Copperhead #5 came out last week, ending the first arc of the consistently great new series. Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski bring us to the close with proper flair and just the briefest hint of things to come.
The issue opens on the standoff between Sheriff Bronson and Ishmael. It’s tense as they size each other up in the pouring rain and the art here is some of my favorite in the series. Ishmael is hidden in shadow, a nice contradiction to the fully exposed face of Bronson. From here, the story unfolds quickly as the pieces of the case are tied together effectively. It’s a payoff that has been successfully foreshadowed in the book and it feels well earned. Clara has some great character moments with her son and Missus Sewell and things finally appear to be looking up. And that final page guarantees that readers will be back for the next issue.
Faerber nails this issue. It’s good to see the payoff of the case, but it also makes great use of the momentum to explore the character’s relationships. The emphasis is taken off of the crime being solved and placed squarely on Bronson’s interactions with her supporting cast, allowing for some genuinely touching moments. It was an unexpected focal point and I appreciated the change up. The action scenes were crisp, fast-paced, and satisfying to read.
This issue has some of my favorite art in the series so far. The scenes in the desert between Ishmael and Sheriff Bronson stand out in particular. The characters are lovingly portrayed, but the rain-filled backgrounds in the desert adds a beauty to the panels that sets it apart from the typical desert settings. Godlewski has done a lot of the characterization in the series through his expressive faces and body language, and this issue’s payoff works so well largely because of this. Colorist Ron Riley does really outstanding work in the issue bringing the emotions to life and boosting the raining panels to fantastic heights.
The end of the Sewell case was interesting, but it was the characters and the setting that really make this issue and series stand out. Copperhead is a town that I’d never want to live in, but I never want to leave. I can’t wait to see what Faerber and Godlewski have in store for the next arc.