Casanova #1-7

[10 April 2007]

By Greg Oleksiuk

This comic will break your brain.  Really, it will.  This is crazy science fiction meets spy-adventure novel at its best.  The crazier part is that this is only the beginning and there are six more story “albums” as Mr. Fraction calls them, to produce.  Things can only get weirder and harder to understand (in a good way) from here.  Not only that, but while this comic will break your brain, it won’t break your wallet, as an issue costs only two bucks.

Matt Fraction and Gabriel Bá have crafted one of the most entertaining and certainly one of the best new comics to come out of last year.  In sixteen pages of story they cram more twists, turns and kooky sci-fi adventure than most comics do in a six issue story-arc.  When this title started, it followed the model that Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith began with Fell—stand-alone issues told in sixteen pages.  However, as the series progressed, multi-issue arcs came and it soon became obvious that there was an overall story going on.

The plot for Casanova gets so twisted and gloriously confusing, that I dare not try and explain it here, simply because I’m not sure I understand it fully.  That, however, does not stop me from enjoying this book.  In fact, it makes me enjoy it more as I am in awe of the complexity with which Matt Fraction has created these tales of a super-spy.  There are even plenty of homages and nods here and there to other comic books, sci-fi flicks, James Bond stories and other pop culture tidbits.  Fraction and Bá know their stuff, and are not afraid to use it to the reader’s amusement.  Needless to say, this is a comic one should read several times to enjoy fully its complexity.

Bá‘s art style is very interesting, particularly the fact that his artwork is colored with green shading and nothing else, making it one of the most original looking comics out there.  It has even been said that each new “album” will have a different color-scheme which will reflect the theme of that said “album”.  The artwork is slightly surreal and leans towards Mike Mignola influences, which only adds to the coolness factor of this comic.

And that’s one of the big things about Casanova—it is just a cool book.  From the writing, to the artwork, to the unique coloring, this book screams that it is different and people should take notice.  The other good thing is that while it is a sci-fi, spy adventure, it still has some superhero elements to it, including a giant head-creature reminiscent of Marvel Comics’ character M.O.R.D.U.K. and such things as infinite alternate dimensions.  It has something for everyone, whether you are a regular reader of comic books or someone who is just trying it out for the first time (granted, the regular comic reader may get a little bit more out of the series, however as previously stated, its many references are not exclusive to comic books).

It is no surprise that Matt Fraction has become one of the best new writers at Marvel Comics, writing Frank Castle’s return to the Marvel Universe in The Punisher War Journal and making kung-fu cool again along with co-writer Ed Brubaker in The Immortal Iron Fist.  His style and knowledge of pop culture is what allows him to craft such enjoyable and re-readable stories.  Gabriel Bá‘s style is a perfect fit to the zany stories and adds to the appeal of the title.

Casanova gets my vote for best new series of 2006.  Matt Fraction and Gabriel Bá have crafted an amazing and immersive tale of intrigue, spies and multiple dimensions.  It goes without saying that you may not want to read this while under any reality-inducing substances ... or maybe you do.  Either way, it will blow your mind, break your brain or just leave you with a stupid grin saying: “That was cool.”

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/casanova-1-7/