Images & Words – Casanova: Gula #1

[images & words is the comic book pick-of-the-week at OL. equal parts review and diatribe, the post highlights the most memorable/infuriating/entertaining book released that wednesday]

Reading an issue of Casanova reminds me of going to a sick house party. As much as you might mentally prepare yourself for celebratory bedlam, you don’t know just how fuggin’ insane it’ll be until you’re in the midst of it, far beyond the point of no return. Substances pummeling your brain, everything glows a little bit and you’re left asking some wonderful questions:

– Why does the girl with the Dream Theater shirt keep singing Raspberry Beret on karaoke?
Did that dude just pound a beer and smoke a cigarette at the same time?
– Who brought their grandpa? And why does he look so familiar?

Whether or not answers are ever delivered is immaterial. The wonder is in going through such a mindfugg, an experience that excites sensory perceptions and puts a smile on your face.

Matt Fraction and Fabio Moon’s newest issue of Casanova left me with a backpack full of questions. I’m narratively shell-shocked. But the book also gave me more sci-fi pop than I’ve had in quite some time.

When is Casanova Quinn? Also serving as the comic’s subtitle, this is the primary question at hand. The first few pages of this comic are dedicated to showing Casanova Quinn going about business-as-usual, which in this case means taking down the evil Dokkktor Klockhammer during an undercover operation. The hero walks out of the hospital he just set on fire, providing E.M.P.I.R.E. confirmation of success and reaffirming to the reader what a bad-ass he is. Oh, especially since he’s only wearing a johnny gown.

It then seems as though the story will continue following Casanova’s adventures but then he, uh, well…he just disappears. After seeing Quinn assigned another mission, the reader assumes that he’s the operative in ninja/siege gear that’s being chased through the woods by a kooky-ass spacecraft. But this figure is revealed to be Kaito Best: “Junior Agent, Casanova’s Sidekick. Crazy kung-fu.” What’s even more baffling is the fact that Kaito’s battle ends with his summoning of Cass’ residence+weapon combo:

Kleptomik or, depending on who says it, Cryptomech, the giant Japanese robot from World War II, where Casanova lives.

Confronting the blue alien-babe in the felled spacecraft, Kaito demands, “When is Casanova Quinn?” Which is hilarious, as this sentiment is echoed by both the reader and Sasa Lisi, as she makes the same inquiry.

The second half of this issue is invested in helping the reader put the pieces back together – not only do we need to figure out when Casanova Quinn is, but how he disappeared and why it matters in the first place. It turns out the nearly two years have passed since we saw Quinn take his last assignment, and Kaito Best is now the main fuggin’ spy-man!

Quinn’s father, both because of paternal instincts and responsibilities as E.M.P.I.R.E.’s director, asks Sasa Lisi why she cares about finding his son. She responds,

Because Casanova Quinn’s presence in the 919 is essential to the survival of the multiquintessence. Me? Because I’m madly in love with him. Or at least I will be…It’s everything, Director Quinn. It’s you, it’s me, everywhere and everywhen in every way. It’s what M.O.T.T. monitors, manipulates, protects and preserves.

Something is happening to it. It’s becoming undone, and Casanova is involved.

The book also features a subplot seeing Zephyr, Cassanova’s sister, becoming (romantically) involved with Kubark Benday and (professionally) involved with the terrorist organization run by his father. However, they want her to take on a mission of Xeno’s which involves murdering her father. Yikes.

I’m going to pause for a moment, read what I’ve put down, and get back at’cha. Hold on a second…


…Okay. Shit. I completely forgot to mention H-Element applications, the schematics of which are found on Klockhammer’s servers. These allow for crazy aircraft to be built. Eventually. But then, of course, this is the shit that timehoppin’ Lisi cruises in, further establishing her as an atemporal beaut.

I also neglected to mention just the uber-urbanity of Kubark Benday. He’s a terrorist and a hitman and an art thief, but with a Travis Touchdown fashion sense he’s hard not to like.

It’s also worth mentioning that Casanova‘s backmatter is always appreciated. In this edition, readers get a glimpse at correspondence between Fraction and Bryan Lee O’Malley. Amongst the (many) highlights is Fraction’s take on the new Kanye West album:

What does that guy have to say about anything these days? When you’ve got Das racist, OFWGKTA, and Curren$y fucking tearing shit up….who gives a fuck that you got Nicki Minaj to pretend to be British? What I dig about FANTASY is the coke-and-pussy opulence and decadence and…and it feels like, uh, like STATION TO STATION. Like that moment of cracking up was captured and put to tape. That record’s a fucking warning.


Once again, Fraction and Moon cram more ideas and art into a $3.99 comic than most creators fit into an entire trade paperback. The trick is being willing to not know, re-read, think you know, actually figure something out, and then realize there’s still a heapin’ that you missed.

As I said before, Casanova is the best house party you’ve never been to.