Indie Comics: Spotlight Copperhead, Dawn and Vampirella, and Wild’s End

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Copperhead #1

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“There’s two Fs, you know. In ‘Sheriff.’ Your little sign. You spelled ‘Sheriff’ wrong.”

Every settlement needs a good sheriff. Someone to keep the peace and reinforce the law. And while every town can’t be fortunate (?) enough as Mega-City One and have judges, some do get lucky enough to have an authority figure to do all of the above. In Copperhead #1 from Image Comics, that someone is a brand new arrival. The issue is written by Jay Faerber, illustrated by Scott Godlewski, colored by Ron Riley, and lettered by Thomas Mauer.

Welcome to Copperhead, a grimy mining town on the edge of a backwater planet. Single mom Clara Bronson is the new sheriff, and on her first day she’ll have to contend with a resentful deputy Budroxifincus, a shady mining tycoon, and a family of alien hillbillies. Not to mention, her first major case just so happens to be a pretty hefty massacre. All in a day’s work for the new sheriff of Copperhead.

Just about anyone is a sucker for a good western tale and setting said tale in space is icing on the storytelling cake. In that regard, Faerber exceeds expectations with Copperhead #1, offering a world rich with vibrant personalities and teeming with a frontier mentality. Bronson is characterized as a no-nonsense authority figure who breezes from one incident to another, refusing to let seemingly large stumbling blocks slow her down in the process. Faerber’s dialogue is very snappy as well, helping populate Copperhead with a wide variety of characters that generally fit into stereotypes, but still manage to feel original within the context of the book. Copperhead feels like a very established world, which helps to make Clara’s travails feel that much more earned.

It’s pretty apparent from the illustrations that Godlewski put a lot of attention to detail. Characters exhibit very clean lines that define them easily for the reader’s eye. Copperhead is nothing if not diverse and Godlewski excels at making that diversity feel more homogenous; that is, he handles the varying character models with a relative ease that makes Copperhead feel like a unified (for the most part) settlement. His style feels like a nod to Mass Effect in some ways, offering up a pretty fully realized universe that one could easily assume was real. Riley’s colors delve into dull pastels, save for Clara’s fiery red hair which always stands out among the action.

Copperhead #1 starts off at a relatively slow pace, but the build-up to something grander is clearly being established. Clara plays the part of law figure tasked with earning the respect of the town of Copperhead, while at the same time fending off other external stressors from ruining her first year on the job. Faerber’s script is solid and offers up in Clara a lead character who is more than capable of holding her own, even when faced with alien situations. Godlewski’s illustrations are very crisp and act as the perfect complement in the burgeoning space tale. Copperhead #1 is a very strong first issue that only looks to get better as the series progresses, paying homage to works such as Deadwood and Firefly.

Copperhead #1 is in stores now.


Dawn/Vampirella #1

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“I’ve been to hell, and this ain’t it. Believe it or not, hell smells better.”

If you’ve got a character who’s lasted 25 years, then you’re doing something right. If you pair that character with someone who’s lasted 45 years, then you’re really doing something right. If you offer a recounting of their team-up in a new comic series, then people will likely be very happy. Dynamite Entertainment really likes happy people and Dawn/Vampirella #1 celebrates two characters with an abundance of longevity. The issue is written and illustrated by Joseph Michael Linsner, colored by Valentina Pinto, and lettered by Jeff Eckleberry.

Dawn and Vampirella find themselves abducted by Masodik, a demon who wants to see his own personal show: a duel between femme fatales. Masodik wants a mate and no mortal woman will do. Like all demons, he aims high and has grand ideas about himself; only a Goddess or the Queen of the Vampires will do. Dawn suggests a storytelling contest as a more civilized challenge.

Linsner has been writing Dawn for 25 years and it really shows in Dawn/Vampirella #1. Dawn is extremely calm under pressure and able to handle her own and Vampirella is presented as something more of a hothead. Neither characterization is far off, but the story feels sort of like Vampirella is visiting Dawn’s world as opposed to the book being a crossover. That’s not a knock against Linsner’s story; it’s actually pretty entertaining and seems to be a great way to bring the two characters together for the crossover. Pivoting the story from violence to storytelling makes it very unique, as it gives Linsner a chance to delve into the histories of both characters as they draw from their experiences.

