by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
I think it’s fair to say that Coda is set in a particularly fantastical world. Beyond the trappings of magical beings and beasts, the characters themselves recognize that they’re in a kind of mythical world that almost fetishizes heroic virtues of bravery and self-sacrifice. Which makes the cowardly pragmatism of our protagonist a distinguishing characteristic. He’s not an idealist willing to die in the battle against evil — he’s just a guy who wants to settle down for a quiet life with his wife somewhere. In pulling away from heroism, Hum forces us to reexamine the assumptions we have about what it means to be a hero, and what it means to not be one. It’s a subject Simon Spurrier and Matías Bergara have been playing with since the first issue, but one that comes to the fore in issue 6, as Hum argues his position with Serka.
Basically, Serka is committed to slaying the Whitlord, no matter the cost to herself, but Hum is arguing that setting their sights lower is more pragmatic. Serka accuses him of just wanting to treat the symptoms of a larger problem. That’s when Spurrier and Bergara hit us with this exchange:
It’s a debate that is weighing on my mind particularly in the run-up to the midterm elections here in the US, but it resonates much more broadly than that. Fascinatingly, Spurrier builds the debate rather evenly, such that I feel both Hum and Serka’s positions have merits and weaknesses. On the one hand, Hum’s attitude is undeniably selfish, leaving others to twist in the wind for fear of his own neck. On the other hand, Serka’s approach seems reckless, prizing the bravery of a flame-out failure over something smaller that might actually have a positive, lasting impact. But where’s the compromise between those two positions? Doesn’t charging in undermine the merits of waiting? Doesn’t waiting undermine the merits of charging in? I mean, I get that “do Serka’s thing, but slowly” is the reasonable compromise here, but how slowly is too slowly? And whose safety are we prioritizing when we prioritize slow stability over rapid change?
Like I said, this debate is ongoing in my mind, so I may be projecting quite a bit onto this issue, but I’m impressed at how neutrally Spurrier plays the disagreement. Neither character is obviously more right or more moral — they simply have different priorities that don’t seem mutually compatible. I think they’ll figure it out, but then again, I still kind of think Hum and Notch are going to get together by the end of this series, so who knows?
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?