Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Casanova 8: pure, distilled fun

Reading Casanova is like inhaling the expression oils of some otherwise inaccessible essence of entertainment as they are boiled in an alembic, vaporized, and then condense in front of our noses, producing the aroma of pure, distilled fun. Nothing else that the superhero companies put out can compare to this stuff - it's as electric as the shockingly blue accent colors within its pages. (Electric blue? The gall!) Jean-Baptiste Grenouille couldn't have concocted a more enticing aroma. (Am I mixing my aroma and electricity metaphors? I don't care!)

The first issue in Fraction's new arc, it hits us with three quick acts - the first entirely bathetic but necessary in order to establish Casanova's new status quo, the second reestablishing the tone, character, and humor of the comic, and the third pulling the rug out from underneath us by discarding everything that came before it. In 16 pages, Fraction can pack an embarrassment of story and humor into a space that's smaller than that which lesser writers can only fill with such trivialities like 'establishing the setting' or 'introducing the characters'. The cliffhanger question that closes the book - it was included in solicits, but I won't copy it here for fear of ruining the surprise - is at once stupefying and, when we realize that Fraction can and will get away with absolutely anything, totally appropriate.

As an added bonus, Fraction provides a sort of journal entry at the end of the comic, explaining why Casanova was beset by so many delays this year and linking his personal life to various parts of the story that we've just completed. It's sort of a director's commentary, and makes an immediate re-read even more rewarding than it already would have been. If you haven't read the first 7 issues or picked up the hardcover, do so now - if only so you can appreciate just how fantastic this issue is.

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