Readers of The Lost Art

Casanova vol. 1: Luxuria

April 20th, 2009

Casanova vol. 1: Luxuria

Casanova vol. 1: Luxuria

Writer:  Matt Fraction

Artist: Gabriel Ba

Reviewer: Aaron


Casanova follows the exploits of adventurer Casanova Quinn as he deals, and double-deals, with the forces of E.M.P.I.R.E, a super-secret, world-spanning spy operation run by his father, and W.A.S.T.E, a super-secret, worlds-spanning organisation run by Mummy look-alike Newman Xeno and his sidekick, an alternate universe version of Casanova’s sister, Zephyr Quinn. The story starts with Casanova being ripped out of his own timeline by Xeno so that he can infiltrate and co-opt E.M.P.I.R.E. for Xeno’s own nefarious plans. Or something. 

This, however, is not what Casanova is about. Casanova is about throwing as many insane science-fiction ideas and cultural references at the audience as is possible in a sixteen-page comic book and still make a modicum of sense. Something that writer Matt Fraction just about manages to do, as he guides us somewhat haphazardly through the world(s) of Casanova Quinn and his Freudian nightmare of a family, showing us along the way an island home to the most sophisticated savages outside of Paris, an island that has been high on Orgone (look it up) for longer than is strictly healthy, and nymphomaniac sexbots. Also, he hits God in the head. In fact the only things from most geeks’ wish-lists not present and correct in this deceptively slim volume are ninja-robots with jet packs and a gorilla in a tuxedo, but since Fraction covered those in Rex Mantooth (also available from your local library), I think he can be forgiven on this occasion.

The stylised art by Gabriel Ba is brilliantly rendered throughout, creating a unique world in which even the most bizarre imagining of Fraction’s seems grounded in its own, admittedly twisted, reality. This is greatly helped by the limited colour palette employed, preventing the art, and therefore the whole damn comic, from making the leap from frenetic to simply indecipherable. Not as simple a task as you might imagine.

When it comes to describing the plotting, the word is Dense. There is not a lot of slack in the issues contained within this volume and the whirlwind of plot, ideas, nudity and people striking poses for no better reason than it looks kinda cool can be somewhat disorientating, and leave the reader with a feeling not entirely dissimilar from trying to watch a David Lynch film after downing a vat of peyote-laced absinthe. But in a good way. Honest. I’d like to say that this feeling eventually goes away, to be replaced with a pleasant, warm and fuzzy feeling of clarity and understanding, but with this comic it’s very definitely a case of, as Hunter S. Thompson once said, “Buy a ticket, take a ride”. Yes indeedy.

Casanova is currently on hiatus, with Matt Fraction currently writing about a third of everything Marvel is putting out at the minute and Gabriel Ba caught up in the latest run of Umbrella Academy, though thankfully both men have stated their intentions to get back to it as and when their schedules allow. So for now we are left with two volumes of insane gloriousness to relish, with the prospect of volumes 3-7 at some point in the future. Here’s hoping they hurry.

Hardcover: 144 pages

Publisher: Image Comics; illustrated edition edition (7 Mar 2007)

ISBN-10: 1582406898

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