Reviewed By Katy Rex. I probably wouldn’t have picked up ‘Casanova: Acedia’ #1 on my own. My spy/intrigue quota is very well satisfied by titles like Velvet, but having picked it up, I’m probably not putting it down anytime soon.
WRITTEN BY: Matt Fraction
ART BY: Fabio Moon
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
RELEASE: January 28, 2015
Casanova Quinn now serves as a sort of loyal bodyguard and companion for a seriously Gatsby-like man who is named, without any winks to the fourth wall, Mr. Boutique. And as much as “reboot” is a dirty word in comics, this issue is almost a reboot of sorts. Quinn has completely lost his memory (which means he doesn’t have to try to figure out the time paradox that led him to living as his own evil twin), and although he still seems to be able to access his skills, he has the chance to be a completely different person. It’s less an opportunity and more of a necessity, since he doesn’t seem to have a choice in the matter of his memory.
This issue has two narrators, Quinn and another unknown and omniscient narrator, distinguished by their lettering styles courtesy of Dustin K. Harbin. The new story follows Quinn’s character, now going by Quentin Cassidy, in his new life. He’s been living as a majordomo for 2-3 years, but the omniscient narrator tells us that in that time, even as he lives his new life, he’s constantly alert for some hint about his past. When Quinn flashes back, in the course of his narration, to the not-explicitly-stated duties he performs for Boutique, the panel layout makes that flash as abrupt as a memory, and the washed out palette of those brief panels set them in the past. The dynamic between Cassidy/Quinn and Boutique is weirdly relatable even for someone who has never been a bodyguard and hitman for an older and possibly spy affiliated Gatsby, but it’s a little hard to believe that they know so little about each other. If Quinn’s spy training is still present enough for him to perform menial tasks like murder and chauffeuring, why isn’t it present enough for him to instinctually dig up background information on Boutique?
Because of the weird Gatsby party vibe, it’s crucial for Moon’s art to straddle 1920’s decadence and slightly more modern spy grit, which he accomplishes by meeting somewhere in the middle– there’s a very 60’s feel to a lot of the textures, implying that Quinn is very much a man out of time in golden Hollywood. New readers might not know what to make of that, since it’s not actually explained in this issue that his memory loss is a result of a crash, and that the thing he crashed was a time machine. Hopefully future issues will give the readers more explanations as Quinn gets some answers himself. The art and backdrop sets this up as even more quintessentially spy-movie-esque, and the brash lines making the characters feel angular makes it difficult to get too comfortable with the sensuous scenes.
As if that isn’t enough, Gabriel Ba (co-creator of the series) is back, drawing a short piece by none other than Michael Chabon (Wonder Boys). Chabon is famous for his heavily comic-influenced prose, and in this book he inaugurates his ongoing mini that will live in the Casanova back pages, The Metanauts. Prose authors can’t always adapt to comic scripting, but Chabon manages it seamlessly, weaving a strange story about an overnight celebrity with possibly-nonhuman genitals, a wry sense of humor, and a way with a bass. Because of Ba and Moon’s history collaborating and trading off on the art, Ba’s accompanying art with this Chabon short is consistent with the book overall and still brings something fresh to the Metanaut story. The bodies are more evocative and less about anatomically accurate representation, which brings the music scene being portrayed to life.