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Comic Book Review: ‘Casanova Acedia’ #1 – A Welcome Return Of The Strange Spy Series

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.

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WRITTEN BY: Matt Fraction

ART BY: Fabio Moon

PUBLISHER: Image Comics

PRICE: $3.99

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.

yoyos2Katy Rex writes comics analysis at endoftheuniversecomics.comcomicsbulletin.com, and bloody-disgusting.com. She also writes scholarly articles for various academic journals. She really likes butt jokes, dinosaurs, and killing psychos and midgets in Borderlands 2. She has a great sense of humor if you’re not an asshole.
Twitter: @eotucomics
Instagram: @katy_rex

 

 

 

 



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COMMENTS

3 Comments
  • Rodrigo Monterrey

    hi, katy. great review. i’m a fan of the casanova series since it first came out on image in duo-tone. (and not a huge fan of the 3rd arc, which came out in full-color from icon, to be honest). but i just wanted to mention that the premise of acedia and the whole “confidential report” on mr. boutique is taken from orson welles’s “mr. arkadin.” not that i think there’s anything wrong with that–in fact, it’s those little nods and references to anything from obscure films to louboutins (or “asa nisi masa” and paco rabanne) that give this series its hipper-than-thou, egg-hunt pizazz. here, to your point about maybe giving new readers a better idea of who casanova is as he himself discovers it, i think the arkadin premise is a brilliant solution. also–mr boutique is an already-alluded-to character from the second arc (gula). so perhaps neither one knows that they are somehow connected to each other, which only ups the stakes. looking fwd to it.

    • tom0613

      I noticed the resemblance to “Mr. Arkadin” too, but do we actually know that [Casanova author] Matt Fraction was referencing it? Any actual evidence that he didn’t independently come up with this plot point? I’d say that Fraction is clearly creative (and weird) enough to dream up something like this: “older man claims amnesia, employs younger man to investigate his own (the older man’s) past” is not one of those plots that’s been done thousands of times, but if one writer thought of it, couldn’t another do so as well?

      As of Issue 2, I’d say it’s not yet clear whether Mr. Boutique is lying about having amnesia (as Mr. Arkadin was).

      I also *suspected* that Fraction, shall we say, derived some inspiration from Welles’ film … but do we *know* that he did?

      • Rodrigo Monterrey

        well, i haven’t asked him…and i don’t expect this story arc will be a straightup copy of mr. arkadin, but i’d be willing to bet that, yes, fraction is deliberately referencing the welles film–if only because it’s consistent with the obscure-pop-culture mashup that is casanova. “asa nisi masa” and the underground film club from the 2nd arc are also film references (the first from fellini’s 8 1/2, which is not so obscure, but still). and also from arc 2 is the story of mr boutique’s adopted daughter, which is a reference to the origin story of modesty blaise, with a little bit of marlene dietrich thrown in. this is not to take away from fraction’s creativity–i’m a huge fan. these are just little easter-egg clues and references he uses in casanova. the characters’ names are all references, too. starting with casanova and cornelius quinn (michael moorcock). these things are intentional–i don’t think he’s trying to pass any of this stuff as his own…they only adds to the enjoyment in my book.

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