ADVANCE REVIEW: Casanova III: Avaritia #1

Casanova III: Avaritia #1

Casanova III: Avaritia #1

Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Gabriel Ba
Color by Cris Peter
Letters by Dustin K. Harbin

$4.99 / Color / 40 pages

Icon / Marvel Comics

If you’ve ever held an open laptop out before you like a divining rod, chasing an elusive wi-fi signal through some public terminal, you may commiserate with my own attempts to figure this shit out.

Though I’m in the site’s minority in actually enjoying some of Fraction’s Fear Itself, I am a third party when it comes to the Casanova game. There is clearly a transaction of passion between author and select readers which plays to me like those moments when R2D2 makes a series of blip-bleeps and Luke nods knowingly. Or the complex language developed by twins before they’re forced to play by society’s rules. Lassie indicating through barks that Timmy is not only trapped in a well, but that there’s dynamite down there too.

I’m just missing something. And I can’t define it.

Likely, this has less to do with intelligence or experience and much more to do with some mysterious factor we’ll call x. As humans, we simply don’t receive on all signals. It’s why we’re not best friends with absolutely everybody, regardless of shared circumstances.

Put it this way. Try as I might to tune in, I am simply not subscribed to the Matt Fraction premium cable package, leaving his most personal and idiosyncratic work decidedly incomprehensible. Though, like scrambled pornography, those infrequent flashes of ascertainable goodness are all the more a commodity. Forbidden fruit for the picking. To wit, I smirked at a few panels.

All this to say, I have no idea what I’m meant to glean from this wildly erratic narrative. Yes, Casanova Quinn remains a rapscallion man-out-of-time, miserable in his Kafkaesque task of unending temporal waste management for E.M.P.I.R.E. He peers through the long-crumbled 4th wall to acknowledge that metaphor and reality have never been all too discernible in this series. There are literal McGuffins walking in and out of this story, clearly labeled. Car chases. Nudity. Kirby Krackle. But to what end?

My takeaway, made all too apparent by the shared artist, is that Casanova–visually and otherwisehas nothing on Umbrella Academy, a series with similar themes and ambitions. Both aspire to ultracool, operatic heights, but it’s Way’s book that offers rip-roaring invention, bravado, and sheer fun. Where one goes about defying gravity by way of nitrous infused helium, the other is all hot air.

Since the language did not zero in on my ticklish places, I was left with plot and art. The former left me wanting, as it amounted to a superficial time travel romp with sleepwalking characters. Ennui for eons and eons. Clearly Fraction is passionate about something, but the characters themselves don’t seem so enthused as the overall narrative voice. They seem to be drowning in all the psychobabble. I’ve found myself mesmerized by complex metaphysics from the likes of Morrison and Ellis, though those instances always came with the understanding that there was true substance behind all the concepts. Here, it comes off as hollow. Depthless. The art is far muddier and inconsistent than other recent projects to which Ba has contributed, especially lately. There are a few laudable images, including a brief 3D sequence and a Mignola-esque page associated with “spatiotemporal holocausts” but nothing feels as lovingly polished as Daytripper or Umbrella Academy. Minus the lingo and assumed swagger, the Emperor–not unlike Cas throughout much of the issue–has no clothes.

Story: 2 / Art: 3 / Overall: 2

(Out of 5)


  1. So In the begging of the review you state that your not buying what fraction and company are selling in terms of this series. Great. It’s not for everybody. I just don’t understand the choice of having someone who self admittedly doesn’t “Subscribe to the Fraction Cable Package” as you put it , review this book. This is a book that the creators put a lot of work into , and this review just doesn’t even bother to give it a shot. Your introduction reeks of self righteous pretension , and It almost seems like you went into this not wanting to even give the book a chance.

    Look I don’t know you as an individual, and I’m sure your a great dude, and I respect the fuck out of your right to an opinion
    but this review seems more about YOU and not at all about the comic.

