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‘High Fantasy is Dead,’ New Series Coda Explores What Happens Next

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
‘High Fantasy is Dead,’ New Series Coda Explores What Happens Next

Writer Simon Spurrier has gained a reputation in the comic book world as one of today’s most imaginative creators, from his trippy X-Men Legacy run that inspired FX’s Legion TV show to creator-owned works such as Angelic and Cry Havoc at Image Comics.

Last fall at New York Comic Con, it was teased that Spurrier would write a new series for BOOM! Studios — the home of his books The Spire, Godshape and Six-Gun Gorilla — titled Coda, which would be his take on “Tolkien-esque high fantasy.” No other details were announced at the time, but CBR now has all the pertinent info on the new series: Coda is a 12-issue series from Spurrier and artist Matías Bergara (artist of Image’s Cannibal) slated to debut in May. The first issue will have 40 pages of story at a $3.99 cover price, and a main cover by Bergara plus variants from Jae Lee and prior Spurrier collaborator Jeff Stokely.

Here’s the official description of the series, which tantalizingly includes the words “foul-tempered mutant unicorn”: “In the aftermath of an apocalypse which wiped out nearly all magic from a once-wondrous fantasy world, an antisocial former bard named Hum seeks a way to save the soul of his wife with nothing but a foul-tempered mutant unicorn and his wits to protect him…but is unwillingly drawn into a brutal power struggle which will decide forever who rules the weird wasteland.”

CBR spoke with Spurrier, Bergara and series editor Eric Harburn to learn more about Coda, and that foul-tempered mutant unicorn. One thing made clear by Spurrier is that though high fantasy was how the series was originally pitched, Coda looks to stray far from the genre’s familiar trappings. As he puts it: “High fantasy’s dead. Sorry about that. Coda‘s what happens the morning after the funeral.”

Coda #1 main cover by Matías Bergara.

CBR: Simon, when first teased back at NYCC, Coda was described as your take on “Tolkien-esque high fantasy.” How much fun have you had exploring that fairly specific genre — and presumably, diverting from it as you see fit?

Simon Spurrier: I’ve always intended to do something in the high fantasy mold sooner or later. But whenever I took a run at it I found my brain somehow bouncing off. To put it in uncharitable terms, I could feel this accumulated layer of clichés and overused ideas packed tightly around the whole genre, like six decades’ worth of blisters. Your average Scion Of Tolkien just takes itself so appalling seriously, and it sometimes felt like the only workaround was to do something snide and mean-spirited; a story that does nothing more than poke fun at the whole thing. Which, given how much joy fantasy’s given me over the years, simply felt too cruel — even for me.

In the end it struck me that the whole genre has a sort of literary RSI. Every time it gets let out of the stable to canter around that same well-trodden path, the injury just gets worse and worse.

So I decided the kindest approach was to take it outside and shoot it.

High fantasy’s dead. Sorry about that. Coda‘s what happens the morning after the funeral.

Turns out what happens is this: life goes on. People continue to be in love. People continue to struggle and feel and fight. They simply have to adjust to a world with an absence where previously there was something cherished or relied upon.

In Coda, that’s magic. Not so long ago this world was saturated in the stuff. Whole societies grew, functioned and warred as a result of it. And then — a crash. And now there’s barely any magic left. And everyone has to adjust fast.

What we’ve ended up with is a story that’s drenched in the sort of sadness you get whenever one world is transitioning into another — there’s a bit of the Wild West about it, in that respect — but it also seethes with energy and excitement. New frontiers, new ideas, new action, new opportunities. New ways of dealing with people who can only look backwards. And — yes — new reasons to laugh.

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