Monday, December 15, 2014

The Pull List: Copperhead #4 Review

Clara Bronson is a badass. This just goes without saying. She's almost the opposite of Low's Stel, the eternal, incurable optimist. Clara looks at the world realistically, not quite willing to go completely dark. But what both women have in common - in addition to their willingness to break established rules when they don't fit the situation - is that they hold family close to their hearts, ready to go to depths usually avoided in order to protect those they love. However, as complex and intriguing a character Clara is, she definitely shares the spotlight with Boo (aka Budroxifinicus) in this issue. Writer Jay Faerber splits the narrative between the two and manages to keep me interested in both, a feat that's not always accomplished easily (ahem, the Frodo-Sam half of the The Return of the King).
Via Image Comics
(No spoilers below the cut!)

The plot might not have gone forward very much, but there was enough subtle character development, even for unknown characters, that I didn't really notice or care. Clara has a history of being a ball-buster - as if that's hard to believe - and Boo fought in the war that leaves him with a sour taste in his mouth toward any off-worlders. The doctor who calls the police has a complete lack of any discernment toward his sexual partners, and Zeke is growing even more distant from his mother than he already was. Other than the rumors going around town about him, Ishmael is the only character that really feels like a total mystery: good or bad? Neither? Who knows? Just, you know, don't call him an "artie." This is the kind of thing I'm talking about when I say that I like being told just enough: throw me in the middle of something and slowly reveal it to me, piece by piece. It's like when you meet someone you possibly will befriend. Depending on the kind of person you are, you may feel like they reveal too much at the beginning, where you are overwhelmed and just want to take a breather, or they may be too secretive, enough so that you lose interest. There has to be that particular balance for me to want to continue to read a comic, and Copperhead has established as close to a perfect rhythm as you could possibly hope for.

Scott Godlewski's art remains consistently excellent*, and I adore his inking style. It reminds me of a cleaner version of Jason Latour's work in Southern Bastards: just sketchy enough that it looks like a backwater type planet, but not nearly as hard or raw as Craw County and its denizens. His handling of shadows is brilliant, and Ron Riley's coloring just brings the whole picture together. I could stare for hours at his textured watercolor backgrounds, and they really make the more simply colored characters stand out.

This is going to be one of the few series that I'm going to purchase hard copy issues of when I move and no longer have a job at a comic shop. Like many of the others - Bitch PlanetRachel Rising, Low, The Wicked + The Divine, etc.** - it's a creator-owned indie comic that, unlike its Marvel or DC counterparts, doesn't necessarily always have big companies behind it, making sure that the series continues (sigh, Wonder Woman, what have they done to you?). Luckily, Copperhead is proving to be a success, so, unless Faerber and Godlewski get bored of the series, we'll have the privilege of learning more about this world and what makes it tick for a good, long time.

* My only complaint is a minor one. Is it just me or does Zeke's head just seem too big for his body? In one panel, it looks giant in comparison to the rest of him. Granted, it could be that children's heads are bigger than normal? But I never noticed that before? I don't know. It seemed rather arbitrary, which is why I didn't include it in the main text, but I wanted to just get it out there.
** Oddly enough, all of these titles have women as their main characters. Coincidence? I think not.
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