It’s a universal truth that actions have consequences, but can actions have consequences for multiple universes? Readers of “Casanova,” writer Matt Fraction and artists Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon’s creator-owned series published by Marvel Comics’ Icon imprint, know the answer to that question is yes. In the first volume of the series they saw the title character, freelance thief and spy Casanova Quinn, transported to a world where he was no longer the black sheep of his family. This meant Casanova was on good terms with his alternate reality father, Cornelius Quinn, who ran the spy agency known as E.M.P.I.R.E. It also made Casanova the perfect pawn for the man who transported him to that reality, the villainous super genius known as Newman Xeno, who tried to manipulate him.
Casanova managed to extricate himself from under Xeno’s thumb, but the chaos and carnage that resulted placed him in a difficult position. In the current third volume of the series, “Casanova: Avaritia,” which features art by Gabriel Ba, Cass has been trying to clean up the cosmic mess he’s become embroiled in thanks to his forced interdimensional relocation. “Avaritia” ends on June 20 with the release of issue #4 and CBR News spoke with Fraction about the issue which brings the first act of the series to a close.
“Avaritia” began with Casanova being forced by E.M.P.I.R.E. to travel to different dimensions and execute that particular reality’s version of Newman Xeno. Over the course of his assassination missions Cass started to learn the origins of the mysterious, bandaged face Xeno, which led to a major complication. The more he uncovered about the man that would become Xeno, the more he started to care for him. In “Avaritia” #3 Casanova began to look for a way to prevent the musician known as Luther Desmond Diamond from becoming Newman Xeno. Unfortunately Xeno got wind of Cass’ attempt and decided to sabotage it.
“Casanova isn’t trying to stop Luther Desmond Diamond from being born. He’s trying to stop him from developing into Newman Xeno, and obviously Xeno has issues with that,” Fraction told CBR News. “This volume of ‘Casanova’ ends up being the battle for Luther’s soul. Cass is the Angel on one shoulder and Newman is the devil on the other.”
While Casanova is battling to save Luther Desmond Diamond, another of his enemies has been quietly consolidating power, Sabine Seychelle. In “Avaritia” #3, Fraction included some text identifying Seychelle as “the villain.” It’s an unfortunate label because Cornelius Quinn’s cancer currently has him consigned to a hospital bed, which means Seychelle is now the defacto head of E.M.P.I.R.E.
“When we first met Sabine he was a bad guy and he goes with the prevailing winds. Later he turns ‘state’s evidence’ and starts working with the good guys, but the minute he gets any kind of power it all comes rushing back to him,” Fraction explained. “He manipulated things to give him the second in command spot within E.M.P.I.R.E. We’ve seen that very rapidly go to his head, especially as pieces from N.E.T.W.O.R.K. and other spy organizations that were set up in early issues all get folded into this one organization. So thanks to a combination of his machinations, coincidence, and pure dumb chance Seychelle finds himself running the show and answerable to no one except himself. So his old tendencies are starting to come back.”
Sabine’s ultimate goal is still unclear, but whatever it is, it’s bound to be impacted by the events of “Casanova: Avaritia” #4, which ends the first act of the series and transforms it into a very different story. “Everything ends and this is no exception,” Fraction said with a laugh. “Ultimately I think it resolves not just this storyline, but the first and second ones as well. This ends our first act and turns the previous volumes of this book into a trilogy. Hopefully it answers all your questions at once.”
One aspect of “Casanova” that won’t be affected by events of “Avaritia” #4 is the book’s letter column. For Fraction, the letter column is a way to maintain a unique dialogue with the book’s readers about a variety of topics, not just the series.
“A letter column allows for more slow and thoughtful communication. It’s a different medium than, say, a quick reaction 140-character blast. It allows for a more a careful discourse,” Fraction explained. “Plus I would get super tired just talking about the book. I wanted to talk to other people and meet people. I wanted to hear from people and learn stuff rather than of ramble on about the book. Everything I feel about the book is in there.
“In the most recent column I was able to reach out to people who had pirated the book to see what they thought and felt about it. How did they come to pirate it? And did they later purchase it?” Fraction continued. “I always wanted to read about and ask things like this and the responses were all well thought out. I didn’t doctor the results I got either. I didn’t publish just the letters that justified my hypothesis. It’s very indicative of the different results we got. All of which has led me to believe that piracy of smaller books like ‘Casanova’ are sort of like reading a book on the shelf at the store. The letter column has kind of seen that through.”
While “Casanova: Avaritia” #3, was late arriving in stores, the book is back on track for a bi-monthly release schedule, so fans eagerly awaiting “Avaritia” #4 don’t have much longer to wait.
“June 20th, so thank you to all our readers and sorry we were gone for so long,” Fraction said. “I think the new issue is one the best things we’ve ever done. Hopefully everyone will find it’s worth the wait.”
“Casanova: Avaritia” is on sale June 20.