Written by: Jay Faerber
Art by: Scott Godlewski
Published by: Image Comics
“Copperhead #1” was one of my favourite debuts of late 2014. With the arrival of the new year we see the conclusion of that opening story-arc in “Copperhead #5” and, like most mysteries, it proves that the journey is much more fun than the destination. Nothing seemed particularly clever about the ending to the brutal massacre from issue one and there’s relatively little payoff to the rest of the superb issues so far. “Copperhead #5” is compelling only in that the character dynamic and a fantastic world should be able to sustain this police procedural for some time without growing stale. If you’re looking for a dramatic cliffhanger to carry into the next story-arc then you may be disappointed. You can think of these first five issues as an episode of Law & Order but now that it’s over don’t expect a ton of call-backs to these events.
Ultimately, I guess I came away thinking that “Copperhead #5” played things very safe. Having said that, I also enjoyed that issue, mainly because Faerber and Godlewski have constructed characters that I can relate to and find enjoyable and also because the setting for this tale is so damn cool. Copperhead may not turn anything on its head, reinvent the wheel, or take dramatic story-telling risks but it doesn’t do anything poorly, either. Clichés and tropes become clichés and tropes because they work and they’re effective when telling a story and Faerber and Godlewski have used this to great effect with this series.
Visually, “Copperhead #5” remains consistent with the rest of the issues so far, which is another way of saying that it looks great. Godlewski has a tight, frenetic style that conveys tense action extremely well. On occasion stationary characters look stiff and facial expressions seem a bit awkward, but this becomes forgivable when he uses his sci-fi chops to create alien characters and locales that could only come from this book.
Perhaps the most exciting thing – and this is going to sound particularly stinging but hang with me here – about “Copperhead #5” is that it’s over. It has brought about the conclusion of the first story-arc for this series and it has given readers a chance to decide whether there is something in this series for them or not. If you’re like me, you’ve connected to the great characters and the dynamic between them, as well as the fun of being swept up into a mystery. The journey, in nearly every single story I’ve ever experienced, has been far more rewarding and exciting than the destination.
“Copperhead #5” proves that adding a few elements to a police procedural makes it infinitely more appealing. Add aliens, the dynamic of a Western and a setting that is distinctly science-fiction and you’ve added enough to get away with a safe story and clichéd characters. Faerber and Godlewski have done just enough to make this series one the many very good series Image is publishing right now. Achieving something even more impressive is something they’re talented enough to do, that much is clear, whether they’re ambitious enough to actually achieve it is something we’ll have to find out at the conclusion of the next story-arc.
“Copperhead #5” earns 7.7 out of 10