Monday, June 20, 2016

Copra, Rounds One & Two

I bought both of these books at HeroesCon last summer but only got to read them very recently. Oh man, I am glad I finally did.
What can I say about Copra? It is not quite a superhero book, though it features lots of super-powered individuals. The stories follow a secret government project that employs powerful criminals, sending them on covert, highly dangerous missions. Those who make it back alive received reduced sentences, but they are not really reformed. If anything, they are encouraged to keep on being rotten people.

The artwork in these books is exceptionally gorgeous, and the storytelling taut and action-packed. For fans of comic books, particularity those from the 1990s, there are fun riffs on Dr. Strange, the Punisher, and the Reavers, as well as the obvious Suicide Squad framework that structures the whole narrative. Even though the characters are homages/tributes/analogs of some familiar characters, the costume and figure designs are outstanding. A lot of the commentary I have read about these books talks about it being "superheroes on acid" or something like that, but I think that description sells short just how imaginative and eye-catching the designs are.
Exhibit A

I have to say that these are some of the best action-oriented comics I have read in a while. Most of the chapters start in the middle of some scene, and there is not a whole lot in the way of exposition, but I think that is a great thing here. Part of the fun for me was figuring out what was going on and then how the protagonists were going to get themselves out of multiple tight spots. Also, not really knowing what characters' motivations were made me have to really wonder what they were up to, which created some sense of confusion as well as intrigue. These are not simple comics, but they really reward multiple re-readings.
Exhibit B
Copra is the work of Michel Fiffe, a comics artist dedicated to self-publishing the best, most beautiful comics on the market. He sells most of his work through his Etsy store, and he also has another series called Zegas. He speaks about his works and career in this interview.

All of the reviews I have read about these books and the series as a whole have been full of praise. Chris Sims wrote that it contains "genuinely masterful storytelling that engages the reader on every level." Brian Nicholson called it "a comic built, refreshingly for some, around action sequences, with the visual artist pushing himself to experiment and find an approach for each that feels new and worth the reader’s dollar." Matthew Meylikhov summed up by calling it "a pretty fucking awesome comic."

These collections of Copra collect 6 issues each, so I read #1-12 here, and they were published by Bergen Street Comics Press. These books features lots of violence and swearing, as well as some of the best comics storytelling I have seen in a while, and they are suggested for readers who can handle all of those things.

I just saw Michel Fiffe at HeroesCon this past weekend, and I picked up Round 3. I won't wait a whole year to read it, let me tell you. Also, Round 4 will be published soon, if you are interested...

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