Space western with a new sheriff in town! After the interesting if uneventful first volume introduces the main characters, things begin to heat up in volume 2. Sheriff and single-mom Clara goes down to the saloon for a night on the town, and ends up throwing a street tough in jail when he gets rough with some of the saloon girls. Turns out his brother runs an outlaw gang, and they make off into the badlands with Clara’s deputy Boo (er, Budroxifinicus) as a hostage. Meanwhile, Clara’s husband(?) escapes from a maximum-security prison facility…
I’m still on the fence whether or not Copperhead’s plot is starting to take off yet, since it’s still largely covering ground we’ve already seen before: space western fixings with police procedural elements and post-war inter-species friction. While the characters are strong and the setting is evocative, story-wise it’s not covering a lot of new ground, though this volume shows the reader some Clara and Boo backstory (in the form of her husband’s prison breaks and his war flashbacks, respectively). And the action is heating up with Boo held hostage, though I’m not really sure the villains had any motive to take him hostage other than “plot demanded it.” And I kind of miss that Clara’s son didn’t appear in this volume, since being a single-mom sheriff helped humanize Clara and make her unique.
All told, I like the series for its sharp, sparse art, intriguing characters, and cool space western colors. But I’m still waiting for it to blow my mind in the way Image’s other series (Saga, East of West, The Wicked + The Divine, etc) did; it’s treading the same space opera grounds we’ve seen before, and while volume 2’s arc is very well done, there’s nothing original or out-of-the-ordinary here. I’m on the fence between giving it 3 or 4 stars [on Goodreads, you see], and really wish there was a 3.5 option… Maybe I’m just too picky. Copperhead is proving to be a fun and entertaining read, but again, I’m still waiting for it to really wow me. I’ll come back for the art, but the story really needs to kick into high gear in volume 3 for me to keep reading.
Do I recommend this/will I continue reading it?: I like where it’s going, but volume 3 is going to make it or break it—it’s ok, but missing any “wow” factor so far.
Recommended for fans of: Firefly, Bravestarr, Outlaw Star, Cowboy Bebop, literal space westerns in general.
Not recommended for readers who: want something a little bit more than a bunch of cool tropes thrown together; who are allergic to literal space westerns.
Author: Jay Faerber
Illustrator: Scott Godlewski
First Published: 2015
What I Read: Image, 2015
Price I Paid: $5.99 (Kindle/Comixology sale)
MSRP: $14.99 hc / $11.99 ebook
ISBN/ASIN: 1632154714 / B017709718