The Western is something of a dying genre in many mediums, however, the sci-if Western appears to be exerting itself as a successor within comic books. Jay Faerber adds to this up and coming sub-genre with his first issue of Copperhead #1, but will this title be a gun-slinging success or will it make as much noise as a tumbleweed rolling by?
Clara Bronson is a single mother, travelling with her son, to a new job as the sheriff in the colony town of Copperhead. However, no sooner does she arrive, and Bronson and her newly met deputy Boo, are dealing with a family dispute which turns into a mass killing, but who is responsible? As the new sheriff she takes the new role in her stride, as she encounters Benjamin Hickory, the man who seemingly runs the town just as her son, Zeke, encounters trouble of his own while trying to follow his mothers example.
With it’s mix of science fiction and western tropes, Copperhead #1 is a really entertaining read, primarily because it doesn’t attempt to shy away from its influences. Jay Faerber has successfully taken the best elements of old fashioned westerns, while injecting some great science-fiction aspects which give it a very subtle Firefly vibe (specifically the Train Job episode).
Just as the world of Joss Whedon’s western in space is populated with strong characters (many of whom are women) so too does Copperhead with it’s main protagonist really helping form the heart of this book. Sheriff Bronson, is both the tough no-nonsense lead character we expect from the western genre, but she is also a mother which gives her actions a much more multi-layered dimension with the writing allowing her to come across strongly as she tries to juggle the two roles in her life.
Of course, no comic book can be successful without good art and Copperhead comes up trumps thanks to Scott Godlewski. With in-depth panels portraying a rich and detailed world he perfectly captures the rough-and-ready nature of the western world while retaining the shiny lines of the science-fiction and space elements. He especially seems to have fun with the brilliant Sewell family who are like a mix of the Beverly Hillbillies and Ghostbuster’s Slimer and the awesome Deputy Boo who may is one of our favourite supporting characters in recent memory.
Godlewski is ably assisted by Ron Riley on colours who helps to give the book a feeling so dry you’ll want to dust off your iPad once you finished reading it!