Writer: Simon Spurrier /Artist: Matías Bergara/BOOM! Studios
What sweeter way to start your adventure (don’t call it a quest, don’t ever use the Q-word) than with a love letter? You know, one that you write while hungover…to your wife…who has been kidnapped. Sweet as pie. Welcome to CODA.
The world that Simon Spurrier and Matías Bergara created in CODA is as sarcastic and cynical as it is beautiful and vast. Spurrier’s writing plays on the dichotomies found between our dreams of fantasy and the problems of reality. There is rampant drug addiction, genocide, and a twist that shows the depths of human depravity. All covered in Bergara’s glorious art and vibrant colors. The fantasy is real, so real it hurts.
This introductory mega-issue displays all the slime and splendor of a world driven by a magic that is almost dried up. The main character remains nameless and mostly silent, only revealing his true thoughts through the letter he will never send. He is reluctantly altruistic and this makes him relatable to all us broke folks who curse ourselves for having a conscience.
While CODA #1 is mostly spent setting the scene and introducing all the players: there are three overarching problems that present themselves. Save your own, save the weak, or save the world. We’re 43 pages in and those goals are already in deep conflict. Our man is pretty quick to do the right thing in small scenarios. Extrapolating to a global scale isn’t so easy. To save his wife he must cripple the town that took him in. To help the orphan girl, he must compromise his own security. To save the world, he must condone horror and potentially sacrifice both his soulmate and his soul. Bedtime reading, y’all.
But with a foul-mouthed pentacorn who revels in destruction, a hedonistic mermaid (aptly and hilariously named Murkrone), and Three Stooge-like caricatures of paladins, how can you not want more? Spurrier and Bergara have created a masterpiece that uses orcs and dragons to pull on our deepest human instincts. CODA challenges us to be truly honest, even in a world of fantasy.
10 Murderous Pentacorns out of 10