    • He didn’t like it. Why is his review not valid? He thought the story was incomprehensible, flash without substance, and found Ba’s artwork disappointing. Sounds valid to me.

      I don’t want reviews from Casanova Superfan #1. I already know their opinion.

    • I gave this a fair shake. Truly. It remained impenetrable after three readings. I am one of a very small number of reviewers on the site who found something to like in Fraction’s Fear Itself, so I’m not sure anyone was going to give it more of a chance than I did.

    • Fair enough Paul, Just saying the way your review is worded, and your introduction don’t at all give that impression.

    • Understood, and you make a fair point. I just cleaned up some of the language and added a bit of context to the review itself without altering my original opinion. I felt it only fair to concede to that edit here.

  2. Has the reviewer read the rest of Cassanova? Cause this review seems fairly negative is the most unhelpful of ways.

    • EDIT: Also for someone who bemoans Fraction’s verbose and complex writing style the reviewer sure seems to wax poetic in his review.

    • Full disclosure: I read the first series and felt about the same. I did not read the second series. This issue was made available to us and I wanted to give it another shot.

      The second thing: Consciously or not, I tend to riff on the language and tone of what I’m reviewing. So I got a little spacey this go around.

  3. I feel this review. I understand there are some big Casanova fans out there and I guess they have a hard time understanding why other people wouldn’t like the series. But I’m in the same boat as Paul. I’ve always interpreted Casanova as a load of nonsense with a few cool ideas scattered around. Something I could almost enjoy, if I could just get past the presentation.

    I really enjoyed Five Fists of Science, another of Fraction’s earlier books. Fell was the other slim line book at the time Casanova was originally coming out and I loved Fell. So I kept trying Casanova because it was supposed to be great and kept not getting it. When the series was re-released under Icon I wanted to give it another try. Still nonsense.

  4. I like the review and it, along with the comments, made me curious about the book. I’ll check the first series out.

  5. It’s ridiculous to suggest that a reviewer shouldn’t give his opinion unless its positive.

    I found this review helpful. I too tried Casanova volumes 1 & 2, didn’t connect with it and wondered if volume 3 would be the one where I got it. I trust Paul’s opinion and he has helped me to decide I will pass. Paul did his part.

    It’s up to Fraction to sell the book, not Paul.

  6. Strangely this review is incredibly positive for me. It indicates that this is old, good, Indy fraction and not current terrible marvel fractions. Besides iron fist and the first few arcs of iron man, fraction has struggled to find his voice at marvel. this sounds like a return to form

  7. I rather like Casanova but there is simply no way in hell I’m paying $5 for a monthly comic book.

    • I think $5 for a book that has 40 pgs is a pretty good deal.
      Id hardly consider this book “monthly”. The entire arc is 4 issues and its the first new issue in like, 4 years. i think we’ll be lucky if we see 6 issues come out in the next year.

    • I’m hoping this comes in a package similar to The Red Wing or Criminal: Last of The Innocents. High quality printing and presentation like that plus some cool backmatter goes a long way to justifying the price tag for me. Look at it this way, it’s like buying a $20 trade in installments, right?

    • For sake of clarity, I should say that only 32 of those 40 pages are story. Eight pages are dedicated to a letter column.

    • Yeah, especially because the first couple of arcs were $4 a pop and Bendis’ Icon books are still, I believe, set at $4 as well.

      Of course, I think $4 for a 22 page book is a total rip off as well – especially from the Big 2.

  8. Truth be told, I’ve also always felt like I didn’t “get” Casanova.

  9. You are not alone. I am not a fan of Casanova (I have tried), but I have been enjoying Fear Itself. I don’t know if this says anything about comic books, their fans, or Fraction’s writing, but I think it’s an interesting occurrence.

  10. For someone else who has struggled through this series for the art’s sake, you review made it all worthwhile and the comparison to scrambled pornography pretty much nailed it on the head.

    That said, after about the fifth reading the previous volumes really clicked with me and I enjoyed it immensely.

