For a guy who works on multiple projects simultaneously, it’s infuriatingly impressive how gracefully Matt Fractions moves between genres. Funny thing is that in all of his projects it’s difficult to peg any well-known genre that his work easily falls into. Take Casanova: Acedia for instance. It’s a comic that takes elements of a conspiracy thriller, blends it with noir elements, and adds a dash of the supernatural. Despite its influence though, Casanova: Acedia never feels like it’s hoping to be anything other than itself, and what this book is ultimately is a very satisfying read. Things start out this issue with a group of men dressed in yellow jumpsuits, posing for a photo. All of the men but one goof off, seemingly uninterested in taking the photo while offhandedly talking about an organization known as E.M.P.I.R.E. The final panel of the page is an image of the photo that’s taken, cutting to the next page where we find that Mr. Botique, Casanova’s boss, is the one looking at the photo, an artifact of the life he cannot recall, and that Casanova is on a mission to unravel. Casanova then enters the office, recapping what went down at the library at the end of the previous issue (attack by Picasso-faced assassins, his car getting destroyed, magical symbols aplenty. nbd.) before heading out to continue his investigation, meeting a few new characters along the way and potentially becoming possessed at some point.
Ya, that is a lot for an issue. Somehow though, Fraction and artist Fábio Moon do fantastic work of keeping the focus on the characters at all times while keeping the story moving at a brisk pace. Fraction pulls this off by providing a script with simply great fucking dialogue that’s charming and funny, Casanova coolly talking about his attack last issue and Mr. Boutique making a none-too subtle reference to Dr. Strange. With Casanova and Mr. Boutique, Fraction gives the two an ease and familiarity that has formed over time while Casanova has been an employee of Mr. Boutique’s. Their relationship makes it easy to emotionally invests on the outcome of Casanova’s investigation, Mr. Boutique acting as a paternal figure to the amnesiac Casanova in a way that’s never saccharine. He somehow manages to then introduce a police duo, and a street magician in just three action-oriented pages that do a great job of establishing each of these character’s personality, and again, implying a history between these characters through the way that they speak to each other. For instance, we know that the street magician Thelonious is a police informant simply from Detective Kaito’s throwaway line “He had to make it look believable” as an apology for his partner, Detective’ McShane’s punch.
Add to this impressive character work, the fact that Fábio Moon illustrates the hell out of this comic, particularly during an interrogation scene with the female assassin from last issue, and it becomes more difficult for me to justify not having read previous volumes of this great series. I have no idea what turn this comic will take next (hopefully that demon makes a comeback), but so long as Fraction and Moon are at the helm, I trust it’s gonna be a good time.