Casanova Vol. 1: Luxuria, Casanova Gula #1-2

Posted by on February 24th, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Casanova Vol. 1: Luxuria by Matt Fraction and Gabriel Bá; Marvel ICON; 160 pp.; $14.99; Color; Paperback (ISBN: 9780785148623)

Casanova Gula #1-2 by Matt Fraction and Fabio Moon; Marvel ICON; $3.99 apiece; Color; Comic Books

The re-release of Casanova Luxuria and Casanova Gula by Marvels ICON imprint is a wise move not only to bring greater attention to the original 2006 series, but also to capitalize on Fractions popularity, Eisner wins, and above all, talent, as a precursor for the long-awaited third volume of Casanova launching this year.

It wasnt Fractions popularity from Invincible Iron Man or Uncanny X-Men, or any of a host of other Marvel titles that brought him to my attention.  It was a short story titled “Static” with artist Frazer Irving in 2006s 24Seven (Image) that was my first introduction to his work. Recommendations from Fred Van Lente and then Warren Ellis Extremis led to discovering Fractions Iron Man stories only a few months ago.  As one of the few Marvel characters not beholden to the never-ending, soap-operatic nature of the superhero, continuity-driven universes, Fractions Iron Man was, pardon the cliché, a breath of fresh air and highly entertaining.  Now, with Marvel behind the much heralded indy title, the addition of full color, and new story material, Casanova stands to reach an entirely new audience with the Feb. 9 release of Casanova Gula #2.

Casanova Gula, after only two issues, is an exciting follow up to Luxuria in part because of Fractions boldness in his approach.  While Luxuria embodies a high-octane, action-driven, and mind-bending plot surrounding superspy Casanova Quinn, Gula pulls back the curtain a little more and abandons the central-character focus of the first installment akin in some ways to Grant Morrisons transition in style and storytelling from volume one to volume two of The Invisibles: Bloody Hell in America.  Although expanding the cast to other series regulars and even some new faces might have been a risky venture, none of the individuals in Gula can be considered second tier in Fractions able hands because the unfolding narrative is equally thought-provoking and quirky.  Where Luxuria is cinematic, large and explosive, Gula is more personal, individual and sexualized. And, not since Morrisons The Invisibles have two separate volumes of a title been so seamlessly interconnected despite their vast differences in tone, atmosphere and emotion.

As Fraction points out in a 2010 interview, Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moons opposition to color in the original Casanova shifted due to the collaboration between Bá and Dave Stewart.  Thus, it is difficult to assess Bás acceptance of the new coloring in Casanova without an appreciation of Stewarts evolution in coloring of Bás pencils in The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse) or his work on the twins Daytripper (Vertigo).  Both Bá and colorist Cris Peter have a fascinating breakdown of the coloring process in Luxuria that reveals the control and authority Bá and Moon had in determining the color palette Peter could use.  While apparently a limitation, Peter reveals that this imposition forced her to gauge comic coloring in innovative ways.  Bá and Peter include the three-sequence process of the original black and green, Peters first coloring, and the final approved 45 color palette in Luxuria.

Along with other special features, from designing the cover art to the lettering process in the trade, to the individual, fun extras Fraction includes in the issues themselves, Casanova, again like The Invisibles, is one of the few titles where purchasing both the singles and the collection benefit the readers experience with and interpretation of the series.  A mash-up of bebop improvisation and science-fiction insanity, espionage thrillers and suave Bond-esque sensuality, with a pop sensibility that never deviates from its more underground themes and rhythms, Casanova Luxuria and the current Casanova Gula should not be missed for audiences looking for an original and creative voice in mainstream comics.

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One Response to “Casanova Vol. 1: Luxuria, Casanova Gula #1-2”

  1. […] is a link to my review of Matt Fraction’s collected paperback Casanova Luxuria and issues #1 and #2 of […]