Joining us with a guest review is David Wright, with a look at a collection of RASL, the series created by Jeff Smith, who's best known for Bone:
RASL is a 15-issue comic series now collected into a nice hardback book that deals with a dimension hopping art thief who goes by the name of Rasl.
It has brilliant artwork, and a cool storyline too if you enjoy Sci-Fi. Jeff Smith's art is very sequential, and expressive, which has a naturalistic flow to it that makes it easy to follow and enjoy. He began his career in animation, and you can tell that influence on his art.
As I said, it is about a time traveling art thief, and that's the set up. But we quickly get a flashback of Rasl's former life as a physicist name Robert.
He and two other scientist (a husband and wife team) are experimenting in a secret program, known as the St. George Project, they discovered that time travel might be possible. To complicate matters Rasl and the wife of the other scientist are having an adulterous affair.
On the sly, Robert (Rasl) tests the jump suit that they've been inventing and discovers that it does indeed work. There are many tangents within the series, part of it includes the work of the famed scientist, Nikola Tesla, there's a small part about the Bermuda Triangle and The Philadelphia Experiment, there's a storyline that comments on the Tunguska explosion of 1908 in Siberia. Also we find out shortly in the story, that there's an odd shaped, rat-faced man following Rasl, who wants Tesla's notebooks.
So as the story opens we see Rasl jumping through different layers of space time. He is stealing artwork and reselling it. We don't know his motives for this at the beginning. In each time zone, things are a little bit different from his real world. So far I've seen him jump into three different dimensions. In one world, he notices the Blonde on Blonde album cover of Bob Dylan, however, in that world Dylan hasn't changed his name, on the album he has kept his real name, Robert Zimmerman. So each time zone is a little bit different from his real world.
That's another thing. When Rasl does these time jumps, it's stressful and leaves him weak and a bit confused. So whenever this rat face guy shows up, he's vulnerable unless he has rested. Also oddly, he can recharge his energy, through sex, so it seems.
So Rasl has abandoned his life's work, and is selling artwork for profit, and now hiding out and running through other dimensions pursued by a hit man. That's really about all you need to know to get started with the limited series. There's also a little ghost girl that he keeps bumping into as well, but what her connection is to the overall story, I haven't gotten to yet.
If this all sounds too complex to you, it's not. Jeff Smith's storytelling is clear and concise, full of action, sex, booze, science, and psuedo-science, that continually draws you in the further it goes. Click here and scroll down for an excerpt of the story - it's the first few pages.