Just like its inspiration, Deadwood, I imagine that a key part of the appeal of Copperhead will be the slow but sure expansion of the cast of characters in this little alien mining town. This seems evident in the second issue of the series, as we meet the town doctor as well as learn more about the mysterious stranger who showed up at the end of last issue. What’s particularly striking about this second issue is that apparently while issue #1 was written via a detailed script by writer Jay Faerber, this second issue was written “Marvel” style, so that artist Scott Godlewski drew the series based on a more generalized plot by Faerber. What makes that striking is that there doesn’t really seem to be much of a difference between the first two issues as a reader, which shows to me that Faerber and Godlewski are really matching well as a collaborators (a good sign of this was already in the first issue, where apparently Godlweski added in the extra little detail of the Deputy mis-spelling Sheriff on his sign for the incoming sheriff, which I thought was an excellent demonstration of the difference between their two cultures – here was an obviously very smart guy who is still struggling with the language of the people who have conquered his own). Anyhow, let’s take a look at what this new writing arrangement entailed in the second issue of Copperhead…
Ron Riley continues to do a standout job on the colors for this series. The preview pages are essentially split between three scenes, and look at how Riley uses distinct approaches to make each individual scene stand out visually on its own.
The three sequences are the main ones for the entire issue, as we have Sheriff Clara Bronson’s son, Zeke, and his new friend find themselves in a heap of trouble out in the “Badlands.” You don’t want to be out late at night in the Badlands of America, Zeke, you DEFINITELY don’t want to be out in an alien Badlands, as we see when Zeke and his friend meet their new friend, Ishamel…
Man, Godlewski and Riley just NAIL that cut-off scene, don’t they? With the glowing eyes in the background? Spooky as heck.
Next, we see Clara and her deputy working the case they picked up last issue, as a family of trashy aliens are slaughtered in their home. As I noted in my review of #1, the key relationship of the series is between Sheriff Clara and her Deputy “Boo,” and the tension continues nicely in this issue…
Finally, we meet the town doctor, drowning his sorrows at the bar…
Faerber does a nice sneaky job of using the artificial human bartender to drop some exposition on us. We now know the name of the planet and an interesting fact about the planet.
Both Clara and Boo have standout sequences once they’ve separated. Last issue, Clara arrested the mother of the trashy family so now she has to inform the woman that her family is dead (unless the doc can save one of her sons). It’s a powerful scene between two mothers, with the arrested mother using that bond to really guilt Clara about separating her from her family in their time of need (it is doubly powerful when you realize that Clara’s son is currently ALSO separated from his mother at HIS time of need but she doesn’t currently know that).
Boo, meanwhile, uses a recorder to record his notes on the case and at the same time also express his annoyance over his place in society. He thinks he is being underappreciated and he’s probably correct, but at the same time, he has to realize that Clara is not his enemy and I suspect that one of the best parts of the series going forward is when he comes to that realization.
The book ends with Clara and Zeke reunited but with a big ol’ mystery staring Clara and us in the face. It’s all good that Ishamel is helpful and all, but WHY was he there and what is his deal exactly? I look forward to the next issue to find out.
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