By Jay Faerber
Image Comics, 2015. 128 pgs. Graphic Novel. Science Fiction
Clara Benson, single mother and tough as nails cop, lands a job as the new sheriff on a dusty back-water hole of a planet in the wake of an interstellar war. Here and there the reader gets tidbits of backstory- mention of artificial humans created to fight battles, aliens bitter about the conquest, a separate peace treaty with the mysterious natives- but the real meat of Copperhead lays in Clara’s constant upheaval of the town’s expectations.
Every character in Copperhead’s cast gets a full personality; without dwelling overlong on exposition, Faerber manages to develop motivations and personalities that leave the reader wanting more. Copperhead leans on common tropes for Westerns (Dukes of Hazard fans will recognize the Boss Hogg breed of kingpin), but the science fiction setting throws them into new and fresh light. The artwork is clear and beautiful, and works well with the script to show the deep emotions of the rough characters. Copperhead has action, mystery, and deep family loyalty woven throughout; it is one of my favorite graphic novels.