at a wider universe and its history without delving into too many specifics. This is serial fiction, after all; information will be teased out gradually as Copperhead continues. Like its characters, there’s depth to this world; we don’t know the extent of it, but it feels like a living, breathing galaxy, with a backstory we’re not yet privy to. And speaking of backstory, Clara’s is shrouded in mystery, too; what events from her past have landed her this deadbeat assignment? Where’s her ex-husband? And why is she so protective of Zeke, to the extent he’s not allowed outside their home without her? These are all mysteries waiting to be revealed.
And when they are revealed, I’ll be there, guaranteed. Copperhead: Volume 1 has hooked me in for the long haul.