Coda Vol. 1 (Discover Now Edition)
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Illustrator, Cover: Matías Bergara
Color Assistant: Michael Doig
Letterer: Jim Campbell & Colin Bell
Publisher: Boom! Studios
A Review by Christoph Staffl
Coda is a new fantasy comic by Boom! Studios and tells the story of Hum and his Pentacorn Nag. Yes, the rumors are true, there is a Pentacorn in town, and it is awesome. I want one. Together the duo is looking for a way to safe Hum’s wife from the Urken. But there is a problem: since “the quench” there is no new magic in this strange world – the old rules don’t apply anymore. They meet old enemies, new friends, immortal dragons, and a lot of “the green” along the way. Can they safe Serka, before it is too late?
But don’t be mistaken, Coda is not your typical fantasy story. Take Hum for example. He is in many ways an appealing main character. First of all, I am not even sure what his real name is. When somebody asks him who he is, his response always is an almost silent: “hm.” So the characters Hum is involved with just assume that’s what he said, when in fact he didn’t say anything. However, this trait fits his other features perfectly. A lot of times it seems like he does not care or at least is bored with the things going on. He just cares about his wife and figuring out a way to save her. Just a few things make Hum react emotionally or express some kind of interest.
There is his Pentacorn Nag, of course. I mean, who would not look out after their Pentacorn. How Hum got it or who Nag really belongs to (if Nag even belongs to anybody) is still an open question. Either way, I find the idea romantic, that they are both connected by finding solutions to problems, they cannot solve separately. It does not have to be a tragic past or anything like that. Let’s call it fate instead. Also, the fact that Nag speaks some kind of language puts the Pentacorn in a position no other animal in this world share. Ylfs and giants are treated way worse than Nag – if they even exist anymore.
Other than that, Hum does not really have a connection to the world he lives in. Sometimes I get the feeling he is aware of existing in a fantasy world. Throughout the first volume, he comments on the world and events through which he travels. It is similar to Deadpool, but without breaking the fourth wall and instead of talking to himself, he writes in his journal. One great example of a comment is his repulsiveness towards the word quest. It is a world we, as the readers, might mostly connect to fantasy-worlds and role-playing games. The characters or the protagonist has to go through a series of quests. But not Hum. He refuses to use to word. Even hates it.
Another example might be when he meets a particular group of knight-ish characters. It is also something a fantasy-story might need, but Hum’s reaction nullifies everything they stand for. In my opinion, these reactions and comments are a great way to not only play with tropes of the genre, but also with the expectations of the readers. Be it the damsel-in-distress-trope, the wise-old-wizard-trope or many others. Even solutions to problems are sometimes more straightforward than one might think. Hum did come around quite a bit in his world and knows how to talk to people. What they want or what their role in a certain situation is.
This goes along with his physique. He is not your typical knight in shining armor. He does not really fight. Nag is never far away and always seems happy to not only help but fight. What else is there to do with those mighty horns?
All of this elevates the storytelling. You never know what the next page might bring to the table and what trope might be turned on its head. The world the creative team presents us here is vast, and every little detail thought through. If you thought immortality might be something romantic and quite enjoyable, you might feel different, after reading Coda.
Still, Coda would not be what it is without the beautiful artwork. The colors, the details, and the wild, sometimes chaotic drawings are a perfect fit for this world. Though the panel structure seems to be all over the place, your eyes are guided smoothly through the pages. You know exactly where everything is and don’t get lost.
Read it! Coda Volume 1 is a collection you don’t want to miss. I thought I might trade-wait on this series, but after reading Volume 1, I might have to switch over to reading it monthly. A lot of thought went into creating this world, and I want to explore every corner of it. With Hum and his Pentacorn Nag, we have the perfect guides. Especially because Hum seems to have it all in control and figured out. That makes the scenes where he doesn’t, even more enjoyable.