Some answers and a few problems

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If you forgot Rasl #4 hit stores this week, you probably aren’t alone.  It’s been six months since issue #3 graced the shelves, so it is understandable if your brain blocked the issue from your memory.  However, if you didn’t pick up the issue, you are missing out on some juicy new tid-bits of information that will make the conspiracists chatter for months.

rasl4cover.jpgAttempting to stop Sal from killing again, Rasl successfully uses his dimensional jumper, to catch up to the salamander looking villain.  During their scuffle, Sal realizes that there are many flaws in Rasl’s design, and deduces that each jump is killing the scientist-thief.  Readers also discover the reason Sal has been tracking the hero; the people he works for have concluded the only way Rasl can know the things he knows, is if he had access to two Navy journals that describe the extended tests the military did following the original Philadelphia Experiment, and they want them.

Finally, more than a full year later, readers are starting to see the pieces falling into place and how Robert Joseph Johnson fits into the big picture.  But it is still unclear as to why Sal and his bosses want Rasl’s journals, when it is quite apparent their technology is superior.  But that will have to wait until later, as Robert is given a 48-hour reprieve to collect the books and turn them over, or Sal will begin killing the other Annies (that’s Rasl’s girlfriend for those who forgot) on all the other worlds out there.

While there is a lot of standing around going on in this issue, the exposition is needed in order to keep reader interest.  It may be due to Sal being from a different dimension, but for some reason the dialogue from this character comes off rather abrupt and forced, rather than flowing naturally. That would be the only minor issue I have with the actual issue itself.

Jeff Smith’s art continues to shine in this series, and the further we move through the series, the more it is clear his art style has evolved for the better from his Bone days.  Whether it is the creepiness of Sal, or the strange little girl that looks like the Kodama from Princess Mononoke, or the battered and bloodied face of RASL, the intensity in each panel draws the reader ever deeper into the story.

My biggest problem with RASL is once again the release schedule.  I know doing everything yourself take a great deal of time, but when the last issue was released back in October, it’s a sure bet the title is going to drop off the radar of many readers who use the pull list system to pick up their comics.  If it wasn’t for my comic supplier knowing what I want, I would have missed this issue completely.  I don’t know how far ahead Jeff Smith is on this series, but if he has plenty of issues under his belt, he really needs to consider going to a bimonthly release instead of once every six months.
Even if Smith decides to stick with his original quarterly release schedule, it would be better to include more than 32 pages of content. Granted the book is already longer than most other issues being put out, but each issue reads so quickly, that the pleasure I get seems rather anti-climactic when I’m done in less than 15 minutes.

Still, I’d rather have 15 minutes of pleasure than nothing at all.  And RASL continues to deliver a tale that continues to add to the story, while adding on layer upon layer of unanswered questions.  Jeebus help us if Jeff Smith is ever asked to write for ABC’s Lost, as the conspiracy theories and plot lines cooked up would probably cause some heads to explode.  Until RASL #5 arrives, readers will have to be content with reading and rereading the four issues released soaking up every bit of this 4 Star goodness.

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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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