Casanova: Gula #1(of 4) - 'In Media Res' b/w 'When The Wolf Comes Home' - Fraction, Moon and Peter
Story - Reading Casanova makes you cool. This is a fact, it cannot be disputed, Casanova is just one of those comics that transcends the medium and becomes a legitimate pop-cultural object of cool. And I have to say it, the fact that I'm one of the select few to have already read Gula makes me much cooler than you. Yes, you, and especially you.
Gula is the second arc of Casanova, encompassing issues 8 to 14 of the original run, and unlike the first story, Luxuria, it hasn't been collected, making people like me part of an exclusive club, of your social betters. Gulunatics maybe? I don't know. But basically, I've already read this story, which is important, as even though I've already read it, I'm willing to pay for it all over again, and love it all over again.
Casanova is a mad book, stuff happens and often you can't keep up, but then again, half the time, I don't think you're meant to keep up, the hyper-complexity of Casanova is pretty much one big joke, it's a comment on over-complicated science-fiction. But it is also itself over-complicated sci-fi. Fraction's ability to tilt the absurdity to almost-but-not-quite parodic levels is one of the finest writing balancing acts I've ever seen. The closest comparison I can think of is The Venture Bros, which manages to have an epic superhero mythology that is simultaneously a parody of epic mythologies. The fact that each issue of these Icon reprints is actually 2 Image issues only adds to that hyper-complexity, you aren't given a month to chew over what the hell happened, you are given a page!
To be fair, the first few chapters of Gula are fairly straightforward by Casanovian standards. Casanova takes out a ridiculous villain (Dokkktor Klockhammer), and is then called in for a new mission, to discover the mysterious H-Element. He then disappears. 2 years later, Kaito is now a super-agent, and a weird 4-armed alien chick shows up. None of this really matters, it's just a hook for cool dialogue and action. But at the same time it all matters. We then follow the adventures of Casanova's evil sister Zephyr and her new boyfriend Kubark Benday. The plot here is largely irrelevant (or is it? It's both!), what matters here is the sheer joy, fun and invention that leaps off the page, the one-panel blaxploitation poster for example, it's just great to see someone play around with comics.
In re-reading this issue, you see how Casanova actually does have hidden depths, there are clues here to the question of 'When Is Casanova Quinn?' that at the time seem like goofy jokes, and may have actually been jokes at the time. That's the problem with intellectually discussing Casanova, it robs it of it's Casanova-ness. It's a comic which is deep, but doesn't particularly want to be, to discuss it seriously is just a dick move, it's a lot more fun to just sit back and enjoy the insane ride, and cool dialogue, because not caring is what cool people do, and cool people read Casanova, not once, but twice, and three times on Sunday.
Art - One thing you do have to take seriously when it comes to Casanova is the art, because it really is one of the best looking comics on the stands. For this second arc, Gabriel Ba is switched out for his twin brother Fabio Moon, and really, they're both as amazing as eachother. Their styles are similar, but Moon's is probably a little looser, and a little more expressive, but whatever, whichever of the twins it is (and if you're fourthman, you think they're the same person) you're guaranteed 10/10 art all the way. These Icon reprints of course also add extra colours to the book, the original Image run being in only blue and white, which I loved, but hey, the market demands extra hues, and Cris Peter does a good job of adding more colour when it's needed, but in general keeping the blue tone. I don't really think the added colour is necessary, but if we have to have it, it does look good.
Best Line - Too many to choose from! 'I could go for like, 200ccs of fuckin' awesome injected in'ta my heart... stat' is a good'un, but every page has something worth a chuckle.