Review: Casanova Volume 1
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Gabriel Bá
Review by John Anderson
What is it about?
Super-cool super-thief Casanova Quinn fights and steals his way across multiple universes in "globetrotting espionage sex adventures of violent intrigue."
Why is it good?
What, the proceeding paragraph wasn't enough for you? Alright: Casanova works for E.M.P.I.R.E., a task force maintaining order across the globe, headed by his father, Cornelius. Like any rebellious child, Casanova is having fun messing up his father's plans - but when the criminal mastermind Newman Xeno kidnaps the Casanova from another timeline to replace the Casanova that died in this timeline, then recruits this Casanova as a double agent, things start to get weird.
How weird? For example, Casanova defeats the three-faced monster monk Fabula Berzerko and steals his body. E.M.P.I.R.E. installs the brain of sexbot Ruby Seychelle into the body, and now Ruby Berzerko, sporting a wig and lipstick, works for E.M.P.I.R.E. as a strategist.
Other missions include liberating sexbots in a town powered by orgone, kidnapping God, and stopping a Japanese nuclear-powered robot. The plots are complicated, with the competing organizations having their own agendas and Casanova trying to subvert them all. For every mission E.M.P.I.R.E. gives Casanova, Newman Xeno gives him a counter-mission. Plus, Casanova's amoral sister Zephyr also works for Xeno, and the two often go on missions together, but with different aims.
In case it wasn't obvious, the name of Casanova's father gives the game away: Casanova owes a huge debt to Jerry Cornelius, the dimension-hopping agent of chaos created by Michael Moorcock in the late sixties for novels such as The Final Programme and The Condition of Muzak. If you enjoy the Jerry Cornelius books you will love Casanova: it has the same rapidly moving narrative, and a sense that the characters, and the narrative itself, are in flux. Casanova's antagonistic relationship with his father and sister, and his need to protect his mother from his father, can also be seen as nods to Jerry Cornelius's messed up family.
This new edition of Casanova: Luxuria has been completely recoloured and relettered. The first edition was printed in only two colours - black and green - to make it look like "a comic from another time," as Bá says in the afterword. This new version uses a limited palette of just 45 colours in order to preserve that feeling. The recolouring is very well done. Green is still the prominent colour, with yellow and red used to good effect. On the other hand, the new lettering is smaller and some speech bubbles have been moved around. I'm not sure why it needed to be relettered at all. But it doesn't detract from the story.
The action is fast-paced, the characters are sexy, the dialogue is witty, the stakes are high: Casanova is for YOU.
You can find Casanova in store at The Beguiling, or you can buy it online at beguiling.com.