Title: Copperhead #3
Writer: Jay Faerber
Artist: Scott Godlewski & Ron Riley
Publisher: Image Comics
Rating: 3.7 / 5
Copperhead is a good comic that is trying really hard to be a great comic, but unfortunately it’s more of the former than the latter.
There are a number of solid things to like about this book, so let me start with those. The setting is always an essential character in most great stories, but especially (space) westerns. The sparse, gritty and general wild west vibe is really starting to come into play in this dust-bowl mining town and is one of the most pleasing points about picking up this title every month. It seems like the population is small; not quite “everybody knows your name small,” but small enough that there are plenty of preexisting grudges that we the reader don’t know about. Secondly, the characters we do know are interesting and different enough that it’s not so much how their piece fits into the puzzle, but if they will fit at all.
The murder mystery is still very much in play and that is the driving force that keeps our attention. Ishmael, who was last seen saving the life of Sheriff Bronson’s son, has his story expanded and I would say it’s the highlight of the comic. Clara doesn’t trust him and she doesn’t mince words in making that point known, but Ishmael doesn’t seem to care. He’s clearly got his own agenda, which we find out in classic “last-panel” comic book fashion at the end.
On the downside, though, Copperhead #3 reminds me very much of certain modern television writing: it is just entertaining enough to keep you turning the page and before you are ready to put it down for good, they drop a big cliffhanging reveal on you with the final page. It can be a little frustrating and cliche, especially if you have to wait a month to repeat the process over again. But to contradict myself: at the end of the day if you’re still turning the pages it means it’s working, right?
All of this is not to say that the comic doesn’t have it’s major ups, which it definitely does. The art is still very good and the layouts even better. The way your eyes move from panel to panel is very smooth and some of the points-of-view we get treated to are definitely the highlights of the comic each month. The colours remain on par with this as well, making the town seem both pastel-infused and still grim.
I don’t want to sound harsh, because Copperhead really is a solid space-western. It might not be great, but it’s on its way there.
Review by Brent Gladney