- Posted by Johanna on August 10, 2007 at 6:58 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: written by Matt Fraction; art by Gabriel BÃƒÂ¡
- PUBLISHER: Image Comics; $24.99 US
Casanova: Luxuria collects the first run (#1-7) of the mind-blowing spy series written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Gabriel Bá. In addition to the stories, the hardcover also contains information on how Bá designed the look of the comic. It’s got a distinctive black, white, and olive green color scheme that somehow makes it more detailed than a full color book.
The stories are a crazy 60s-style blend of spy caper, science fiction, and swinging sex-driven man about town influenced by Michael Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius, the work of Steranko, and Phil Spector’s wall of sound translated into comics. It’s a thrill ride that engages the brain as well as the gut (and a few other organs; the title is Latin for “lust”). Half the time, I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s a good confusion, the kind that results from manic ideas thrown densely at the page and expressed through detailed, atmospheric art.
Casanova Quinn is a freelance superspy. His daddy runs EMPIRE, the international task force of “good guys”, and his sister Zephyr is an equally talented (and even more crazed) agent on the other side. Casanova’s missions include things like kidnapping a sex-crazed blonde robot and pretending to be an alternate-universe version of himself. There are gadgets and double-crosses and action galore as Casanova engages in seducing nurses, grave-robbing, and high-stakes gambling, among other useful skills.
Fraction’s love of language can be seen in the amazing names he gives everyone and everything, such as bad guys named Fabula Berserko and Newman Xeno. Fraction’s also playing with the self-aware audience. As his hero jumps out of a helicopter with guns instead of a parachute, instead of saying something smart, he narrates how he should be saying something smart. And it still works for the character — Casanova’s “cut through the crap” attitude helps out the reader in summarizing key points.
As the stories progress, Casanova seems more like a rider in his own life. With so much going on, it’s hard to keep up, but that makes him even easier for the reader to relate to. The themes are basic, even obvious: family relations (especially the father/son conflict), sex, drugs, pain, pleasure, death. For escapist adventure, it’s awfully thought-provoking. It’s both about and provides altered consciousness.