    With that also being said, there’s no way I’m paying $5 for a monthly (in theory) book.

  11. Casanova is, sincerely, the best comic I have ever read. I can absoutley see why someone wouldn’t “get” it, and that’s not a, “I’m smarter than you” thing, just a “it’s not for every one.” That said, I don’t understand why there is a review, by one of my favorite Ifanboy writers, mind you, that is basically saying: “I don’t get it.” It’s not even that the review is bad, it is that it literally says I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT. It’s like reading a review by someone who didn’t understand TREE OF LIFE, why would I use this to form my opinion about rather or not I want to see it?

    • To say that a creator wasn’t able to connect with you through their work, that you found it to be not engaging or confusing, is a fair criticism. Paul has acknowledged that this hits the right chord for others and he can appreciate that but this didn’t work for him, it just seems like a mess. He also has fairly let the readers know that this might not connect with them either. As a reader of the book I don’t think it is unfair to say that this is a series that definitely isn’t for everyone.

      A reviewers job is to convey their view of the work as best they can with as much thought and supportive explanation possible in the space available. Paul has done that.

    • For the record, I heartily enjoyed Tree of Life.

  12. Paul, how much have you read of the previous two Casanova outings? I’m fine with someone who doesn’t normally “get” Fraction writing a review, but if you haven’t read the two series before this, I might blame lack of resonance with context rather then craft. It’d be like reviewing Return of the Jedi without watching Hope and Empire. Or maybe, in this case, Jaws 3 without watching Jaws 1 and 2 (“How did a franchise so crappy make it this far?”). That’s all I’m sayin’.

    That said, overall, AVARITIA reviews haven’t been super positive. It’s a shame since that’s about the only thing of his I’ve liked.

    • He’s already answered this above in the comments.

    • I read the first series and based on my disinterest in that arc passed on the second. When this was made available to us, I volunteered to try it and give the story a second chance. I grasp the overall plot and appreciate the context of these pages. But the storytelling was not to my liking, and beyond the unappealing style, I did not find much substance.

      There is also less plot summary in this review than I might offer otherwise, but as this is an advance review I’m just giving an overall impression.

    • I kind of agree. I haven’t read any Casanova, but I’ve always wanted to and I checked out this review to see if I should. I probably wouldn’t have started from this issue, so this review doesn’t really answer whether I should check this book out but only tells me I shouldn’t check this book from this issue. It’s helpful in that respect, but doesn’t really say anything in context to the series as a whole.

      It seems a better example would be to review the third season of Lost after not watching the first or second season. You miss a lot if you don’t watch everything before, and if you didn’t like anything before it you’re not going to like it

    • I wrote my comment before you two replied. I don’t mean to sound like I’m trying to insult you. I understand why you reviewed it ands didn’t like it. I just think my lost example still fits though

  13. Paul is a ballsy reviewer. l liked all of his reviews but a few.

  14. “Ennui for eons and eons.”


  15. Honestly, a review is one persons opinion of the work of another. This review should be taken as a morsal of knowlege in a feast of information. if you were on the fence about whether or not to check out this book maybe this review has confirmed your apprehension. For me though, this review has peaked my interest and now i am going to make sure to pick up the entire series, if for nothing else to simply read the book and devise my own opinion. paul did his job. he told us what he thinks and whether it was based on his “not getting it” or not, this premise is the majority of what drives a person to like or dislike the writing of the book.

  16. It seems that feelings for this book are all over the place. For my part, I picked up the first issue when Icon reprinted it a year or two ago. Admittedly I lost at least one thread of the plot by the time I reached the end of the issue, but wasn’t ready to write it off entirely. I did decide, though, that it could wait ’til trade, and, soon thereafter I mostly forgot about the series. To this day, I have only read the first installment. So it goes . . .

  17. Don’t jump on Paul’s case, this comic didn’t have NEW 52! labeled on the corner…