Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
on 7 June 2009
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.