‘Coda: Volume 1’ - Trade Paperback Review

What happens when the magic in a fantasy world vanishes?  In a moment, there is an absence of something that once was thought of as a necessity to life.

The term “coda” refers to the conclusion of a piece of art - the finale of a dance or musical section before the curtain is drawn and it all comes to an end.  In Simon Spurrier (Angelic, The Spire) and Matías Bergara’s (Cannibal, Supergirl) Coda, the story begins at the end, during a transitional time when a wondrous world becomes less Tolkien and much more George Miller.  After all, the high-fantasy literary tropes were told and exhausted.  The death of magic permeates sadness throughout the ashes of the old world and conjures the worst out of those affected most.  Although, this transition offers an opportunity to start anew and lays out an open frontier to be taken and tamed.  Luckily, where a post-apocalyptic tale has every right to be dour and bleak, Spurrier and Bergara choose to blossom new opportunities and endless possibilities for shell-shocked characters.  By starting Coda days after the catastrophic event, the creators offer the reader a chance to grow into this new otherworldly wild west along with its reluctant protagonist who refuses to let go of the past.      

BOOM! Studios’ Coda follows a loner looking for his lost love in the aftermath of a wondrous fantasy world, accompanied by a mutated pentacorn.  X (as he calls himself or Hum as others refer to him) is a diary-keeping former bard. This allows Simon Spurrier to narrate the story through our “hero” with purpose, instead of overwrought head thoughts.  The narration is carefully crafted by a poet... a dreadfully rude, sarcastic one.  Hum’s comedic outlook on the world's situation is perfectly intertwined with its violence at every turn, which serves as relief and almost a defense mechanism for a dishonest hero.  I can't help but feel for Hum, though.  His sole mission is valiant.  His myopic view causes him to make mistakes and use others’ kindness for his own benefit, but he has a heart - though it truly only beats only for one.  Coda is a story transition - of bandits, wasteland battles, and mermaids. But, for Hum, it's a story about love and what he is willing to do to free his love from her shackles.  

Only Matías Bergara could create the visual wonders on the page that make this world more alive than any book where magic is a colorful crutch.  The characters are so aesthetically unique and well designed that they are recognizable in silhouette.  The slightest drawn expressions are used as storytelling devices better than most writer’s scribe.  The series can stand alone completely by its art.  Bergara’s art is what drew me to this story in the first place.  The series demands to be repeatedly consumed for its art, as well as its story.  The background paints flow like watercolors in and over the lines, and the character colors go deep and vivid.  Every page uses light sources in a different way, allowing for new and interesting tones to engulf the subjects.  If I ever get a coffee table, Coda: Volume 1 is going to be planted front and center.  

Magic may be dead in Coda, but the story is overflowing with energy and promise.  Nothing lasts forever, and this is a story of people coming to grips with life as it goes on.  Maybe in a way that they never thought possible, but perhaps in a way that is preferred.  It’s a survivalist story seeded in Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons but without overused allegories and muted earth tones, allowing new ideas and intense colors to sprout and bloom.  I guarantee you have never read a fantasy series like this one.


Creative Team: Simon Spurrier (writer),  MatÍas Berara (artist) Michael Doig (color assists)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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