by Jay Hill on October 15, 2019

Written, penciled, inked, colored, and lettered by: Michel Fiffe
Published by: Image Comics

Michel Fiffe’s Copra #1 is the 32nd issue in the series. It follows a team named Copra that was highly inspired by Fiffe’s love of the 80’s run of Suicide Squad. He originally self-published the book providing the writing, inked art, colors, and lettering. But now it has found a home at Image (he still does all the production as before). And, although it’s a direct continuation of the ongoing story, this issue is still called the “#1”.

Confusing? Don’t worry about it. That isn’t just me saying so, that is the feeling you’ll get from reading this. Fiffe is well aware of the possibly puzzling reading experience of jumping into a supposed first issue that has over 30 issues of canonical backstory. Which is why there is a load of backmatter explaining all 31 issues. And, from the first page, we can tell from their interactions that these characters have a history. Fiffe’s dialogue though, somehow, never feels like it’s being filled with useless exposition or characters stating the obvious to catch up the reader. I even found that the backmatter explanations weren’t particularly vital to enjoying the story. Even when the team is made up of such a wide variety of characters, some from different planets and dimensions. In the issue, the needed information is naturally given when it is necessary, without killing the flow. 

And that is important since from the first pages of the story we’re thrown right into the Copra team’s next action-packed adventure. Action that is dynamically expressed in a blend of techniques, giving a single panel the feeling of multiple different movements. Fiffe’s long list of influences includes 60’s heavyweights Ditko and Kirby along with 80’s masters Simonson, Janson, and Miller. But his art never can be pinned down as being an ode to any particular artist or era. At both times his art is retro and futuristic. In moments of action, his lines are scratchy, inky, and bold all at once. Then, when still, they are neat and expressive. His colors undergo a similar adaption, with lightly brushed details at some points, flats at others, and then filled with expression when needed.

The unsung hero of the comic, in my mind, is the lettering. Not only is it neat and laid out to be perfectly readable, but since he provides it himself, it easily becomes another part of the whole image of the panel. Fiffe coalesces thought and dialogue bubbles, color codes the bubbles in one scene and even uses illustrations in interesting ways to express dialogue and emotion. Having his hand in every aspect of each page highlights all the best parts of the comic book medium, turning the reading of this story into an ambiance only achievable when all elements are perfectly in tune with each other.

Even when certain parts of the story seem perplexing, it feels purposeful. At one point the story inexplicable takes us “elsewhere” and brings us back with no explanation. It is all done with the assumption that when necessary we’ll understand what everything means. At points, characters from the earlier issues appear without a full explanation of their back story or their relations to the Copra team. And, this can give the reader an immediate feeling that they’ve missed out on some vital information by not reading the other issues. I chose not to read the past issues when I first heard this was coming, to see how it was going to be pulled off. After I was able to take my mind off the history, I found that it works just as well as a #1 as any #1 I’ve read.

It works so well, that by the final cliffhanger ending, I found myself already attached to the characters in peril. And, that’s because I know the relationships that existed earlier because it was explained simply throughout the issue. I’m anticipating the next installment not just to see how the story progresses, but to see more of the entire visual nature of the book. Copra isn’t just a joy to read, it’s a joy to see.

Our Score:


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