Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Casanova Vol. 1: Luxuria

Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Gabriel Bá

Back in 2006, when Casanova was first published by Image, I'd not heard of Matt Fraction (actually, I think I'd heard of Last of the Independents, but hadn't read it yet), or Gabriel Bá.  My interest in the book was purely economical - it was published in the same 'slimline' format as the brilliant Fell, and cost less than other books on the stand.  Add to that the fact that it had a very nice cover, and I thought I'd give it a try.

That first issue blew me away.  I was hooked by the frenetic, totally unpredictable writing, and loved Bá's minimalist art.  In sixteen pages, these guys packed in more story than Brian Michael Bendis can with a six-issue arc.  And man, was it good.

Basically, Casanova Quinn is a thief and scoundrel who gets lifted out of his home dimension by Newman Xeno, the leader of the criminal organization WASTE (acronyms are important here).  Now he is to take the place of this new world's good Casanova, meaning that he is the favourite child of his father, the director of EMPIRE (picture SHIELD, but more powerful).  Cass is working as a double agent for Newman, and trying to run his own gig through insane mission that involve an orgone-saturated town, sex robots, a meditating performance artist, an extra-dimensional island populated with doctorate-level savages, and more triple-agents than you can ever expect.

Fraction fills each page with insane ideas, and Bá more than rises to any challenge he gives him.  Since this comic originally came out, Marvel has had it re-coloured and re-printed in this new edition.  The third volume, which is of all new material, begins publication next week as a four-issue monthly, so I figured it was time to reread this series and get myself caught back up in the twisted world of the Quinn family.  I'm really glad I did, as I'd forgotten how great it is.

I would easily point to this book as Matt Fraction's best, and hope that even a small portion (I didn't want to use the word 'fraction') of the people who are reading and perhaps even enjoying Fear Itself, The Mighty Thor, or Invincible Iron Man (the only thing on this list that is good) give this series a shot.  As good as Bá is on this book, it of course does not compare to his more recent work, such as Daytrippers.

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