Review: RASL #5

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So wonderful, and yet so frustrating.  That pretty much sums up my thoughts on Jeff Smith’s RASL #5, as I read the final page of the fifth issue.

rasl5cover.jpgFirst, the wonderful.

This issue is all about the relationship Rob has with all the women in his life.  There is parallel universe Annie, whom Rob saved at the cost of a threatening deal with Sal, the lizard faced baddie that Rob has been skirting since the series began.  While it appears Rob loves her, Annie is more concerned that Rob would rather toss her aside for one of her other selves in another universe.

Then there is Maya.  Readers once again get a glimpse into the romance the two had on the Earth Rob was originally from.  It’s clear the two have the hots for each other, but the fact Maya is married to Rob’s partner, continues to trouble his mind.  The relationship between Miles and Rob is also explained a little further here, as the two argue over the technology used to pop Rob from world to world.

There’s also the strange relationship between Rob and Uma – the current world’s Maya.  With the two hooking up at issue’s end, it’s really unclear what Rob wants out of the women in his life.  If it is a quick roll in the hay, then more power to him, but if he’s hoping to establish a lasting relationship, then there’s going to be some rough times ahead.

Also in the wonderful category is the next layer of the mystery that is Rob.  From the uncovering of some Tesla papers, to why his body looks like it is falling apart, I’m really digging on the backstory of this character, as it explains his current actions, and gives a possible hint of things to come.

Jeff Smith’s art is one of those things people are going to love or hate.  For this reviewer, the art falls into the the like realm.  There are times when the panel looks like it is about to erupt in chaos, and then there are other panels where everything comes back together and calms the reader down before the next scene change.

Now for the frustrating.

I know Jeff Smith works at his own pace.  I realize he’s releasing these issues at a quarterly rate to ensure he has time to get the next issue to the printers and released without falling behind, but dang if it doesn’t seem like an eternity between issue release.  There is an argument to be made that it builds anticipation for each issue, and those making that argument would be correct, as as soon as Smith posts the announcement on his blog that a new issue is being released, I do get excited about checking out the next chapter.

The other argument, and one that probably is more accurate of the situation is, “Now what happened last time?”  Considering many people are bagging, boarding, and locking the issues away forever, digging through a closet of long boxes to re-read to figure out what the heck is going on lessens that level of anticipation as it feels like I have to work for the enjoyment that the pages of RASL contains.

Once again, I’m willing to let the pros outweigh the cons of the issue, and relish every page of Smith’s work.  For those who haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, I’d suggest getting your hand on the first collected edition, and then read this one right after.  Rasl #5 is that good, and is worth the time and effort required to follow the series as it unfolds, earning the issue 4.5 out of 5 Stars.

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