Comic Review – Copperhead #11 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week’s review is a little late. Give me a break, it was my birthday yesterday! I was excited to see the return of Copperhead this week with issue #11, the first issue since late 2015. Since I reviewed the first issue back in 2014 it has been a favourite of mine, so I’m glad to see it back. Copperhead was co-created by Jay Faeber and Scott Godlewski, with Faeber on writing duties but Godlewski now replaced by on interior art by Drew Moss (although he is still involved and drew the cover). As with the issues before the break, Ron Riley provides the colour art and Thomas Mauer returns for lettering.

Cover by Scott Godlewski and Ron Riley

For those unfamiliar with it, Copperhead is a sci-fi western set in the town of Copperhead on the planet of Jasper. Clara Bronson is the relatively new Sheriff in town, having moved there recently to start fresh with her young son Zeke. She is joined by Deputy Budroxifinicus (or ‘Boo’), a huge creature who bears a serious grudge against Clara and her position, and while a capable deputy he certainly has plans of his own to usurp Clara’s command. As does everyone else in town it seems. In this issue, Clara and Boo uncover a terrible crime, while someone from Clara’s past arrives with a warning. Whatever, or whomever Clara and Zeke were trying to get away from when they came to Copperhead, they didn’t go far enough.

Faeber’s writing in Copperhead has not missed a step in the break, with characters that continue to be intriguing and well developed. Clara is an especially interesting, no-nonsense woman who is utterly unwilling to put up with anyone else’s crap. One of the minor complaints I had with the first issue was that the story moved a little slowly, but while the pace of the overarching plot has continued to be a slow burn I’ve definitely changed my position on that aspect, in fact I think it is one of the series’ strengths. Issue #11 isn’t the most welcoming to new readers, but the first 10 issues have all been collected in two trade paperbacks already for readers to catch up on.

The art is a little different with Drew Moss on board, but style-wise it isn’t a big departure and everything looks just as good as before. The different alien races populating Copperhead all look weird and wonderful, and the facial work with the human characters, in particular Clara, is very strong (especially a few close-up shots). Riley’s colours are as gorgeous as they were before the break, evoking an almost washed out desert heat that suits the story perfectly.

If you haven’t read any Copperhead up until now I suggest you grab the first two trade paperbacks here and here, then pick up issue #11. Great sci-fi western action with well rounded characters and excellent art. I can’t really think of a better endorsement.

Score: 9 Fancy New Suits out of 10

Advanced Comic Review – Secret Identities #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

Over the holiday break I was very fortunate to be sent an advanced copy of Secret Identities #1 from Image Comics.  Co-written by Brian Joines and Jay Faerber, with art from Ilias Kryiazis and Charlie Kirchoff, according to Image’s solicits:

In SECRET IDENTITIES #1, the supergroup known as The Front Line has just invited the new hero Crosswind to join them. But what they don’t know is that Crosswind is a mole, sent to learn all their secrets. And the Front Line has LOTS of secrets…

In this opening issue, the mystery isn’t that a mole is joining The Front Line or who it is. It’s clear from the start. The mystery and intrigue comes from why Crosswind is infiltrating the superhero team, who he is working with and what sort of secrets he has been sent to learn. We get a glimpse of some of these secrets and the backgrounds of Luminary, Helot, Punchline, Gaijin,  Recluse, Vesuvius and Rundown as they accept in their new member. The team themselves are all varied and potentially broken in their own right, with a decent look at each of them that is sure to be fleshed out further in future issues. The pacing, plot and characterisation are all off to a really strong start, and with an interesting take on the superhero genre I can’t wait to see what Joines and Faerber have in store for us.

Secret Identities

The art from Kryiazis and Kirchoff shines here too, and the opening scene with The Front Line taking on an inter-dimensional horde of creatures explodes off the page, allowing the unique character designs and the powers of the heroes to distinguish from each other. The clear facial detail and expression is accentuated by the colour work, and the tonal shifts between scenes teasing at some of the dark secrets of the group does a great job of highlighting how sinister some of them are.

This is a strong first issue for a really interesting new superhero story, and with the benefit of being a creator-owned story it means the stakes can be much higher (for example, the death of a character can actually have meaning as we can’t guarantee they’ll be back from the dead in a year).

Secret Identities #1 hits stores on February 18th so definitely pick it up. You can also help out the creators by either pre-ordering with Diamond Code DEC140617 or adding it to your pull list at your local comic book shop!

9 Dark Secrets out of 10

Comic Review – Copperhead #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.

This week, along with the couple of other creator-owned titles and a few of the Futures End issues (of drastically varying quality) from DC’s September event, I picked up Copperhead #1 from Image Comics, written by Jay Faerber, with art by Scott Godlewski, colours from Ron Riley and letters by Thomas Mauer.

Copperhead is a sci-fi western (I love a sci-fi western) set in the titular town on the planet of Jasper. Our main character, Clara Bronson, is moving to Copperhead to start a new life with her young son Zeke. Taking up the recently vacated Sheriff’s position (or ‘Sherif’), Clara and Zeke are greeted by her surly Deputy Budroxifinicus (or ‘Boo’), one of many of the various species living in Copperhead. They soon head out to a domestic disturbance, where Deputy Boo doesn’t really help, and return to the station to find the local mine owner and his artificial human bodyguards, seemingly running some form of racket (and whose dialogue, I’m pretty sure, is impossible to read in anything but a sleazy Southern accent). Before Clara and Zeke can settle in to their new home that evening, Boo calls reporting a murder that she has to head out to investigate. And Zeke suffers from Carl Grimes syndrome, because he doesn’t stay in the damn house when he is told to.

The story is interesting, if a little slow in building the groundwork for the world and the characters. The basic premise is good though, like a cop show but set in a desolate frontier town in the middle of nowhere. In a letter at the back, Faerber describes his original idea as ‘Deadwood in space’, which is pretty accurate. The dialogue is strong, and a few pieces are teased about Sheriff Bronson’s past and a presumably fairly large and possibly interplanetary war that ended at least relatively recently. The art was great, with the sand-blasted barren Copperhead looking bleak and bringing out the varying colours of the different species. The night-time scenes at the end of the issue were particularly vivid and gorgeous despite being a little gruesome. It actually reminded me of Fiona Staples’ art, with the alien creatures and locales blending perfectly with the humans mixing in with them.

This felt like it could have been set on a planet in the Firefly universe if there were a few alien species (and not just Dead Bessie), and for that reason alone I was bound to enjoy it. The story, while a slow burner, is intriguing and I liked all the characters a great deal. Check this out in your local comic shop, or digitally with your recently unveiled pointless watch phone or whatever.

Score: 8 Bullet Ridden Uniforms out of 10