Stealing art and dimension jumping for fun and profit
When I first saw Jeff Smithâ€™s cover for RASL #1, I must say I was less than impressed with what was coming from the Bone creator. Then slowly but surely I began to hear rumors that this was going to be a great series. Then low and behold, the first issue arrived at my doorstep a few weeks ago and I got to find out what all the hullabaloo was for myself. They say you canâ€™t judge a book by its cover, and Iâ€™m going to have to agree.
This isnâ€™t your normal fun and furry Jeff Smith book. RASL is the story of an art thief who pulls heists by leaving the letters RASL spray painted where the art used to be. Itâ€™s not clear if RASL is the characters name, an acronym, or something else all together. While thievery could lead to an interesting story (especially if Brosnan or Zeta-Jones are involved), what really makes RASL a book you should take notice of is the method the lead character uses to elude his captors.
A device that pops him into a place called The Drift, where he can hang out until the heat dies down, at which point he returns home.
Seems like one heck of a way to score a few bucks.
Things seem to go smoothly until the our hero discovers a juke box playing a Bob Dylan album that isnâ€™t credited as Bob Dylan, but rather Robert Zimmerman – thatâ€™s right kids, he isnâ€™t on the right world. Somehow during his jump he ended up in the wrong place. And thatâ€™s not a good thing, especially when a salamander faced boogeyman comes out of nowhere and opens fire narrowly missing the lead.
Thereâ€™s a good chase scene that ensues, and the hero does make his escape, but not before more questions go unanswered. Who are the people following him? Why does this guy look so creepy? How did the lead end up in another world? And how did his pursuers follow?
The idea of the Drift and multiple worlds isnâ€™t anything new for average readers of a certain other comic company – only we know them as the Bleed and the Multiverse. What makes RASL a different type of crisis, is the nature and method the lead gets into the Drift, and the pain and energy it extracts when returning. I rather like the idea of having to become centered in order to make the jump into the Drift, and it tickles me to discover getting drunk helps take the edge off returning to the world. But how many worlds are there, and how will the hero return to where he belongs?
As you can tell, there are a lot of unanswered questions in this first issue, but with several more to go, I think those holes will be filled rather nicely by Smith. If everything were handed to us in a nice package with a pretty ribbon on top, the story would probably not be the brilliant piece of writing and art that it is RASL.
I like Smithâ€™s ability to jump us forward and backward in the story so we donâ€™t know what is taking place now, what happened in the past, and what is going on in the future. More than likely, most reading RASL have had a dose or two of LOST, which helps in understanding the story. The dialogue and inner monologue is kept to a minimum, but even with a few words per page – or in the case of the chase scene, no words at all, Smith is really telling the story through the art.
Keeping with what worked before, RASL is a black and white comic, and that is just fine by me. I think the nature of his characters and the surroundings would get lost if color were thrown into the mix.
We still have many more issues to go before the mystery of RASL is unraveled, and if the first issue is any indication, this is going to be one heck of a series. Iâ€™m giving RASL #1 5 out of 5 Stars.