The first issue of “Casanova: Avaritia” was a little hard to process. After such a long wait since the end of the book’s original run at Image, it was hard to know what would happen with a new volume of “Casanova.” The new stories in the recolored/relettered reprints from Icon gave a clue; expectations were tentatively high and those are hard circumstances to succeed under no matter how good a comic you produce. The good news about that is, with the first issue out of the way and the tone and story of “Avaritia” established, the second issue is more its own beast and not burdened by expectations and hem-hawing over whether or not the long wait was ‘worth it.’ It gets to simply be a really good comic.
E.M.P.I.R.E. has stepped up its plans to ensure Newman Xeno never exists by changing strategies: instead of simply destroying alternate timelines, Casanova now just has to kill every alternate timeline Luther Desmond Diamond. There are worse things that cleanly destroying entire timelines and that’s killing the same man over and over and over again. If you thought Casanova was depressed last issue, his misery is tenfold now. But, he sees a way out and that’s by actually connecting with Diamond and not killing him.
The ensuing issue is strange and shifting, constantly pressing forward through alternate timelines that bleed into others (including one where Diamond is the writer of a comic called “Casanova”). Casanova’s struggle to make Diamond understand his plight and escape from E.M.P.I.R.E. watchful gaze long enough to save the future Newman Xeno is some of Matt Fraction’s most emotionally poignant writing. He also finds room to deconstruct his own writing in a few different ways along with the nature of artistic creation. The interior monologue of Diamond the writer is almost disturbing, but not as disturbing as him shouting “I’m just in it for the laffs!” as he kills his fans with a gun.
Can the internet handle any more nice things said about the art of Gabriel Bá? Well, it’s going to have to: Bá’s art is amazing. As Fraction points out in the issue’s backmatter, part of what makes Bá so great are the small touches he includes like the intricate knots tied to keep a dead man down, but it’s also the way he perfectly captures a moment like Casanova’s brief moment of peace and tranquility on the first page. This is an issue of fantastic panels that stop you dead and wonder how someone can so completely capture a single moment so well.
Aiding Bá is colorist Cris Peter. It took a little adjusting when the Icon reprints started, but his moody, expressive colors add so much to the art. She doesn’t worry about capturing the realities of a scene, just the tone and emotional mood. A specific color dominates one scene and, then, isn’t seen again in the next. It’s the sort of coloring that more comics should be striving for.
“Casanova: Avaritia” is a different comic from “Luxuria” and “Gula,” and that’s a great thing. The first issue was a little hard to absorb because of expectations, but this issue doesn’t have those problems. It hits the ground running and packs in so much that one read isn’t going to do it. More than that, it’s an improvement over the first issue as the expectations aren’t as high for Fraction and company. The pressure is off a little and it shows in a more relaxed, skillfully done issue. I can’t wait for number three.