Storytellers Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski continue to deliver their space-based Western adventure in “Copperhead” #3 as Sheriff Clara Bronson tries to reach the bottom of a murder mystery in her new home of Copperhead. The murder victims were most of the Sewell family, but the matriarch of the household has an alibi as she is in Bronson’s custody.
Faerber deepens the mysterious aspects of this adventure by inserting Ishmael, an artificial being, into the cast. Gathering the pieces closer together, Faerber draws connections between Sewell and Ishmael. Those connections run through the Sheriff’s quarters, setting all of the characters in edge for the entirety of “Copperhead” #3 while casting the net for more mysteries and complications to fill future issues.
In addition to the Sewells, Ishmael and Sheriff Bronson, Faerber carves out bite-sized character development for Boo, the giant capybara-like, grumpy-as-all-hell deputy of Copperhead and Zeke, Bronson’s son. Neither character is afforded the opportunity to steal the spotlight in “Copperhead” #3, but they do share one of the more enjoyably comical moments in this comic book. Despite all appearances, Faerber ensures every one of these characters is hopelessly flawed and irrevocably human. After all, this just looks like spacefaring science fiction.
Artist Scott Godlewski is responsible for keeping the spacefaring action grounded. Mrs. Sewell is a four-armed, one-eyed behemoth, but she could just as easily be a five-foot tall Earthling. Godlewski brings emotion and passion through each and every character’s expression and body language, giving readers ample visuals to study. The aliens, the foreign terrain and the humans all mix together seamlessly in Godlewski’s art, not unlike the seedy cantina from a galaxy far, far away. The artist salts the visuals with enough details to provide the air of realism, but the characters have enough caricatureness about them to liberate the story and keep the action surreal. Colorist Ron Riley pitches in throughout “Copperhead” #3, occasionally adding texture and depth to otherwise open panels, projecting Godlewski’s characters forward and highlighting their struggles. In other instances, Riley and Godlewski blend their work, one into the other, adding history to the structures around Copperhead. Letterer Thomas Mauer gives voice to the residents of the alien mining town, and even attaches accents, such as when Bronson calls out to “Missus Sewell,” with just the slightest hint of a Southern drawl.
“Copperhead” #3 adds another enjoyable adventure to the pile of fun, exciting and entertaining reads from Image Comics in 2014. Faerber and Godlewski are quietly building a world around a mystery on a frontier. They’ve dressed it up to look like an alien adventure, but “Copperhead” is really a journey of discovery — of a new land, of strange people, mysterious threats and the motivation of a protagonist. “Copperhead” #3 nudges the main story and the development of the setting forward, giving readers just a little bit more to latch on to in the process.