This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Coda
I feel like it’s been a little while since I actually wrote a new Underrated column, given the Valiant Hero Of The Week content that has been coinciding with the column’s regular time slot, but this week I wanted to talk about Coda. Coda is series about a world after the great cataclysm, a post apocalyptic story in a world not unlike Middle Earth from Lord Of The Rings where magic, a once plentiful resource, has become a scarcely sought after treasure.
Originally published by Boom as a twelve issue series, Coda has since been collected into three trade paperback collections, which is how I read the complete story. Written by Simon Spurrier with art by Mattias Bergara, the story follows former bard Hum.
A man of few words, Hum seeks a way to save the soul of his wife with nothing but a foul-tempered mutant unicorn and his wits to protect him. He is unwillingly drawn into a brutal power struggle he has little interest in which will decide forever who rules the Weird Wasteland.
The above paragraph is roughly paraphrased from the preview blurb of the first comic, because if you choose to go into the book, then there are a couple of moments early on that I want you to experience the same way I did; having no idea that they would be coming. It won’t make or break the story if you find out about them before you read, but it’s more fun if you don’t know what happening.
Spurrier and Bergara take you on a fantastic journey through the twelve issues or three volumes of Coda, and introduce you to some really interesting characters and story mechanics. If you’re a fantasy fan, then the way this book approaches its world is going to be one you want to have a look at. The standout character in the book is Hum’s mutant unicorn, because his frequent cursing seems to come at just the time to elicit a chuckle from the reader.
The mutant unicorn, affectionately labelled the Nag (or a pentacorn) is just one of a fantastic cast of characters to populate the book. Spurrier breaths a real sense of life and humanity into these often inhuman beings that gives a real sense that the story didn’t start with the first issue – we’ve just picked it up here. What went before, and who Hum really was, aren’t explicitly stated, but we know he was a bard and we know the world ended and magic is gone. Backstory isn’t given explicitly, rather it’s teased out and hinted at as the tale proceeds across strange and stunning vistas that break the traditional fantasy mould and skew more toward a post-apocalyptic design. Which makes perfect sense.
Coda is a story for fantasy fans, but also for those who want an intensely personal story of self discovery. This isn’t the type of comic that treads water, and is always moving at a brisk pace. I devoured all three volumes in a single sitting (or would have if I purchased all three at the same time – after finishing the first, I ordered the others from my comic shop immediately).
I’ve really not heard many people talking about Coda. It wasn’t until I saw the first volume on the shelf the last day my shop was properly open that I had even heard of it. That’s why I wanted to point you toward it today; there’s a chance you’ll find your next favourite Underrated gem of a comic story.
That’s all we have for this week, folks. Come back next time when there’s something else Underrated to talk about.