Both Vampirella and Dawn have well-established looks to them and Linsner does an excellent job rendering those characteristics. His panel layouts feel pretty dynamic alongside the story as it plays out, staggering a wide variety of insets amidst full-page illustrations. The style affords the reader an acquaintance with demons without sending the characters to hell, which keeps things fresh. Masodik showcases the most demonic traits in the entire book and Linsner depicts him with a sly smile and devilish appearance.

Dawn/Vampirella #1 is worthy homage to two characters who have their own individual histories. Blending those characters together is done in a way that feels natural and offers up both of their talents in traversing the demonic obstacles thrown their way. Linsner is very familiar with Dawn and uses that to the advantage of the book, while he does a solid job characterizing Vampirella as well. His art style is very befitting of the title, presenting a nostalgia to characters who are well-established. Dawn/Vampirella #1 is a very intriguing first issue that fans of both series will definitely want to check out, as Dawn and Vampirella are arguably the only two who can truly match one another.

Dawn/Vampirella #1 is in stores now.


Wild’s End #1

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“It weren’t no shootin’ star. It were a fallin’ star.”

A rabbit stands in a bar and holds a town meeting. The other citizens are paying attention to him, respecting his wishes. He’s then interrupted by a drunk fox. Sounds like the start of a bad joke. Or it’s part of a new series from BOOM! Studios starting with Wild’s End #1, written by Dan Abnett and illustrated/lettered by I.N.J. Culbard.

On a seemingly calm night out in a rural English community in the 1930s, Fawkesie and Bodie are enjoying libations. That is, until they see a rather bright object hurtle through the sky before crashing. It’s a dark spot in the plans of Gilbert Arrant and Peter Minks to throw the annual party that celebrates the town. Now the town is the victim of an alien invasion and the residents’ lives are upended by the harsh realities of life-and-death violence. Led by the town’s outsider Mr. Slipaway (a retired war veteran), they will have to rally together to uncover the secret of their invaders and ultimately fight back.

Abnett’s getting a lot of buzz recently on the backs of the massive success of Guardians of the Galaxy, but he’s definitely worked on a lot of other stories, most of which feature some intergalactic element. In that regard, Wild’s End #1 feels sufficiently cosmic, as there’s an alien invasion upending the status quo for the residents of Hightop Wood. What makes the book stand out, though, is Abnett’s use of animals as the characters. The book would have felt pretty boring had it featured humans in pretty standard roles, so it’s a nice change that the characters are actually anthropomorphized animals. And any time you can feature a drunk fox as the harbinger of bad news, all the better. The dialogue feels pretty quick and moves the story along briskly, ultimately positioning the series as an “us vs. them” book that feels inspired by recent works such as The World’s End.

Culbard does some pretty nifty things with the art that makes Wild’s End #1 work. Pages evidence a glow that reflects the time of day as well as some of the characters on the page. For instance, night scenes rely on dark blues, while day scenes rely on vibrant greens. There are a couple of pages featuring one of the town’s residents who’s a pig that’s awash in pink, but also serves as a notice that the sun is setting on the day. The animals feature bold outlines that reflect a very clean and concise imagery depicting the previously idyllic town’s routine being interrupted. The style just feels fresh and rather elegantly conveys the increase in action in Hightop Wood.

Wild’s End #1 is a fascinating book, largely because of the characters involved. The core story is very familiar in terms of an alien invasion, but there are some new twists in here that keeps things from feeling too stale. Abnett has a talent for churning out interesting cosmic stories and it remains to be seen how much interaction the characters will have with the alien visitors. Culbard’s panel layouts are very tidy and reflect an equal level of routine that the characters of Hightop Wood expect from their sleepy hamlet on a daily basis. Wild’s End #1 doesn’t really fall into any specific category and is a new book to add to your list if you’re looking for something a little different.

Wild’s End #1 is in stores now.


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