Menachem Luchins is back with another You Should Be Reading This! And he’s got Copra with him!
One year ago, Michel Fiffe surprised some people by putting out a superhero book. Fiffe had spent the last year putting out Zegas, a one-man anthology that showcased a wide range of subjects, styles, and ambitions. Fiffe, the independent’s independent brought the weird, the wacky, and the surreal in Zegas. So why a superhero book? Sure, the man had penned Deathzone, an homage to John Ostrander’s run on DC’s Suicide Squad, but that didn’t mean that he should stop making all this great art just to play with characters in tights.
To add insult to ennui, Michel vowed to self-publish in the truest sense (even folding the printed comics with his own [and his intern’s] hands) and to deliver all 24 fully-colored pages MONTHLY. Well, that’s it, we all thought, another indy artist trying to climb too far too fast. Maybe it was a drunken challenge, maybe he’d been reading too many Dave Sim manifestos; whatever it was, Fiffe was setting himself up for failure and pain.
Copra #12 comes out this month, wrapping up one year and the full run of one of the finest superhero stories in modern memory. Far more than an analog or homage, but borrowing a number of ideas from recognizable places, Fiffe has crafted a super-tights adventure that harkens back to not only one company’s stable of characters or one era, but to everything that makes superheroes so daring and experimental. Copra is Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson’s Astro City if it had been drawn by the obsessive love-child of Walt Simonson, Erik Larsen and Moebius. Yeah, take a second to let that sink it.
What starts as a personal, off-the-record mission by a secret government team of misfits and criminals quickly becomes a fiasco that levels an entire town. Disavowed and on the run, the remaining members of the team eventually end up recruiting past members, an other-dimensional cop, and a sorcerer and his apprentice/lover. Intrigue follows intrigue and the perspective jumps from character to character, giving us their back story, their hopes and dreams, and their personal motivations and feelings about the current mission.
It’s easy to dismiss the characters in Copra as analogs of “real” superheroes. One clearly sees Amanda Waller, Deadshot, Dr. Strange and a slew of others in Fiffe’s creations but, like with Astro City before it, the familiar is not a “jumping off” point for these new characters, rather a suggestion. Issue #7 proves this most simply but turning a huge info dump of back story and motivation into a very emotional and intense visit into one person’s head as she mourns a friend.
And the art! Don’t get me started, as I’m almost at my word count. So here are a few more images:
As Copra is self-published, you won’t find it everywhere. You can buy Issue #6 and on directly from Fiffe at his Etsy shop.
Who would like this book: fans of John Ostrander’s epic Suicide Squad run, readers of Larsen’s Savage Dragon and watchers of complex action like 24 on TV and Deja Vu in film.