Comics have never been bigger: with Marvel TV shows, DC movies, and indie adaptations growing by the day, comic books have never been more prominent in pop culture. This biweekly Verge column recommends comic series new and old, whether you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer.
With most mainstream comics today tending to skew more toward sci-fi superheroes, Boom Studio’s Coda is a perfect gateway for those who prefer swords and sorcery — set in a magical post-apocalypse with some of the best comic art around.
What is it? Coda is a 12-issue fantasy comic set in a desolate apocalypse after a gigantic, magical war between the forces of good and evil that cost the world most of its magic. Think Mad Max: Fury Road if it happened after the final battle in Lord of the Rings, with magical power instead of water as the scarce resource that everyone is fighting for.
Coda is as much a story about a husband and wife figuring out their complicated marriage as it is a soaring fantasy epic. The story focuses on a bard, Hum, who’s traveling with his mutant pentacorn (a unicorn with five horns), the Nag, as he tries to save his wife from the threat of the remaining Urken (Coda’s version of orcs).
Despite the initial premise, as in real life, things aren’t as clear-cut as Hum would like them to be: his wife, Serka, is no damsel in distress, and Hum’s perspective on their relationship doesn’t tell close to the whole story. Hum’s journey quickly spirals out of control. Despite his reluctance to get involved in anything (he frequently reminds others that he’s retired), his quest gets interlinked with the fate of whatever’s left of the world.
Adding to everything is the absolutely gorgeous artwork. Coda is fond of gigantic, jam-packed spreads crammed full of detail, rendering Hum and Serka’s world with soft colors, harsh lines, and neon-soaked highlights. Story aside, it’s worth a look just for the art alone.
Who is it by? Coda is written by Simon Spurrier, who’s also worked on Star Wars: Doctor Aphra and a variety of Marvel comics (most recently Way of X, a fantastic look at the Krakoan X-Men’s age of immortality that just came out). Artwork is by Matias Bergara, a frequent Spurrier collaborator, with colors by Michael Doig.