Anatomy Lessons- Casanova #14

So throughout this storyline, there has been one central question posed over and over again, with a clever turn of phrase quite typical of this series—when is Casanova Quinn? 

Well, the shocking answer to that is provided (among other things) in a glorious 28 page beauty of a script titled Hallo Spaceboy, that just like the aforementioned first issue, crams much more story into a frame that shouldn’t be able to support it. And yet somehow it does, while proving that yes indeed, only Casanova has the brains, balls, and guts to do something as obviously insane as revealing that main character Casanova Quinn is really somehow impossibly inconceivably in the body of his own twin sister Zephyr Quinn, conducting the most undercover of undercover secret missions. When and where is Casanova Quinn, you say? He’s been right here the entire time and he’s trying to take a massive bullet for the sake of his family and friends.

The way the twist is uncovered is one of the finest moments of the entire series, and a lingering reward to those readers that have been paying very close attention to everything all along, yet still not enough to know just what Fraction was planning. It’s that thing that you’ll never see coming, but when you go back through the issues leading up to it, you notice those little things that always struck you as odd. Zephyr’s joke about a hard dick, the whole did you not thing, the subtle deflection caused by Zephyr’s admiration of Suzi Boutique, and a handful of other tiny things suggesting the absolute impossible. And since it was impossible, you never actually went there and said, “Hey, you know what would be awesome? If Cass was actually in Zeph’s body doing some incredibly important thing.” The final cherry on top is that the reveal comes after a grief stricken Kaito Best accidentally (kinda) fires a perfectly aimed shot through Zephyr’s neck, releasing a flood of psychometric crows. Yeah, it’s as strange as it sounds, but it’s also more awesome than it sounds, if you can possibly believe that.

So now it makes complete sense that the previous issue was filled with vignettes of Casanova patting his friends on the back and giving them words of encouragement to push them forward. Because the entire time, he’s been working to change the events that brought him to their timeline in the first place. Let’s ignore the fact that his mission’s success may very well result in his blinking out of existence, and/or ripping a big Casanova shaped hole in the space time continuum, as none of that’s really important. What’s really important is the reason why he’s doing it and his total willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good—essentially the removal of himself and his mistakes from the people he believes most effected by them. It’s a hugely important character turn that builds off the momentum that Fraction has been building since the very first issue and subtly brought back to the forefront in the preceding issue.

And just as it was there, the character development in this story is absolutely superb throughout, with every plot thread and possible emotion smashing into each other, altering not only this storyline but the one that came before it. Every character gets a moment here to show exactly how they fit into this great tapestry that Fraction and his enormously talented twin artists are creating, and they’ve succeeded in the creation of a true ensemble, where you can plug into the motivations and perspectives of a large number of characters both individually and collectively. Everyone has their story, their own arc to be revealed, and you want to experience all of them, if only because it’ll more deeply connect you with the story being told, as well as the person that’s telling it.

Casanova might on the surface be about crazy cool sci-fi adventuring with smartly named villains and cleverly conceived high concepts, but it’s a book that’s clearly about relationships—between father and son, brother and sister, creator and creation, lovers and friends, the past and the future, etc. The guns and consistent craziness are really just a method of delivery as Fraction examines the very universal themes of loyalty, betrayal, redemption, and sacrifice against the backdrop of a world that never stops changing and always needs saving. And honestly, the book means something dammit, and isn’t afraid to show it in the actual stories and in the additional commentary that accompanied every issue.

The addendum for #14 dealt with the role music plays in Fraction’s writing process, and every chapter of this story is named after a particular song that meant something or somehow inspired the creation of the series as a whole. The full track-listing appeared in the original Image release, but as someone who also considers music to be a critical component of my own process, it was cool to see that someone else is just as obsessed with its influence as I am. And again, it affirms that Casanova is a deeply personal work that changes and grows as its writer does, which will always be a refreshing change of pace when contrasted with the endless (though often enjoyable) hamster wheel most of our mainstream comics are perpetually trapped on. Casanova is actually about something, like all great comics are, and what’ll happen next in the book is a complete mystery. Imagine that?

But you put this all together and you’ve got another of my favorite comic scripts ever and the perfect end to a storyline which very confidently raised the creative bar for the entire series. And for comics in general, as far as I’m concerned.

Thankfully, the book is finally back with a new series (Avaritia), so I feel pretty confident in saying that there will be more of these features about the book in the future. Really only a matter of time, and if this is your first foray into my very obvious love for this series, check out the earlier pieces detailing my appreciation for issues #1 and #13

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