Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Casanova #1 - A Review, Baby

In the first issue of Casanova, world class super thief Casanova Quinn steals a sexbot, fights his super spy father at his super spy sister’s funeral, sleeps with a nurse while huffing space gas, fights a big mutant brain in psychic combat aboard the recreational supermechanix helicasino, leaps to his own death while shooting bullets at a UFO, visits an alternate reality, and beats a mutated brain half to death.

If that doesn’t excite you, then I think it’s time we had a talk about our relationship.

As you may have gathered, Casanova is a completely insane comic book. Written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Gabriel Ba in 2006, before they hit the big time, it still might be the most enjoyable thing that either of them has been involved with. And considering their output since this was first published, that’s saying something.

Between Fraction’s sharp dialogue, (“Whatever- He’s an arrogant special effect and I’m gonna fuck him up for money.”) and Ba’s gorgeous artwork, every page of this book is alive with crazy ideas and crackling with crazy, creative energy. Take just one look at the list I wrote a few paragraphs ago. That all takes place in sixteen pages! More happens in sixteen pages of this book than some 8 issue crossovers!

The pace is frenetic and the ideas are completely off the wall, but from front to back, this book is fun. Its James Bond meets Howard Chaykin meets the Prisoner on speed.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed by my constant use of the past tense, this is not the first time this book has been published. Image initially published it in 2006, right about when Fraction started getting work at Marvel. Now, it’s getting a bit more of a push as Marvel’s ICON imprint republishes the two initial story arcs (Luxuria and Gula) in a condensed format (for instance, the original issues 2 & 3 will make up issue 2 of the ICON series) until they are prepared to proceed with the third story arc.

Unfortunately, this matters little to most of you, as this book was not nearly as widely read as it should have been. For those of us who did read it the first time around, along with our smug sense of superiority, we have plenty of reasons to come back to this book. In the first place, it has an amazing recoloring job by Cris Peter. Originally, Casanova was published in a 3 color format that really made it look unique. Now, it uses a full pallet, but Peter deserves a lot of credit for using a full range of color to make Ba’s art pop, while still retaining the dominant green color scheme that made the book look so unique in the first place.

In addition to that, Fraction gives us a new 7 page story with Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba’s brother and collaborator on the excellent Vertigo series Daytripper. The story elaborates on the story of the nurse we meet in this issue and does a fantastic job of giving real depth to a character we knew for about 2 pages. And topping all that off are 3 pages of text from Fraction sharing some of the works that influenced Casanova.

Basically, Casanova is the jam. All the cool kids are reading it. Why aren’t you?

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