Review: RASL #3

by

Bending space just got a whole lot more interesting

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If you haven’t read the first two issues of Jeff Smith’s RASL, stop reading right now, call or visit your local comic shop, and beg your shop keeper to get you those precious issues.  Without them, your life is not complete.  Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating just a bit, but the fact remains, RASL proves that indie titles can be good, and sometimes even awesome.

rasl3cover.jpgOne of my main hang ups with the first two issues in this series was the lack of story progression.  Yes, we see what is happening, but there are so many unanswered questions, that the conclusion to issue #2 made me think I was stuck in a season of Lost – lots of action, very little reveal. The MacGuffin of a trying to find out who is chasing RASL quickly fades, when you ask yourself the question, “Just where did Rasl, get this wonderful machine that allows you to jump from one parallel dimension to the next?”   Thankfully Jeff Smith is ahead of the rest of us, as he not only answers that question, but reveals Rasl’s real name, and the person connected to that Maya tattoo on his arm.

I’m a big fan of Nikola Tesla, and I have been ever since first hearing his name and finding a bit about the genius that fell out of public knowledge for decades.  Whether it is a recent resurgence by the conspiracy crowd, or the fact that Tesla is finally getting the credit he deserves, Smith borrows from the Tesla myth to reveal the origin of the parallel universe jumping suit.  Seems Rasl (or Robert has is revealed in the flashback) used to work in a lab using Tesla technology to develop items of interest for the military.  We also discover he’s having an affair with his partner’s wife – Maya.

Before you think this is the issue where everything is revealed; don’t, as we don’t know how Robert went from a clean cut scientist, to a high tech thief on the run, but I’m liking how this issue’s flashback adds so much more depth to this story.  I don’t need all the details, but these little nuggets are enough to keep me entertained, and keep my mind from going, “Heeeeeey… there’s too many plot holes…”

Once again a lot of the narrative is presented to the reader in the form of Robert’s thoughts as he makes his jumps.  We find out that while certain things appear to be the same, there are subtle differences, like the world that had no Bob Dylan that kicked off the first issue. And as the story concludes one of Robert’s own questions is answered when it is revealed there is only one of him in the entire multiverse.

Let that sink in a moment.  How blown would your mind be if you discovered that of all the multiple worlds in all of the multiple existences, where everyone else exists (but perhaps leading different lives, or playing different roles), you are the only unique being.  Gets pretty trippy, and might even cause you to become a little coo-coo.

Of course we don’t find out Robert’s reaction to this information in this issue, as he has to quickly jump to another world in order to save the life (lives?) of those he cares most about.

If you are wondering if that is everything in the issue – it’s not.  I’m intentionally not filling in some of the Spoiler Holes just so you will go out and read the book.  And if you haven’t read the first two issues, you could probably jump right in with issue #3 as Jeff Smith repeats a lot of the information from previous issues.  This isn’t just a way to catch readers up to the story from an issue that last shipped many months ago, but also as a way for Robert to focus as he jumps from one world to the next.

I really hope Smith has this story plotted out all the way down the line, as I would hate to think he’s making all this up as he goes along.  While some moments in the last issue seemed to move at a snail’s pace, this issue clipped along in a real page turner of a story.  It probably also helped pacing to note that Smith is keeping the number of panels per page to a bare minimum.

Smith’s art continues to improve from the first issue, as he begins to get comfortable with his characters.  There were moments though, where I felt I saw hints of Bone and Shazam peak through in the art style.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it serves as a reminder, that yes, your collective memories have seen this artist before.

RASL is a definite indie title, as it is being distributed by Smith and company, but I really, really, wish he had completed the first six issues of the series before the first one hit the stands.  He has to know he has a legion of fans following his work, and although this is a more adult themed tale, he had to know RASL would sell well.  I say this because waiting three to four months between issues is just too damn long.  I found myself scratching my headfor the first two pages trying to remember what had happened before, and I’m just too lazy to get up and go rummaging around in my 20 plus long boxes to try and find the first two issues.  This is a series that needs to come out every month, or at the very least bi-monthly – quarterly titles are just too difficult to keep in the public’s mind, especially when it is being independently released.

Once again, I’m loving everything RASL has to offer readers.  Compelling story, interesting characters, art that isn’t mainstream – in short, wonderful.  If RASL would become a monthly, I’d give this issue the highest rating possible, but because it isn’t, RASL #3 gets a well deserved 4.5 out of 5 Stars.

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