Written by: Matt Fraction & Michael Chabon
Art by: Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá
“Never tell them everything that you know.” – Amiel Boutique
Casanova: Acedia, the fourth volume of the Casanova series (the fourth of a planned number of seven) has been a loooooooooonnnggggg time coming. The last time we saw Casanova, at the end of Avaritia, it was June 20, 2012. Fraction knew that volume four was coming eventually, he just thought it would be out by the end of 2013. And published by Marvel, not Image (again).
So here we are, at the beginning of a new year, 2015, but still. I only bring up Casanova’s tumultuous history to illustrate a couple of points:
- The publishing history of Casanova and the actual crazy timeline history of Casanova Quinn are both convoluted, interesting, and mirror each other nicely. If anyone can pull off these meta shenanigans, it’s Fraction.
- Michael Chabon is writing the back-ups for volume 4. Michael Chabon! This was announced years ago also, but to actually come to fruition is another thing altogether. Chabon is a Pulitzer prize winning author, so if I were Fraction, Bá, Moon, or Image themselves, I would just explain away any delays with that fact. “Chabon! Pulitzer! Need time!” And that would be that.
- Fraction has been busy in the meantime, so any delays for Casanova have been understandable and we have had copious comics to keep us busy in the meantime: Hawkeye, Satellite Sam, Ody-C, Sex Criminals, and Fantastic Four/FF, just to name a few.
With all of that out of the way, how was this newest issue? In a word, it’s cool. In two words, it’s smart and cool. Fraction has always showcased the ability to create impossible situations for impossible characters, and yet somehow they’re also relatable and just cool. Casanova Quinn, or Quentin Cassiday as he’s known currently, is the epitome of super-spy coolness and debonair roguishness. Casanova is living in Hollywood at the opening of the issue, after what we’ve been told has been 3 years or so. He’s an enforcer/fixer/driver for a Hollywood big shot, though his employer’s past is just as murky as Casanova’s. Casanova states that “no memory of the past means no fear of the future. I couldn’t remember anything…so I couldn’t think of anything I’d lose.” It’s this type of vaguely philosophical musing that would sound hollow coming out of the mouth of most leads, but Casanova pulls it off because he comes from another dimension. A dimension where E.M.P.I.R.E. rules all and battles W.A.S.T.E. for dominance. Quinn/Cassiday has now ended up in Hollywood, California, in a dimension that seems a lot like our own. There is some organization called N.E.T.W.O.R.K. here, but we’re not positive what they do just yet. Boutique created the organization to find out more about himself, because like Quinn/Cassiday, he doesn’t remember his past either.
This was a great first issue and I’m ecstatic to be welcomed back into the Casanova universe after so many years away. Don’t expect to just jump in and know immediately what is going on, however. Like Boutique, Fraction knows not to tell us everything all at once. Along with Quinn, we have to stumble and follow false leads, hoping for any light to be shed on the story. In a twist on the “spies with amnesia” storyline, like the Jason Bourne series, we actually know exactly who Quinn is, but he does not. When the female at the party whispers his name, it means everything to the reader though it only jogs Quinn’s memory in the slightest. Fraction knows exactly what he is doing, and this is him at the top of his form: just the right amount of humor, tongue-in-cheek narration, frantic fight scenes (Moon is absolutely killing it), and quotes from obscure French poets. Apollinaire wrote the lines between Quinn and the woman at the party (“come to the edge“), but of course it’s just one more nugget amongst many that you can study more or bypass entirely and just know that it’s a fitting little poem stuck in the middle of your comic book. This arc’s title itself, like all of the Casanova collections, is a Latin word for one of the seven deadly sins, sloth in this case. One day there should be an annotated Casanova omnibus just for all of the tidbits like these (Matt—I’m just an email away).
I adored this issue and, whether you’ve read the entire Casanova opus or not, I think you’ll like it too. Having read the first three arcs makes for a much better reading experience though, and even rereading those arcs again before this issue is recommended. The much-hyped Chabon/Bá backup is interesting but that’s about all I can say for it thus far. At only 9 pages long, Chabon crams in a lot of exposition and snappy dialogue, but I’m pretty lost about where it’s heading. Hopefully issue two’s backup maintains the delivery style but adds in more “why.” At the end of the day, Casanova is still everything you remember about this series—it’s what all comics should aspire to be: fun, exciting, mysterious, smart, captivating, and visually arresting. What more could you want for $3.99?