In a dialog free issue of Copra #6, from Image Comics, Michael Fiffe has created an issue full of action, as citizens cower under the onslaught of a superhero powered invasion. Can the citizens survive, and will the reader understand what is happening? Find out in your next Major Spoilers review!
Writer: Michel Fiffe
Artist: Michel Fiffe
Editor: Michel Fiffe
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: June 3rd, 2020
Previously in COPRA: Team COPRA has always faced challenges, both domestic and foreign, head on in their trademark no holds barred technique. But now the big bad are extra big and bad, and the violence on offer will literally tear a city apart…
The heart and soul of comics, in my humble opinion, is the artwork. Sure, words and dialog give context and weight to the imagery, and can often elevate poor artwork if the writing is strong enough. But takeaway the words, and you have a series of static images. That’s when you begin to understand how good a creator is – can their artwork, without any dialogue/narration, be understandable as a story in and of itself?
In Copra #6, that’s the unenviable task creator Michel Fiffe has set himself. The issue comprises splash page after splash page of often gorgeous artwork, brilliantly released in Fife’s distinct style. The grandiose figures, the expansive vistas, all hark back to Kirby’s endlessly inventive quest to chronicle the power fantasy that comics can be. Be aware though, for the faint of heart, that Fiffe isn’t afraid to show examples of gore, as victims of the alien attack tend to be torn apart and the remains strewn about the page.
The biggest challenge is ensuring this collection of often startling images coheres into a solid story from which the reader can gain the same pleasure as if they were also reading the words, instead of admiring the images. For something so simple, it does ask a lot of a reader, who 99% of the time in the comic reading experience has had the benefit of the written word to help understand what it is they are seeing on the page. Does it succeed? Hmmm.
The artwork is spectacular. Huge figures tend to dominate the foreground, in a variety of power poses, while the deliberately less colorful citizens cower in the background or on the ground as a titanic battle rages above and around them. Buildings are torn apart, and topple into the street, ensuring survivors flee left and right off panel. The heroes and villains don’t merely stand about, the strut, the gesticulate, the bite their lip as powerful weapons are discharged during the battle. Figures are torn apart, figures are impaled and have their faces smashed in. There is no subtlety here, or if there is, it is overwhelmed by the proceedings around it. It is exhilarating stuff, embellished by Fife’s lovely coloring style , which looks like he’s grabbed all his colored pencils and proceeded to hand shade every character in sight.
I think the only real problem with COPRA #6 is that the absence of dialog means we lose a lot of motivation and characterisation. I would assume that Fiffe believes he has laid sufficient groundwork in earlier issues for dedicated readers to understand where the different characters are coming from, and why they are acting in certain ways during the battle. That’s fair enough. If you are, however, a new reader to this series, you are going to be at a disadvantage as to everyone’s true motivations. I mean, yes, it is easy to understand who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. But without anything else to go on, it’s tricky to understand why everyone is doing what they’re doing.
In the end though, that’s a minor quibble. REaders enraptured, as was I, by the sheer artistry on display will hunger to go back and find earlier issues to catch up with the whys and wherefores of the story. Even if you’re a little bit lost by what you’re reading, it’s such a pleasurable experience you will soon forget wondering exactly why these events are happening, and revel in the imagery.
As a bonus justifying the extra buck on top of the usual cover price, Fiffe has reprinted an earlier independent comic he created, Negatvieland, which demonstrates in leaps and bounds the evolution and improvement in his artistry.
BOTTOM LINE: FASCINATING
Top notch artwork provides enough impetus to ensure this wordless issue doesn’t flag as violence begets more violence as a city is torn apart.
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