In which Mike reviews the first issue of a new comic.
Casanova started in 2006 as an Image comics release by Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon before it moved to Marvel Icon in 2011. The book returned to its original home at Image with its newest arc, Casanova Acedia published this week. Thankfully the new storyline is designed to bring new readers in, even though there have been 18 issues prior. In fact, I had no idea this was an ongoing story until after I finished the issue. Maybe if I’d been a long-time fan there would be little nods I would understand, but dear Filterinos, I was confused and amiably along for the ride. Fraction and Moon don’t really give a shit if you’re an old fan or new, they’ve got a story to tell and everyone involved is in the dark.
The story begins with Casanova, here called Quentin Cassiday, working as a body man for a rich old weirdo. Generally, a body man is somewhere between bodyguard, butler, and pal–good looking muscle with a sense of humor that you’d want to share a drink with. And Cassiday plays his role perfectly we learn, mostly because he doesn’t have a past. One day he woke up in Hollywood (and suddenly the first few panels of a man drenched in sweat wearing a spacesuit wandering the LA hills makes sense… sort of. The book throws mysteries on mysteries: why can’t Cassiday remember who he is? Why does some sexy broad at the party call him Casanova? Why does she get naked on a diving board, and then try to kill him? Who is the old man (who also has no memory of the past)? Who are the occultists who claim there are only ten days left on Earth?
The plot-driver here is going to be Cassiday investigating the old man and the old man investigating Cassiday. Both men have a hidden past they wish to uncover, and decide to research, discover, and dig into the other. My main issue with the book is the issue itself. While it left me with questions, its claws didn’t dig into me to make me want to read future entries. I’m not hanging on the edge of my seat until the next issue comes out in a month, instead I’m sure I’ll remember the book and think, “oh yeah… I wonder what happenedâ€ And then something else will probably distract me. Now if it came out as a trade, or a graphic novel, they’d have a great story here. The intrigue and amorality and weird universe that are created are unique and oh so Fraction-y. But the issue is a hard beast to domesticate, and not all stories have built-in commercial breaks that lend themselves to the episodic format. There was a weird imbalance of doing too much and not doing enough at the same time, or maybe it’s just that the issue did the wrong things. Not all of the time, but enough for the rhythms of the book to feel slightly off. If the story was a bit muddy, the art doubled down, painting a muted-colored, wobbly-lined world that was gorgeous to look at but didn’t a necessarily aid in figuring out what the fuck was happening. Maybe it’s a simple opinion, but if the story is muddy at times, make the art clear and vice versa. I mean, not always vice the versa, but if you must.
Endnote: The back-up story, The Metanauts, is by Michael Chabon (!) is about a douche rock journalist and a mysterious all girl band, which apparently takes place n the same world as Casanova. It’s amusing and odd and far too short.
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