Conscience as a Bug and as a Feature in Coda 1

by Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

There’s little point in being nice to people unless the act of being kind itself brings you happiness. Rude people are not unhappy — not categorically, anyway — because they don’t care that they’re rude, and there’s an undeniable freedom in not caring. Having a conscience is arguably a bug as well as a feature, since it’s easier to achieve your goals if you don’t care about the people you hurt in your pursuit of them.

In Simon Spurrier and Matias Bergara’s Coda 1, former bard Hum is determined to rescue his wife from a clan of savage orc-like creatures at the cost of everything and everyone else; as the issue closes he’s willing to potentially sacrifice the population of an entire city if it gets him one step closer to her. But it’s clear that Hum’s selfishness can’t last, and Coda is poised to be a series about one man in a terrible situation learning to put others above himself.

The broad strokes may sound slightly derivative, but Spurrier and Bergara elevate the familiar elements of the story completely in this premiere issue by sweating the details when rendering the world of the Weird Wasteland.

Spurrier is a master worldbuilder, and in Coda he actually seems to be enjoying the world he created. There’s a sense of optimism that permeates the book in place of the barely concealed anger bubbling just beneath the surface of books like Angelic and Motherlands.

Credit also to Bergara’s art and Michael Doig, who assisted with colors. It’s controlled chaos, a looser, acid-colored riff on Richard William’s The Thief and the Cobbler. Bergara has the rare gift among comic book artists of comedic timing, and the issue’s sense of humor heightens the impact of its darker moments, rather than undermining them.

And the issue’s final image is pretty dark: a disfigured Ylf is strapped to a table while his body is harvested for precious magic Akker. But that Hum will eventually put the needs of others above his own is not in question, and it’s that optimism that has me excited to come back for more of what Spurrier and Bergara have planned.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

One comment on “Conscience as a Bug and as a Feature in Coda 1

  1. I found this unreadable. The colors are so faded and blended together that the images are too indistinct for me to comfortably read and the story itself left me completely disinterested. I tried five different times over the weekend and put it down each time.

    I was excited. I freaking love Si Spurrier. This felt almost double sized. And I couldn’t get into it at all. Am I the only one? The pages that you have on the site here look like spilled paint to me. I can barely find figures in it. It’s like a pink and green rorschach to me.

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