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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Drifting away, 7 Jun 2009
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Rasl Volume 1: The Drift (Paperback)
Anyone expecting "Rasl" to be anything like Jeff Smith's graphic-novel epic "Bone" is going to be really, really disappointed.

But taken by itself, it is a thoroughly solid graphic novel experience, and obviously the start to a very unusual sci-fi story. Though brief, "Rasl Volume 1: The Drift" introduces us to a very unusual thief who has uncovered a strange new power. Too bad someone's about to cause him trouble because of it.

Rasl was once an eminent scientist, but is now a master thief. He makes his getaways using the Drift: using a couple of engines, he can transport himself from one parallel world to another. But after one heist, he ends up in the wrong parallel universe -- and a strange lizardy man attacks him, making Rasl realize that someone is pursuing him.

Once he's gotten back to the right world, he stumbles into the arms of his prostitute lover Anne, who says he's never looked this bad before. But when Anne is murdered, Rasl sets out to the Compound -- and a bucketload of old memories -- to discover who the lizardy man is, and who is hunting him through all the different worlds...

"Rasl" is in many ways the opposite of Smith's prior work -- it's low on dialogue (whole pages go by in complete silence), the art is spare and sharp-edged as the deserts Rasl wanders in, and the entire collection is redolent of dusty roads, lonely nights, lost loves and a sense of paranoia that keeps you looking over your shoulder.

Admittedly this first collection is brief -- only three issues long -- and the first part is a rather slow-moving affair. But it picks up after Rasl arrives at Anne's house, and starts coiling into a tense, tight storyline with some stark fight scenes, a moment or two of poignancy, and the occasional side-trip to a run-down strip club.

And though Smith doesn't waste a word, he manages to convey the haunting, paranoid feeling of a wanted man. Particularly, a wanted man who can get lost in other worlds that are similar to ours, but have subtle differences. Example: a world where Bob Dylan records under his real name.

Rasl himself doesn't seem very likable at first -- he's a thief with a scientific gimmick, a sour outlook and some solid fighting skills. But flashbacks give us a bit of insight into how he used to be, and his investigations into the Compound and the lizardy-man (who's even creepier up close) provide some intriguing possibilities for the future.

"Rasl Volume 1: The Drift" is quite short, but packs a pretty hefty amount of plot into its pages. And it seems that it will only get better.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty and mysterious., 22 Jan 2009
By 
A. Willmer (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rasl Volume 1: The Drift (Paperback)
I first came across Jeff Smith through reading the 'Bone' series. For anyone who hasn't gotten round to reading it yet (Why?! Order it immediatley!!!!), it's a hilarious, quirky tale of these fluffy little creatures who get lost in a fantasy land. Therefore when I ordered 'Rasl' I was stupid enough to think that this might be yet another light hearted romp through an enchanted wood...how wrong I was!

'Rasl' is dark. Really dark. Rasl himslef has invented some kind of dimension hopping machine which he uses to steal art work to order. However, he is much more than a petty criminal. He is a complex, well developed character. An alcoholic. A man who has lost everything: his career, his girlfriend and his old life. As to how he has ended up in such a state, Smith masterfully drips us just enough infomation to keep us interested but leaves us hanging and desperate for the next installment (which is out when, Jeff? Not too long I hope!).

Packed with booze, girls, heady physics and a strange lizard man, 'Rasl' is truly unique. Not only that it demonstrates that Smith is much more than a one trick pony. As well as being a master cartoonist he is a master story tell and if this book is anything to go by 'Rasl' looks set to be better than even 'Bone'. And beleieve me, that is saying something!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A promising start, 21 May 2010
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Rasl Volume 1: The Drift (Paperback)
It must be a difficult challenge to follow your debut success, but perhaps even more so when you're talking about a long-running comic-book series. Jeff Smith must have been immersed in the world of Bone for, I don't know, ten years or more, so I'm sure the idea of moving on to something new and entirely different has got to have been a bit daunting. While it's early days, it does look like Smith has been able to make the transition fairly smoothly with Rasl.

The first episode of Rasl hits hard, Smith throwing the reader straight into a parallel universe where an unknown character with a device that allows him to "drift" between dimensions, is using his ability to commit art-thefts of alternative-world paintings by famous artists for unscrupulous clients. Actually, "drift" makes the transition sound a lot more smoother than it really is, the jumps taking a lot out of the young man making the crossings. The young man in question is Rasl, who we will discover was once a promising young scientist, but what has led him to become an outlaw isn't clear at this stage. All we know is that the people he has made an enemy of are called the Compound and, having finally found a way of chasing Rasl across dimensions, they have sent a ruthless lizard-looking assassin after him.

This edition, collecting the first three parts of the series into a large format, 112-page book, is an excellent introduction into Jeff Smith's new sci-fi/noir creation. It's a radical move away from the content of Bone (although in a perhaps unintentional parallel, one of the first characters Rasl meets in the Dylan-not-Dylan world, the President of the Street, bears an uncanny resemblance to the Dragon of Bone) towards a more mature style and content. The cover suggests a darker Paul Pope direction, but while Smith's artwork is more fluid here it's not as loose or as dark as Pope, coming closer to a David Lapham 'Stray Bullets' style that suits the more adult, real-world situation where it's already clear that our lead character is going to have some difficult choices to face. A very promising start.
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Rasl Volume 1: The Drift
Rasl Volume 1: The Drift by Jeff Smith (Paperback - 20 Jan 2009)
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