Reviewing a comic by one of your favorite authors is generally a treat, but, it often comes with certain caveats. For example, do I review them based on the quality of their work relative to the rest of the industry or to their larger portfolio? If there are certain quirks that I have seen before and are generally good, do they get “points” for that or does it count as old hat because I’ve seen it before? Basically when reviewing a man like Matt Fraction, who has such a prominent position in the comic community, should I take him to task when I feel like he’s resting on his laurels?
The basic story of Casanova Acedia is so cliché that I definitely wouldn’t have picked it up if Matt Fraction wasn’t at the helm. There is a man who shows up out of nowhere, with no memory, but with certain skills that make him an efficient killer. Jason Bourne with a day job as a private security guard, basically. But even if the story is a little “tried and true” there is no rule that such a premise cannot work as a good story and certainly with a name like Casanova Acedia we can expect a little bit of genre convention humor to come out of the whole thing, right?
If it is true that we are going to see an switcheroo on an old genre convention then I would consider this first issue the setup for a punch line because it seemed to go about the genre pretty conventionally. Shadowy business men, femme fatale’s, and a searing narration all come on cue at about the beats you’d expect. Which is not exactly fair, Fraction definitely puts his edgy humor and sexual tones in ways that are both interesting and fun. It’s hard not to feel like I’ve seen it before from him though; characters that can’t speak English, liberal doses of nudity and surreal fight sequences aren’t quite as endearing as they were during his breakout phase.
If anybody is really pulling out the stops on this comic it has to be Fabio Moon. His linework is quick, but not too dirty and most of the characters have a nice cartoonish feel which allows them to be exaggerated without feeling unrealistic. His story beats seem pretty pitch-perfect harmonized with Fraction and the coloring by Cris Peters perfectly captures the tone of the story. If there is one thing worth particular mention though is Moon’s crisp, clear composition which brought some of the coolest panels I’ve seen in a while.
Overall Casanova Acedia is a pretty good comic. I feel I’ve probably been a little too hard on it and I didn’t even mention the secondary story that comes at the end (which is frankly much more interesting than the original story). I think if you’ve never read Fraction before then this probably isn’t the best place to start and if you have read him before then don’t expect anything as immediately engaging as Hawkeye or Sex Criminals. But we have to face it, even a mid-level Fraction book is worth the price of admission these days. Let’s just hope the next one does something a little more new.
“Casanova Acedia #1” earns 7/10