Sucked Up Into His Mind- a review of Casanova: Acedia #5

Casanova: Acedia #5
Written by Matt Fraction and Michael Chabon
Drawn and Colored by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Bá
Lettered by Dustin K. Harbin
Published by Image Comics

Who is Casanova Quinn? The answer to that  question feels like it’s something that we should already know because we have lived with Matt Fraction, Gabriel Bá and Fabio Moon’s character for going on ten years now. But an amnesiac Casanova lost on some parallel world that may be our own, having built a new life for himself and now finding out that the foundation of that life may be lies just raises the question again of who is Casanova Quinn? Is he a spaceman? A secret agent? A majordomo? Or a double agent about to betray the man who has given him everything in this new life? Whoever Quinn may be, Fraction and Moon invade Casanova’s constructed life with truths, demons and bookstore truths that make this world seem about as logical and steady as an M.C. Escher print.

The world of Casanova doesn’t make sense. As truths are revealed to be lies, and maybe some of the lies are also truths, Fraction and Moon seem to be searching for an artistic truth as well. At one point, a character who is an alternate version of a character we’ve known throughout the course of the story is given a copy of Casanova Volume 2: Gula, the book where the question of who Casanova Quinn is was the central conceit of the volume. This is the first example of Fraction and team employing circular storytelling in this issue with a level of meta-commentary buried in this issue. Who is Casanova if he isn’t just a comic book character who, on some level, is functioning as a fiction suit for his creators?

This issue even doubles Báck on itself in many different ways. The opening of Fraction and Moon’s story “Mutineer” goes Báck to the beginning of the Acedia storyline, shortly after Casanova arrives on this earth, disoriented and rushing for the safety of an aBándoned house with a long aBándoned recording studio. Shedding his clothes as he runs to the house, the metaphorical nakedness and loneliness of the character echoes throughout the issue and through the Metanauts backup by Michael Chabon and Gabriel Bá, which ends in the moments before the Fraction/Moon story begins, with a man about to commit suicide just as Casanova invades this world.

Fraction’s writing here in Casanova: Acedia #5 mirrors Cass’s state of mind; confused and disoriented. While there’s an everything-you-know-is-wrong aspect to the story, there’s also an everything-you-know-maybe-isn’t-what-you-think-it-is aspect as well. This series has taken place in a different alternate reality than what’s previously come in the book so characters look and sound like characters we and Casanova know but Casanova (and by extension, the audience) has to struggle against assuming that everyone is who he knows them to be. As one character is given a copy of Casanova Volume 2, Casanova’s own story is absent in this reality and in its place is an uncertainty of the world and its foundation.

The first three volumes of Casanova were a manic race as Fraction, Bá and Moon did everything they could to get their story down on paper. Casanova: Acedia has pulled back on that pace, feeling like a whole new introduction into the mindscape of Casanova. Fraction and Moon place the reader on the same unsteady ground that the characters are on while Chabon and Bá carry on that energetic chaos of the previous volumes of this title. Casanova: Acedia #5 pulls back even more as its circular meta-narrative is both contemplative and mysterious.