"Copperhead Vol. 1: A New Sheriff in Town" Trade Paperback Review
Written by Steven Wood
Published by Image Comics
Originally published as Copperhead #1 - #5
Written by Jay Faerber
Illustrated by Scott Godlewski
2015, 132 pages
Trade Paperback released on March 11th, 2015
Copperhead Vol. 1: A New Sheriff in Town is set in the 24th century on the planet Jasper, where Clara Bronson is the newly appointed sheriff of the mining town Copperhead. She will soon discover the town’s many secrets as she gets acquainted with her new position.
When first meeting Sheriff Bronson and her young son Zeke, it is apparent that she is tough yet sensitive. She is likable within the first few panels, once we get past opening sequence. We see her sense of humor and “doesn’t take shit from anyone” mentality. As we aren’t given any real backstory on Bronson at this time, she is as interesting and developed of a character as she needs to be. It’s nice to not have the first handful of pages delve into backstory.
Bronson and Zeke must have been on their own for some time, as he is all too familiar with the day-to-day aspect of his mother’s work. He is prepared to stay alone at home for hours on end and doesn’t seem to have an issue with any of it. Zeke has to be a strong kid if he can withstand the pressure of taking care of himself on the first day both he and his mother arrive into a new town.
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Deputy Budroxifinicus, better known as Boo, is Bronson’s right-hand man, or should I say large bear-looking creature and second in command. There is an obvious tension, or maybe resentment from him towards Bronson; towards the entire human race as a matter of fact. His statement regarding how his race isn’t deemed fit for any “real position of power” is all too telling. He feels he should have been appointed sheriff, as he points out he’s been living there for some time. His personality isn’t that of a friendly or even very personable being, but he doesn’t seem mean or rude to either Bronson or Zeke.
I’m glad not much time is wasted before getting right into the thick of things, and what better way to introduce the town’s new sheriff than to have her break up a fight between the local Sewell boys? We really learn of Bronson’s attitude here, and as she is portrayed as a “tough girl”, it’s nice to see that she can get her ass handed to her and take it like a man…or woman, whichever is appropriate. This group of miscreants is green in color and each has four arms. I wish I had the name of their species, but sadly I don’t, and that is one of the only real problems with the writing in this volume, along with neglecting to mention the species of Boo. The only non-human given a name would be the artificial humans, or Arties.
I may be nitpicking here, but it seems important to know the species of your supporting characters. With a world which looks to be on the scale of the Cantina scene in Star Wars: Episode IV, I’d appreciate some information on the vast amount of creatures we’re seeing. On the other hand, the Arties get a little bit of love in terms of backstory, as we learn they were created to help fight alongside humans during a war not yet detailed. After the war, which the humans and Arties were victorious, the Arties weren’t being used for their main purpose - battle. Instead, these poor humanoid creations have become assistants to humans; at least that’s what we know of so far. On Jasper, these beings seem to be a bit more tolerated than from wherever Bronson came from, as her dislike for them is very obvious. Speaking of the Arties, there are a few panels where the same Artie is a different color than the panel before. I don’t know if this was a mistake, but I was confused on whether or not it was supposed to be the same character.
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Not everything in Copperhead is all murderous and violent; there is a bit of humor, which is a nice touch in a story like this. While the humor isn’t exactly “laugh out loud”, the subtleness of it is appreciated. As the story progresses, the relationships between the main characters begin to grow stronger and personality traits are more prevalent. I enjoy Boo, I read him in a monotone voice as his facial expression almost never changes…which I hope was intentional.
The volume ended with an ambiguous single panel, so I’m very interested to see where the story goes from here. I hope we can learn more of our inevitable heroine along the way.
The world established by both Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski is an interesting one. When first looking at the artwork, I immediately started thinking of the old Aeon Flux cartoon on MTV. Though not exactly the same, some of the visual styles were apparent and I appreciated the “rawness’ of it all. Copperhead itself is, well, mostly copper color tones and essentially all desert. Sorry to bring up Star Wars: Episode IV again, but the locale is very reminiscent of the planet Tatooine. The vehicles that we’ve seen are hovercrafts and a train with magnetic suspension, so the tech in Copperhead is obviously advanced, but nothing too crazy as of yet.
Copperhead is a town that is going to be full of awesome stories, colorful characters and devastating violence. As Volume 1 covers the first five issues, we already have plenty to chew on and obviously a lot more still to come.