Simon Spurrier (writer), Matias Bergara (illustration), Michael Doig (colors), Colin Bell (letters)
May 2, 2018
Here’s what all the other reviews of Coda #1 may not tell you: this comic book is a love letter. Not the kind of romantic, titillating, sensual love letter that may come to mind. This is not Lord Byron. Coda is a darker kind of love letter, a story missing the letter’s recipient in form but not in spirit. In many ways the reader becomes Serka, the wife of the main character, as they read the narrative of his struggle back to her. Mr. Hum, the white-haired, sarcastic husband, has no fear as he ventures through the post-magical frontier east of the Urkenpeaks to get Serka back.
Behind this love story lies the hidden emotions of Mr. Hum and his daily frustrations and amusements. In his missives there is evidence of personal growth and change wrought through Serka’s decisions before the two of them were separated. Mr. Hum takes her advice as he writes to her, though it is clear that he did not take her advice while they were together, an action he regrets. Coda #1 hints at “too little, too late” in every inquiry Mr. Hum makes after his wife.
This comic book is also a love letter to fantasy writing, sorcery, paladins, dragons, sarcastic wit, and strong women. Within a few pages we are introduced to a new kind of companion animal: the pentacorn, a vengeful beast full of rage and uncontrollable violence. Mr. Hum has somehow, unbeknownst to the reader, made friends with such a companion. There are vagrants, vagabonds, robbers, children, and tricksters. Readers are introduced to nearly a dozen different side characters in the story, and none of them are wasted. The action still moves, along with the emotional impact, towards finding Serka. The drama and dialogue of great fantasy keeps this comic book going from beginning to end.
Simon Spurrier’s writing is fun, yet dark. Matias Bergara’s illustrations sweep the reader from page to page while Michael Doig’s perfect palettes make the world believable. Another part of this comic book that was cared for with love were the letters; whispered words become small and gray while shouting is exaggerated with sentences that look like heavy metal. All of these creators perfected critical details in bringing together Coda, a comic series that feels magical though it is set in an era of post-magic.
Those who have appreciated Adventure Time, Game of Thrones, The Name of the Wind, and similar fantasy stories will love Coda #1. Yes, it is a love letter, written for Serka and a little for the audience. It is also a quest with unclear paths that leave the reader curious from panel to panel. Coda does not bore at any stage; if anything, it is over far too soon. At over forty pages, this is a lovely beginning to a intricately woven tale whose second issue cannot come quickly enough.