This is one of those cases when reviewing a single issue from a larger story arc is a bit silly. Is that going to stop me? Obviously not.
"Casanova" is a comic that would almost automatically get a five-star rating from me. I see that a new issue is coming out, I drive my stylin’ two-door Honda Civic to the comic shop, I purchase the issue, I read it, and yup, that there is a five-star comic book. That’s what normally happens. This month, though, I’m going to knock off a star, and I’ll explain why.
First, it is a relatively sparse issue, and if you were to pick up one single issue of "Casanova," this is probably not the one to get. If you’re already reading "Casanova," you’re certainly not going to stop buying it in the middle of this story arc anyway. I mean, when is Casanova Quinn? We still don’t know! And you’re going to want to stick around and find out, right? And what’s the deal with Sasa Lisi? We still don’t know that either! We want to know, Matt Fraction -- please, please tell us.
This issue isn’t about answers. It’s about punching and guns blazing and heads flying (literally). In retrospect, maybe this is the issue to get, if you’re into that sort of thing. But it’s certainly not representative of the compression usually found in a "Casanova" issue. "Casanova" is about more than just action, and the action in this issue is probably meaningless to you unless you know what’s at stake, and if you haven’t read the previous issues (what are you waiting for???), then this isn’t the best time to jump on board, necessarily.
Will the story from this issue read well within the context of the larger story arc? Yes. And that’s why it’s kind of silly to review it on its own.
But, here’s my second concern, which is the other reason why I chose to give it only four stars instead of the five it usually deserves: Matt Fraction makes a rare writing error, and in an issue like this, which is sparse on dialogue anyway, an error really stands out. Fraction has been, over the past year, one of the consistently best writers in the industry. I adore his work, and I know the stuff he’s doing now will be seen as a high point of the decade, but as I read "Casanova" #12, I said to myself, “this feels rushed -- I think Fraction was overworked when he produced this one.” And the “back matter” in the comic indicates that Fraction was trying to write a half-dozen comics per month around the time of this issue, to get ready for the birth of his son. I wasn’t surprised to read that, because the story contains a misfire that a non-sleep deprived, fully alert Matt Fraction would never have allowed: Cornelius Quinn says to Sasa Lisi, on page five, “...if you’re here, it must be pretty goddamn important.” Then six pages later, he says almost the same thing, as if it’s new information: “…if you’re here, it’s for a good goddamn reason.”
That may seem extra nit-picky, but in an issue that is filled mostly with silence, as the characters words are absorbed by the airless void of space, Cornelius Quinn’s redundant explanation is particularly noticeable and causes the swift-moving story to stumble a bit.
"Casanova" is still one of the top five series published today, without a doubt. A tiny little storytelling gaffe doesn’t change that. It just proves that Matt Fraction is, as the rumors indicate, human.