By Jay Faerber, Scott Godlewski, Ron Riley, and Thomas Mauer
Deliver us from hiatus, oh beloved Copperhead; thou hast returned and the people rejoiced, for it was good. Like your favorite warm, futuristic police flak-jacket, the premier sci-fi western series envelops you in its unique world and reminds you why it always fit so perfectly. Fresh off the release of the first TPB that collects the inaugural arc introducing us all to new sheriff (and long-time badass) Clara Bronson, Deputy Boo and a plethora of captivating characters and settings, Faerber, Godlewski, Riley and Mauer mosey back into town as though they never left the place. With issue #6, they let us know there’s still a veritable gold mine of stories left to explore and dang it if it doesn’t feel great to have them, and all of Copperhead’s miscreants, back again.
Jay Faerber lays the groundwork for a number of intriguing storylines with this issue, but just because there’s a bevy of set-up, doesn’t mean this issue skimps on all the frenetic space police action or signature relatable personal conflicts; far from it. Let’s see, we’ve got: lingering tension between Deputy and Sheriff? Check. Mysterious absentee Mayor? Check. A child’s continued perilous rendezvous with outcast warrior artie? Check. Bar brawls? Check. Meddlesome, mischievous machinations of local industrialists? Check. At its heart though, Faerber has this issue still shine a bright light on the trials and tribulations of a single mother trying to adjust to new surroundings with the entire deck stacked against her. Even though that’s the way she’s used to it being, and hell, in some ways that’s the only way she’d have it, the very real hardships of being alone can still take their toll. Clara is the runaway star of this series with good reason: she’s about the realist protagonist you can find on comic shelves today, despite the outer-space cops and robbers routine. She’s hard as nails and adept at kicking ass, sure, but she’s familiarly flawed and thanks to Faerber’s biting dialogue, an endless well of dimension. This issue Faerber makes sure to let each of the facets of her personality shine, even her more vulnerable aspects and as a result it’s nigh impossible not to root for her. Especially when there looks to be plenty of trouble coming her way over the horizon.
Details and designs, that’s the name of the visual game when Scott Godlewski and Ron Riley ride on up and other such Western colloquialisms. Point being, Copperhead has been, and continues to be, a fully realized world; specifically, one that feels worn and lived in. This is all due to the meticulous nature of Godlewski’s keen eye for details throughout the rugged landscape and its inhabitants. Godlewski’s sharp line looks even sharper this issue, the strong and confident rigidity of the vehicles featured in the opening high-speed chase pop against the blurring speed-line filled backdrop of the serene and natural sedentary arches of the badlands. Beyond rock formations and inventive vehicular design, it’s the furniture found in Boo’s home, the faces and clothing of barely seen bar patrons, the debris and detritus of an active battlefield, the…look, you get the idea: Godlewski has created a living, breathing world that tickles begs for you to dive in and explore.Obviously, his rendering is as on-point as ever and his slight angular style wonderfully conveys a wide range of expressive emotions, not the least of which in this issue includes suspicion, pining, disappointment and as ever, a heavy dose of “are you f*cking kidding me?” He is a natural storyteller and one that hammers home all of the most gut-wrenching moments with enthusiasm.
Dusty, textured sands drenched in warms give way to cold, sterile offices and alien flamingo landscapes only to veer sharply into the hypnotic day-glo of Copperhead’s local night-life. Ron Riley seamlessly blends the expected while never allowing you to forget that we’re a long, long way from home with his vast palette and clever lighting. When something needs to pop, Riley relishes in making in snap and crackle first. The varied skin-tones of the extraterrestrial populous run the chromatic gamut, but the sponged background texturing and the playful lighting keep it grounded. Combined with Godlewski’s great designs and figure work, the final art package is a thing to behold.
What a sight for sore eyes it is to see the harsh small-town of Copperhead again. Clearly paving the way for plenty of drama, this issue delivers everything we’ve come to expect from this team and everything that makes visiting Copperhead every month a romp and a half. There’s so much more left to explore and even if this issue stops to take its breath while introducing some new characters and directions, it still feels like putting back on the best damn fitting boots you’ve ever owned. Three dimensional characterization, imaginative and vast visuals, constant subversion of genre-tropes, and a wealth of trails to go down, Copperhead #6 is more than worth buying a ticket to visit.