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Coda (2023) #1
BOOM! Studios

Comic Books

‘Coda’ #1 begins the perfect sequel to Hum’s reluctant dystopian quest

Hum’s world is back in a way that enhances and deepens the despair, hope, and ridiculousness that was core to the first series.

The long-awaited return of Si Spurrier (Way of X, The Flash) and Matías Bergara’s (Step By Bloody Step, The Dreaming) Eisner award-winning comic series Coda is finally upon us, as Hum, Nag, and Serka venture forth on a violent and beautiful new adventure. Fans of Coda could not have been more excited when BOOM! Studios announced that a sequel to the apocalyptic fantasy series would be released this year, and Coda #1 lives up to all the hype and excitement. Although the first Coda series ended beautifully, Spurrier and Bergara have found a way to bring back Hum’s world in a way that does not lessen the original ending, instead enhancing and deepening the despair, hope, and ridiculousness that was core to the first series.

WARNING, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!

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The steampunk, Mad Max-style dystopian fantasy world that provides the backdrop for the various adventures in Coda is as much a character as Hum or Serka, beautifully growing and changing from issue to issue, mutating into a more poisonous version of itself day by day. Years ago, a massive war was fought between “Good and Evil,” a battle that ended with the vile Wihtlords wiping out almost all traces of magic, completely transforming the shape of Hum’s world, pushing it into an age of lawlessness and desperation.

Hum, a pessimistic and caustic former Bard, spent the first Coda series attempting to “save” his Urken wife Serka from her darker nature. While this ultimately failed, the married couple came out stronger, and more united than ever, by the end of the series, with a new moon in the sky and their world transformed once again.

Coda (2023) #1

BOOM! Studios

Coda #1, titled “False Dawns,” continues the original series narrative structure, having Hum writing out a story in a series of notebooks, an effective and deeply personal exercise in narration from Spurrier. While in the original series Hum was writing missives to his “lost” wife, in this sequel series the reluctant hero is writing to an anonymous new character named “Gap,” who is revealed (SPOILER!!!!) in the final pages to be Hum and Serka’s unborn child. Hum was always obsessively dedicated to Serka, willing to go to great and dangerous lengths to “save” her, and it is clear that he feels just as strongly about their child, hoping to bring them into a world of peace and tranquility.

Unfortunately, of course, Hum’s domestic life of farm living comes quickly crashing down around him, as a new prophesized “True King” is stirring up trouble in the land. This would-be King makes it incredibly personal for Hum, stealing his vicious and foul-mouthed Pentacorn (a mutated 5-horned unicorn, the last of it’s kind) Nag from his stable, forcing Hum to embark on a new adventure. Nag, an amazing bastardization of the classic fantasy creature, was one of the highlights of the first Coda series, and his corrosive temper and stunning design continues to delight.

Coda (2023) #1

BOOM! Studios

The first few issues of Coda depicted Hum’s wife Serka as a helpless kidnapped victim, before it was eventually revealed that she was in fact a member of the Urken race, who must go through periods of transformed rage due to how they were created by their first Wihtlord masters. Serka intense dedication to heroism and protecting innocent lives is on full display from the start of Coda #1, and her juxtaposition as a slightly monstrous but truly noble hero versus her husband’s… less than majestic heroism… is a joy to experience.

As always, Si Spurrier’s writing is honest, character-driven, and hilarious, carefully and successfully balancing the ridiculous humor of Hum’s deformed world with the truly tragic, and unflinchingly honest, circumstances that it’s inhabitants find themselves in. Spurrier manages to maintain Hum’s sarcastic, biting, and desperately hopeful attitude throughout all his narration and speech, an impressive ability when he spends so much time internally narrating as a 1st person observer. Giving more space to Serka’s story from the beginning of this sequel series was a wise move, weaving their tale into one about chosen family and forced destinies, that shackle their futures while giving hope to what could be for their child.

Coda (2023) #1

BOOM! Studios

Matías Bergara’s art for Coda #1 is as, if not somehow even more, gorgeous than Coda’s original series, continuing to build the rich and vibrant universe from which Hum and Serka spring forth. The coloring and shading is supreme, and Bergara captures facial expressions and action in such a uniquely grounded and realistic way, that even Hum’s world of post-magic wildness seems plausible. The fact that so much of Hum’s feelings of longing for peace, anger at personal injustice, and deep love can be so relatable while existing in such a strange universe is a major testament to Bergara’s skills as an artist. After working together on The Dreaming and Step By Bloody Step it is clear that Spurrier knows he can push at the bounds of imagination when crafting Coda’s world, and Bergara has continued to deliver, going above and beyond on every panel.

Personally, I absolutely adored the first Coda series, and while the world-shattering and heart-warming ending was a beautiful conclusion to Serka and Hum’s tale, I was always secretly hoping that more would come from Spurrier and Bergara. Thankfully, that time has come, and Coda #1 lives up to my expectations and more.

Unfortunately, the sequel series is less welcoming to new readers than BOOM! Studios might suggest. While casual readers will surely enjoy Spurrier’s brilliant writing and Bergara’s stunning illustration, there are key moments of character development from the first Coda series – particularly the marriage between Hum and Serka – and world-building elements that greatly enhance the reading of the new series. However, all that means is that fans of Coda #1 who don’t fully get everything that happens in this first issue just need to go and pick up the original 12 issues of Coda’s first series! I promise, it is worth it.

Coda #1 is already focusing in on all the things that made the original run of Coda so beloved: the fascinating world-building, the realistic and lovingly tense relationship between Hum and Serka, Matías Bergara’s gorgeous character design, and the shockingly grounded emotions that underscore the story. An unendingly delicious treat for the eyes, Bergara’s art draws the reader in immediately, and Si Spurrier’s decision to give Hum and Serka an unborn child was the perfect way to give the two heroes the hope, motivation, and tension they need to add meaning to the ridiculous world they find themselves in. Anyone who loved the first Coda series will undoubtedly enjoy this first issue to no end, and anyone who didn’t read the first series will be inspired to go back in read it after sampling just one page.

Coda (2023) #1
‘Coda’ #1 begins the perfect sequel to Hum’s reluctant dystopian quest
Coda #1
Coda #1 is already focusing in on all the things that made the original run of Coda so beloved... the fascinating world-building, the realistic and lovingly tense relationship between Hum and Serka, Bergara's gorgeous character design, and the shockingly grounded emotions that underscore the story. An unendingly delicious treat for the eyes, Bergara's art draws the reader in immediately, and Spurrier's decision to give Hum and Serka an unborn child was the perfect way to give the two heroes the hope, motivation, and tension they need to add meaning to the ridiculous world they find themselves in. Anyone who loved the first Coda series will undoubtedly enjoy this first issue to no end, and anyone who didn't read the first series will be inspired to go back in read it after sampling just one page. 
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Spurrier and Bergara found a way to build on the first series without diminishing it
The art remains as vibrant, funky, and expressive as ever
Giving Hum and Serka an unborn child adds the perfect amount of hope into the depressing landscape
Not as easy a jumping on point for new readers as BOOM! suggests
9.5
Great
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