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Published on September 11th, 2014 | by JCDoyle

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Copperhead #1 – Comic Review

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The concept of Sci-Fi westerns is not a new one and has formed the backbone for some of the best television series in the last few decades. And now Jay Faerber is unashamedly basing his new comic on that very concept. Copperhead is a triumphant first issue and a very promising start to a new series.

The protagonist, Clara Bronson and her son Zeke are forced to move to a new town on the edge of nowhere so that she can take up her new position as Sheriff. On the journey a letch and a ‘macho hero’ fight over her but she deals with them both and flings them from the train when it finally comes to a stop. This first scene illustrates Clara’s credentials from the very beginning: she’s a no nonsense, strong willed, caring single mother. She is aware of how difficult the move is for Zeke and understands his discomfort but at the same time her new position is a chance for her to get back on to her feet (what happen before the opening of the story has not yet been revealed, but is hinted at so is a story line that may be investigated further down the road).

The town of Copperhead itself is a corrupt, backwater town which appears to be a ‘hive of scum and villainy’ just as Mos Eisley was described in Star Wars. The first thing that Sheriff Bronson has to deal with is a domestic violence case involving a family that want nothing to do with the interference of the law. The deputy, Boo, doesn’t prove to be much help as he expresses jealousy at Bronson’s appointment over himself. And when they return to the Sheriff’s office they meet Benjamin Hickory, Mill owner, possible gang boss and owner of the blue faced Artificial Humans that appear to make Bronson nervous.

Copperhead insert

All this and a bloody crime scene followed by an ill advised outing for Zeke makes this first issue full to the brim with idea’s and story. Despite the fact that there is a lot going on, the central character of Bronson is the focus and she is clearly defined: you know what to expect from her by the end of this issue and she’s a very strong, determined, fair character. The visuals are wonderful with some very bleak but alluring landscapes and a range of alien species littering the fore and back grounds. I especially like the design work for the Sheriff and her son as they are pretty striking and stand out in the harsh, dusty western setting.

There are elements that people may recognise when reading this, it reminded me of Firefly’s setting with Defiance’s narrative, but it is not a negative. It’s interesting to see how Faerber manipulates your expectations of what should happen by leading you in a certain direction then twisting slightly at the end. The confrontation with Hickory is a scene straight for any number of westerns where the ‘company’ runs the town but the addition of the Artificial Humans gives the scene a new dimension.

Copperhead number one is an atmospheric read and fans of Sci-Fi and westerns will find something to latch onto. Also the dynamic between mother and son acts as a hook to draw you in and forces you to become attached to the characters, already you worry for Zeke’s safety and hope that Clara will return in time to help him.

Copperhead01_Cover

Title: Copperhead

Publisher: Image Comics

Writer: Jay Faerber

Artist: Scott Godlewski

JCDoyle

JCDoyle

Lover of comics and Art and Sci-Fi in multiple media. Currently teaching my kids the ways of the Geek (while protecting my first editions)
JCDoyle

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