I must say, I’m so very glad that I live in a world that contains Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. Some explanation, of course, is necessary here, as most people probably have no clue who these wonderful men are. When I first started reading comics as an ongoing concern a few scant years ago, one of the first non-mainstream books I read was Casanova, from Image Comics. I picked up the first hardcover partially due to heavy recommendations from Comic Geek Speak, and because I had begun reading Matt Fraction’s Marvel work and had heard that Casanova was where he really uncorked himself and let loose. That sentiment is certainly true. The fourteen issues of that series that have hit stands are a crazy and wonderful spy romp that manages upon reaching the fourteenth issue to completely blow everything you knew apart and bring it all back together in a way that is sobering and keenly emotional. Casanova #14 is, to this day, the best single comic I’ve ever read.
Gabriel Ba was the artist on the first seven issues of Casanova. His twin brother Fabio Moon took over for the second seven; they have a very similar art style, so the transition is quite seamless. The reason Fabio had to take over the reins is chiefly because Mr. Ba got a new gig for Dark Horse as the artist for The Umbrella Academy. The writer for the book was what garnered most of the attention it initially received, because Gerard Way happens to also be the lead singer of My Chemical Romance. This is not a band I can say I’ve ever liked. What I can say is that Gerard Way is a HELL of a comic writer, as The Umbrella Academy has been a very Casanova-esque experience for me. The final issue of the second mini-series, Dallas, arrived in my DCBS shipment on Tuesday, and it was the second comic I read (because I simply cannot deny an issue of War of Kings). Quite a finish to the first twelve issues, as even though they’re separate mini-series, there is no denying that Dallas was simply issues 7 to 12 of the overarching story.
Gabriel Ba’s art has been consistently amazing, and as much as the Fables reader in me loved the James Jean covers from Apocalypse Suite, I must say that Ba’s covers, in addition to his interiors, have been a revelation. Just look at that cover for issue six. The emotion that Ba manages to convey in Number 5 just from the look in his eyes. That mix of fear, determination, and fatalism. The silhouette of Kennedy in the background split by the white column running through the middle of the piece. It’s incredibly well drawn and constructed. The art style perfectly matches the feel of the book (just like it did with both himself and his brother in Casanova), and the writing is top notch. It’s very similar to Casanova #14, really, where you have a character trying to do everything to disrupt an event and thus alter the time-stream, which leads to the absolute despair when he or she (or he?) fails. Both issues feature an extended epilogue that just deals with these folks trying to live their lives knowing what they know and dealing with what they experience, and it can be quite heartbreaking.
I just love the fact that you have these twin comic creators that are so damned fresh and new and perfectly suited to their subject matter, and they end up working on books that seem to share a very specific kinship to each other. It’s the way the second arc of each book manages to sum up everything that came before it in such an affecting way. Really, the books are just as much twins as the creators, and while Casanova and The Umbrella Academy probably won’t see new issues any time soon (Ba and Moon are super busy being badass artists all over this great world, Fraction’s got a full plate of Marvel work, and Way has to record a new album with MCR), I know I can just revel in these 26 issues of beautifully written and drawn comic work. That feels good.
This post was written to the tune of Mt. Helium’s Faces.
Who the hell is Mt. Helium, you ask? Well, they’re the band that was formed out of the ashes of The Apex Theory, a really fun band that put out a really good album in the early 2000’s (Topsy-Turvy), lost their singer, and reformed as Mt. Helium. They’ve gotten a lot more proggy, and I dig it.