If you type “Casanova” into Twitter, you’ll find endless testimonials for Matt Fraction, Gabriel Moon and Fabio Ba’s series coming from people like Warren Ellis, Ed Brubaker, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Laura Hudson and OTHERS. The series, which reads like an amphetamine-enhanced update of the James Bond/Blade Runner template, sees lead character Casanova Quinn run about through parallel universes, blowing them up or something. In the meantime, he also goes around shooting people who’re dressed up in bandages, having sex with green women, and showing off his flaccid penis as often as possible.
This is the most indie of comics. After reading the first five pages, the most immediate thought is that this comic is going to be massively enjoyable, if not running high on comprehensibility. While reading the next section, the niggling doubt starts to seep in that nothing you’re reading makes any sense, or was ever designed to. The finale is incomprehensible.
But, y’know, maybe that’s my fault for trying volume three without making any effort whatsoever to learn what the series was about, or what had happened previously.
Avaritia is a bizarre sort of comic, and perhaps fans of the series will have a better grasp of what happened that I could hope to. But from what I could tell, Casanova is currently in a captive state, both in and out of the story. The main character is currently being forced into service, which makes him jump through time? Or space? Or dimensions? Or Indian goddesses? and that’s got him feeling very depressed. Meanwhile the narrative captions make fun of him, and his father isn’t his real father.
It all sounds pretty rough, although the emotional beats of the issue don’t work for a new reader. I had literally no idea how I was supposed to react to the intimate, quiet scenes here, because they rely on the reader already knowing the characters. The final page cliffhanger also takes new readers to an inexplicable place, more so than any comic I’ve ever read before.
The writing is great. It flows very very quickly, and Fraction is obviously really enjoying his return to this world and the characters. It’s professional. But it is impossible to understand what’s going on.
Gabriel Ba’s art I’m used to, from reading Daytrippers. The artwork here is brilliant fun, mainly ignoring anatomy in order to create dynamic, immediate impact on a page-to-page basis. When the comic uses a more structured style of storyboarding, Ba shows his ability to portray emotion and character. But when people get shot IN THE FACE, he makes sure that you really understand just how SHOT IN THE FACE they are. The colouring especially deserves celebration, because it’s the most enjoyable thing of the issue, for me. Every page is gloriously coloured, with Cris Peter doing a superlative job creating a consistent tone even when the comic is jumping through dimensions/time/space/Indian goddesses.
If you’re Warren Ellis, Kieron Gillen, Ed Brubaker, then you’ll probably love every single flick of this comic. If you’re a new reader, however… it’s probably best to start right at the beginning. Avaritia is a wonderfully-executed comic, but it doesn’t allow you any entry. If you were thinking about picking it up to see what all the hype was about? Go back to the very first issue. This is for fans-only.