Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Coda, by Simon Spurrier and Matias Begara

This thrilling, 12-part comic is a journey through a High Fantasy landscape sometime after a terrible war. The surviving people and creatures now squabble over the last traces of magical power, and Hum - a former bard with a false leg and faltering morals - is prepared to do unsavoury things if it means acquiring enough magic to save his wife. But does she even want saving?

Having collected each issue as it came out, I'd been saving this until I could enjoy it in as few sittings as possible. It presents such a richly realised world, somewhere between Jabberwocky and Krull, that's joyously messy and violent and strange. The artwork is beautiful, and the story full of twists and turns. Yet the revelations at the end all based on things that have long been set up.

What really makes this strange world work is the well-drawn characterisation - myriad people whose wants and humour and loss we readily comprehend. Hum is an unreliable narrator of someone else's story, chafing at the stock conventions of quests and heroic valour. As a whole, Coda has fun playing against cliche, though two leading women just so happen to not wear many clothes. In all, it's exactly the kind of wild, imaginative epic I'd have loved during my teenage passion for comics. It's a pleasure to revisit that lost world.

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