Alex: Every Wednesday on Twitter, I pick a comics issue that caught my eye and do an illustrated thread of little observations and stuff I enjoyed about it. It’s called #oneweekonecomic, and I’m collating each thread into its own blog post.
This time out, we’re looking at Simon Spurrier/Matías Bergara’s CODA #9. Some spoilers (though I’ve tried to avoid anything major) after the cut.
The first part of the third (and, I believe, final) arc, this issue visits a lot of the same places as #1 – the itchy dragon corpse, Murkrone’s caravan. Which proves vital, because we need to remember details of that story for this one’s big reveal.
Reveals and all, this is an issue about peeling back lies. That’s reflected beautifully in Jim Campbell’s captions, with every untruth scored out, as our narrator comes to terms with his own unreliability.
Sometimes these captions are ruled-through the first time we see them. Others, they’re presented and then retracted. Look at the contrast between the large two panels – it helps the crossing-out feel like an active development.
This isn’t the only smart way that narrative captions are used in the issue. Hum being assaulted by a single word, an unavoidable intrusive thought, is painfully relatable.
Every Spurrier-written series is, on some level, a mystery story. There’s almost always an unseen pattern to the plotting, only visible when it’s all dredged up at the climax.
Bergara is the rare artist who can convey a tangible sense of scale in a few simple lines. Without any points of comparison, you can just feel how huge the subject of this panel is, right?
He’s also an interestingly unusual fantasy artist, because his most fantastical moments are so often tangled up in the grotesque. There’s rarely an ‘oh wow’ without an accompanying ‘oh, ew’.
My single favourite thing about Bergara is the way he (with credited assists from Michael Doig) colours pages. It’s not just gorgeous but often functional, doing a lot of the work that a heavier line might to separate planes of an image.
There’s also a thematic reading of the colouring here – picking out characters in red or green, colours from opposite sides of the colour wheel, shows that they’re not a single antagonistic force. It seems to imply this alliance might not last to the end of the story.
And while we’re in over-reach territory: there is really a lot of orb imagery in this issue. I can’t be sure this is intentional, but it feels like a primer, given the way the plot hinges on orb-shaped objects.
I’m a big fan of the design work on Coda‘s inside and back covers. It’s got a real aged storybook feel, but also: more Bergara art. Who are you to resist it, huh?
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