"Copperhead #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Jay Faerber
Illustrated by Scott Godlewski
2014, 32 Pages, $3.50
Comic released on September 10th, 2014
Starting a new job can be difficult. There's an orientation process and you have to meet (and hopefully get along with) all of your new colleagues. It's a little more complicated for Clara Bronson. She's the new sheriff of Copperhead, an ugly mining town on a backwater planet in the middle of nowhere. Her deputy doesn't like her. She doesn't get along with the townsfolk. The local mining tycoon is up to something. Oh, and a bunch of people died.
Writer and co-creator Jay Faeber sets the stage for an epic sci-fi western. Within just a few pages, he quickly defines the character of Clara Bronson as well as the town of Copperhead. There are a number of questions that pop up throughout the course of this first issue. Why she's here in the first place is at the top of the list. She seems very protective over her son Zeke, so it could be some aspect of her previous job that put him in danger. Perhaps it's why his father is no longer in the picture. Now I'm just speculating. Back to the book.
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Clara is a strong, independent female lead, which is something that is lacking in the comic industry, but fortunately seems to be a growing minority. Within the first few pages she shows just how much of a badass she is, turning down a man's chivalrous attempt to protect her from a lecher in favor of some peace and quiet for her boy. When the two men decide to fight instead, she takes matters into her own hands and makes quick work of them. She does all that before her train even arrives. Before she has a chance to unpack, she gets called on her first case, breaking up a domestic disturbance between a couple of brothers, then holds her own against the mother when she's attacked.
Although Copperhead is a small town, it's not without its politics. It's clear that local mining tycoon Benjamin Hickory has been using his wealth and power to influence the previous sheriff and who knows who else. The fact that he's using intimidating artificial humans (“arties”) as bodyguards aids to this theory. Clara's deputy Budroxifinicus (thankfully called “Boo”, much to his dismay) alludes to discrimination against his race, as they are never put into positions of power, despite being assimilated into society. As a result, you can imagine how their relationship begins.
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Artist Scott Godlewski really brings Copperhead to life. The opening pages are set on a cramped train before opening up to the vastness of the area. It reminds me a lot of Tatooine, which is definitely not a bad thing. There are several other Star Wars-esque buildings and vehicles, but they don't feel as futuristic. Although this is definitely sci-fi, the town feels a little rundown, like the kind you'd see in an old western movie.
Clara's design is perfect. She’s beautiful but tough. You can almost admire the bravery (or stupidity?) of the creep who tried to chat her up in the beginning of the issue, as Clara seems like the gorgeous woman that would never give you the time of day and would kick your ass if you tried to talk to her. She has a great serious face. When she has to take care of business, she gets a stern expression, filled with determination.
Copperhead has all the makings of a great sci-fi western saga. This may be a small town, but there's death and corruption and laser blasters. Clara Bronson aims to clean this up. The artwork is solid and the story is top notch with plenty of mystery involved to keep me coming back for more and more.