Review - Copperhead #1

"There's two Fs, you know. In "Sheriff." Your little sign. You spelled "Sheriff" wrong."

Every settlement needs a good sheriff. Someone to keep the peace and reinforce the law. And while every town can't be fortunate (?) enough as Mega-City One and have judges, some do get lucky enough to have an authority figure to do all of the above. In Copperhead #1 from Image Comics, that someone is a brand new arrival. The issue is written by Jay Faerber, illustrated by Scott Godlewski, colored by Ron Riley and lettered by Thomas Mauer.

Welcome to Copperhead, a grimy mining town on the edge of a backwater planet. Single mom Clara Bronson is the new sheriff, and on her first day she'll have to contend with a resentful deputy Budroxifincus, a shady mining tycoon, and a family of alien hillbillies. Not to mention, her first major case just so happens to be a pretty hefty massacre. All in a day's work for the new sheriff of Copperhead.

Just about anyone is a sucker for a good western tale and setting said tale in space is icing on the storytelling cake. In that regard, Faerber exceeds expectations with Copperhead #1, offering a world rich with vibrant personalities and teeming with a frontier mentality. Bronson is characterized as a no-nonsense authority figure who breezes from one incident to another, refusing to let seemingly large stumbling blocks slow her down in the process. Faerber's dialogue is very snappy as well, helping populate Copperhead with a wide variety of characters that generally fit into stereotypes, but still manage to feel original within the context of the book. Copperhead feels like a very established world, which helps to make Clara's travails feel that much more earned.

It's pretty apparent from the illustrations that Godlewski put a lot of attention to detail. Characters exhibit very clean lines that define them easily for the reader's eye. Copperhead is nothing if not diverse and Godlewski excels at making that diversity feel more homogenous; that is, he handles the varying character models with a relative ease that makes Copperhead feel like a unified (for the most part) settlement. His style feels like a nod to Mass Effect in some ways, offering up a pretty fully realized universe that one could easily assume was real. Riley's colors delve into dull pastels, save for Clara's fiery red hair which always stands out among the action.

Copperhead #1 starts off at a relatively slow pace, but the build-up to something grander is clearly being established. Clara plays the part of law figure tasked with earning the respect of the town of Copperhead, while at the same time fending off other external stressors from ruining her first year on the job. Faerber's script is solid and offers up in Clara a lead character who is more than capable of holding her own, even when faced with alien situations. Godlewski's illustrations are very crisp and act as the perfect complement in the burgeoning space tale. Copperhead #1 is a very strong first issue that only looks to get better as the series progresses, paying homage to works such as Deadwood and Firefly.

Copperhead #1 is in stores now with interiors below.