Story: Matt Fraction
Art: Fábio Moon
Colors: Cris Peter
Letters: Dustin Harbin
Publisher: Image Comics
HARK! A new volume of Casanova has begun – the first since 2012 – and with it comes the promise of another harrowing adventure steeped in espionage, intrigue, and boobies from writer Matt Fraction and artist Fábio Moon.
Casanova Quinn (Quentin Cassiday) has been kicking around the comics world since 2006, when he hit the scene as a freelance jack-of-all-trades for any discerning client and/or worldwide spy organization. Since then he has been gainfully employed across timelines and dimensions, doing various jobs for his father’s E.M.P.I.R.E., as well as other things I’m not exactly equipped to explain because come on, this timeline is nuts.
At the beginning of this iteration, Cass is a man with no past and nothing to lose. A stroke of luck finds him employed with an older man in a similar position – acute amnesia. The rest of the story unfolds accordingly, as they hatch a plan to find out all they can about each other. For all of its separation from previous issues, this installment still finds itself planted firmly in the footing of its predecessors. The years since the last volume have apparently had no effect on the creative team, who continue to crank out work that blends seamlessly with the universe they’ve created, while also maintaining enough distance for the new story to grow.
In Acedia #1, the gorgeous pages by Moon come to the forefront of the story immediately. Cass is deranged, covered in blood and stumbling through the streets of Hollywood, California. Lit up in blues and oranges by colorist Cris Peter, this balance of warm and cool colors remains throughout the story, creating a surreal reading experience, and evoking a surprising breadth of moods.
Moon’s art is singular, blending thick and chunky linework into thin silhouettes and shapes that somehow remain elegant and defined, rather than bulky and dull. His style vacillates between great economy of line and incredible detail – always unafraid of using thick swathes of black ink wherever he deems appropriate, and to great success. The backgrounds are natural, replete with the imperfect lines that suggest the absence of a ruler, and perfectly matched to the figures in the foreground.
Character designs remain on point, especially those of the “Grey Men.” A garish pairing of geometric head-pieces and pinstripe suits, the pages with these figures stand out as some of the best in the issue. The fight between Cass and these characters is fast-paced, dynamic, and unforgiving. Rounding out the story is the final panel – an amalgamation of everything listed above. Copious black, varied line widths, and dry brush work together to create an ominous display of what’s to come.
As far as the writing goes, Fraction uses the bulk of the pages to set up the story between Cass and his employer. There are still all the trappings of a Casanova comic – dry humor, sexy encounters, ill-advised “plays on words,” etc. – and they work as well as ever. A quote by French poet Guillame Apollinaire adds some literary levity to an otherwise straight-forward scene. So, you know, classic Fraction.
Making Acedia even more of a winner, though, is the back-up story featured at the end of the issue. Written by Michael Chabon and drawn by Gabriel Bá, The Metanauts promises to be the perfect accompaniment to its sister-story. Using the same outline as the main storyline, this short features characters both new and old, including a delightfully cynical rock journalist to whom every band is “a bunch of trumped-up corporate bullshit.”
Casanova continues to carve out its path in the comics world, holding steady to the formula that the creative team has been employing for years. “The rules are simple. The gun is always loaded. The safety is always off. The fucker always fires.”