Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Casanova 14 (no spoilers)

I have seen a preview copy of Casanova 14 -- which may be out as early as next week.

It is the best single issue Matt Fraction has ever written -- on this or any other title.

There is a twist. there is always a big twist in these spy stories, but this is a doozy that shames anything that appeared in five seasons of Alias, or really anywhere else I can think of. I had unfair advanced knowledge of what it was before this arc started and I still got a knot in my throat at the impossible situation created. The delivery is so perfect I cannot imagine loving it any more had it come out of left field -- though there are clues everywhere and you WILL re-read the whole arc when you have this issue in hand. And more than a plot twist, it is an uncompromising emotional knockout -- with anger, pain, and regret -- you could really never get away with on television or in a movie. One of the best things this book does is be a COMIC, if that makes any sense. A good part of what I read is something ELSE: attempts to keep old television shows alive, movie pitches, Crossover Event Pyramid Schemes.

Fraction says he does not want ironic distance, but irony is everywhere in this book -- it is just that Fraction has some kind of futuristic technology on his word processor that lets him write around it and still hit the audience in the gut, no matter how "meta" he gets. Like Whedon, Fraction makes you want to cry -- in this issue most of all -- through avoiding the neatness of the screenplay wrap-up designed to make sure no one ever really changes even when they look like they do. Fraction gets messy. Decisions matter, and they hurt people. Even when it is irrational, such as issue 13's grief over robots. It matters because they are people and people care, no matter what. Like Whedon Fraction balances his emotional content with ironic distance -- but somehow it is completely different. He never descends -- well maybe once -- into Whedon's occasional creation of a tone the British refer to as "twee."

Fabio Moon is excellent here, as he always is, and he brings a little Akira-force bubble to a scene with Lisi that really stands out. Like Fraction, Moon strikes the balance: these characters really get to be pulp creations and also lost -- very lost -- people, trying to figure things out. How does he do that? This issue is all about magic moments, and his use of minimal backgrounds to highlight the epiphanies in all the chaos really gets the job done here. Towards the end of the book there is a real stand out tableau where two characters appear reflected by glass -- and they look like a painted blue Sin City scene. That is the image I would isolate to sell people on the power of the Moon.

My need to talk about the confrontation in the prison is AMAZING, but it will have to wait. It is maybe one of my favorite scenes in comics, period. Just a handful of words and no guns, and everything impossible, and you want to cry. Followed very shortly by my favorite absurd joke in the book -- and yet, unlike like in Whedon, the joke does not defuse the power of the moment at all. The simply magically hover there with each other, like peaches suspended in jell-o (if I can borrow one of my professor's favorite metaphors from Roth).

Oh, and get your iPods geared up and, on an unrelated thing, pull out the epilogue of Watchmen, the scene between Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandius. That is all I am saying about that. Even if you have never read a single issue of this title, go get Casanova 14. Volume two may be better than volume one, and issue 14 is better than any Casanova issue before -- and there ARE no bad or even middling issues of Casanova out there.


Kenney said...

So, and I might not understand you correctly, but you're saying you liked this issue right?

Your excitement for this issue really makes me want to read the book. I haven't done so yet, but I have plans to one of these days.

Prof Fury said...

Can't wait! I hear there will be a reckoning when this issue arrives . . .

Voice Of The Eagle said...

I swear, you make me want to genuflect before this comic.

Stefan Delatovic said...

Two days ago I sat down with a Casanova hardcover collecting the first volume.

I'd never read an issue before.

I found myself reading the entire thing in a single glorious afternoon.

I'm still picking my brain out of the curtains.

While reading, a ball of giddiness was collecting in my stomach. When I reached a strikethrough caption reading "It's a nice day for a fight wedding" I knew I'd never be able to review this work beyond a single word.


James said...

"Like Whedon, Fraction makes you want to cry..."

Buh! I guess Volume 2 has changed your mind about Casanova and Pathos? (Or no?) If you can even talk about that further without spoiling things.

Christian said...

... Goddamn you, Geoff.

I hate you for having read this before me.