Thursday, November 27, 2014

Comic Review: Casanova Volume One

Review by Joe David Thompson
I was cruisin' Comixology last week, looking for interesting new releases to review, when I stumbled across something for which I blew my weekly comic budget in one fell swoop: the first volume of Casanova, Luxuria, collected in what's called a "complete edition," and there was no stopping me.

If that sounds like the ravings of a madman, let me explain.  Casanova first dropped in the summer of 2006 on Image Comics before the title moved to Marvel's Icon imprint in 2011.  Since picking up the first issue, I've purchased both the print and digital singles, and now I've gone and done it again. 

Casanova is a psychedelic, spy, and science fiction comic from the mind of Matt Fraction, writer of Hawkeye and Sex Criminals, and illustrated by the extraordinary talents of Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon.  Casanova Quinn, the star of the book, is the much maligned son of the leader of one of the world's most powerful espionage groups.  Quinn is soon drawn into a plot that finds him kidnapped across timelines and other dimensions, where he must claim to be something he's not: a super spy.

Fraction infuses this book with dynamite pacing, smart humor, and a pop sensibility that keeps readers on their toes.  He's clearly having fun writing this book and that feeling practically leaps off the pages.  Fraction plays around with the cool spy tropes and atmospheres of the sixties, for which he seems to have an affection.  Gabriel Ba (The Umbrella Academy, De:Tales) turns in art that is fluid, sexy, and just plain gorgeous.  Ba captures the playful tone of the book masterfully.  I've been a fan of Ba's art for a while now, something I credit to his work on this book. 

For all its spectacle, Casanova has a lot of heart driving the book.  A shocking death forces Quinn to take stock of who he is and what motivates him to do the things he does.  We see a man trying to define himself beyond, and in spite of, the excesses he seems to enjoy.  Eventually, Quinn must confront the questions we all do: when are we going to grow up?  How long are we going to let other influences control our life?  And what does this look like?  Fraction has always been good at pulling the human drama out of whatever fantastic circumstances his books may be set.  And, after reading through the honest commentaries in the back matter, we see just how personal Casanova is for him as an artist. 

This complete edition includes all that back matter, Ba's covers, a deeper look at Casanova's color palette and lettering style, among other assorted goodies.  If you're a Casanova junkie like me or just love the spy or science fiction genres, Casanova is the perfect book to take you away from the family fights and the same old turkey dinner.
Joe David Thompson has been doing media reviews for websites such as Red Carpet Crash and the 405 Music Blog. For any questions or comments for Joe David Thompson, you can email him and follow him on twitter @jovid52