Being a spy means often involves having to engage in dangerous and downright criminal acts like lying, stealing and murder. Typically, these breaches of law are performed to further the interests of a specific cause or organization, and they’re often carried out in exotic locations. Spies routinely go globe-hopping, carrying out missions all around the world. The spy protagonist of writer Matt Fraction and artists Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon’s creator-owned series “Casanova” does more than that — he’s a dimension-hopping super spy!
The first “Casanova” series began with it’s titular character being kidnapped from his home dimension and thrust into a new reality. On September 7, Fraction and Ba kick off the latest volume of their psychedelic spy saga with the four issue miniseries “Casanova: Avaritia,” published by Marvel Comics’ Icon Imprint. CBR News spoke with Fraction about the series, which finds the super spy thrust across a multitude of dimensions in his quest to take down the man responsible for his inter-dimensional abduction: Newman Xeno, the head of the mysterious criminal organization known as W.A.S.T.E.
In 2006’s “Casanova” #1, Fraction and Ba introduced readers to Casanova Quinn, a freelance thief and the black sheep son of Cornelius Quinn, head of the global espionage agency known as E.M.P.I.R.E. In the series’ initial story arc, “Luxuria,” Cas’ twin sister Zephyr, a top E.M.P.I.R.E. Agent, is murdered and Cas finds himself transported to an alternate reality where he was the top agent who died and Zephyr is an agent of Newman Xeno’s W.A.S.T.E. In this new reality, Cas is forced by Xeno to infiltrate his father’s spy agency as a double agent.
In the series’ second story arc, “Gula,” Fraction and artist Fabio Moon upped the action, double-crosses and cosmic concepts with a storyline that saw the Quinn family investigating secret criminal cons XSM and their plans to help Xeno further manipulate the space-time continuum. It’s fair to say that the first two volumes of “Casanova” allowed Fraction the chance to indulge in two things he loves: spy stories and big, crazy, science fiction ideas. It’s equally safe to say that this will also be the case with “Avaritia.”
“When I was offered the opportunity to do the book, it was my first regular, ongoing comic. I was convinced that no one would ever give me another chance, so I wanted it to be a comic unlike anything else I had read,” Fraction told CBR News. “I wanted it to be a comic that I wanted to read instead of making yet another Batman rip-off. So this was the comic I always wanted to read — or at least a stab in that direction.”
Another important influence on and element of “Casanova” is music. Each of the previous volumes of the series had it’s own unique, look, rhythm and feel, and that continues with “Avaritia.”
“The new volume is just as a different as all the other ones, and hopefully volume four will be even more different, still. I wanted ‘Casanova’ to change and grow and not be locked into any sort of shape, form or pattern,” Fraction explained. “I wanted it to become the book it needed to be as the story grows.”
“Casanova” was originally published through Image Comics as a black and white series. In 2010, it moved to Marvel Comics’ Icon Imprint where the original issues were re-issued in color, along with two new short stories — one of which is very important to the latest volume of the series. In the bonus short story “Dit Dit Dit Dah Dah Dah Dah Dit Dit,” the clock was rewound by a couple of decades and readers met Luther Desmond Diamond, a man swathed in bandages just like arch villain Newman Xeno.
“That story and the first issue of ‘Avaritia’ will connect a lot of dots,” Fraction stated. “You’ll see why that story was placed where it was and how it ties all these different generations together.”
Before he covered himself in bandages, readers got a good look at Luther Desmond Diamond’s face, which was strikingly similar to that of musician David Bowie. According to Fraction, this was no accident. “Aside from being a huge Bowie fan, I wanted Luther to have the quality of someone who readily adopts and reinvents personas,” Fraction said. “This arc is very Bowie-inspired and the visual reference is deliberate; as deliberate as Casanova looking like Mick Jagger. Get used to Luther. You’ll be seeing a lot of him.”
Throughout “Avaritia,” Luther and several other characters will be appearing at different points across the space-time continuum. The first issue alone features several all-new alternate realities. “I have the unfortunate job of keeping track of all the other dimensions we visit, and now [Marvel editor] Alejandro Arbona has the even more unfortunate job of keeping track of my keeping track,” Fraction said with a laugh. “There’s an actual map, and I have to redraw it every time there’s another issue or Alejandro catches something I screwed up.”
“Avaritia” takes place some time after “Gula” and finds Casanova Quinn in a bad place, emotionally. “However long it’s been since the last issue of ‘Gula’ and the first issue of ‘Avaritia’ is how much time has passed for Cass and company. We find Cass completely at the opposite of where he was at the beginning of volume one — and deliberately so,” Fraction remarked. “We still have an accessible story; Avaritia #1 is the start of a new chapter, but it’s clear there’s a history here for the cast of characters.”
“In this volume a young man continues to grow up and sometimes as an adult you have to cover the checks you wrote with your mouth when you were a shithead kid,” Fraction said, describing the theme of the book. “‘Avaritia’ is the story of Cass cleaning up some messes that are his to clean up and some that were made by others. It’s about amends, recompense and growing up; only with spies, robots, boobs, violence and lots of other exciting stuff. This is the story of Casanova and Newman Xeno and how one needs the other.”
Readers met a multitude of strange and interesting supporting characters over the course of the first two “Casanova” storylines, and according to Fraction, many of those characters will appear once again in “Avaritia.” “All of your favorites will be back! The thing about ‘Casanova’ is that it’s a world where nobody is just a waitress or a dental hygienist. Everybody is a star within their own story, so a lot of characters will come back and you’ll get to meet some new folks, too. There’s all kinds of transdimensional fun and games that allows us to play with some new faces and a lot of old favorites.”
One thing fans can expect is that in “Avaritia,” Casanova’s interactions with these characters will be more emotionally-charged than usual. “Things are going to be heavier and a lot more psychedelic than they have been in the past,” Fraction remarked. “Things aren’t meant to be as cavalier as they appeared. There are prices to pay for everything, and we’re going to start to see the cast paying those prices. We’ve had the appearances of glamour and excess and now the check is due. But, for Casanova, the party is over.”
Each issue of “Avaritia” will be packed with character development, character interaction and all-out-action. Fraction and his collaborators, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, know that money is tight for everyone these days, so the creators strive to make sure every issue of “Casanova” is worth the cover price. ” Each issue of ‘Avaritia is $4.99 for 32 pages of story and eight pages of bonus material that will not be reprinted anywhere,” Fraction remarked. ” It costs a buck more, but you’re getting 60 percent more comic for 20 percent more cost. It’s a giant fucking slab of space comics that have come from the future to mess your shit up.
“It feels like we’re coming to the end of the first half of the story,” Fraction continued. “Where we go next is even better, even bigger, even newer! In a strange way, volume four and beyond is really the book I wanted to do, but I had to do these three to get there. Sort of like how Mills and O’Neill had to do three ‘Nemesis: The Warlock’ books to finally get to where they wanted to start. With ‘Avaritia,’ I’m finally getting to the point where ‘Casanova’ started off in my mind.”
“Casanova: Avaritia” #1 hits stands Wednesday, September 7