RASL, Pocket Book One

Jeff Smith, Cartoon Books, $17.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-8889-6324-3
In this collection of the adventures of dimension-jumping art thief RASL, Smith (Bone; Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil) has created a gritty graphic novel for mature audiences that is as captivating as its enigmatic hero. RASL is the tag of Dr. Robert Joseph Johnson, whose former career as a scientist working on classified projects at a military base called "The Compound" has been exchanged for one as an interdimensional art thief for wealthy clients. But his former employers won't leave him alone. RASL, a devotee of the work of engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla, possesses information which, in the wrong hands, could prove disastrous. Enter Sal, a lizard-faced assassin, who can "drift" through dimensions as RASL does, and so relentlessly pursues him into a variety of parallel dimensions. Though Smith is eminently competent at creating engaging dialogue, he is at his best in wordless action, where he shows a mastery of pacing as well as an ability to render his protagonist as fully human. The narrative moves back and forth through space and time in a manner that cleverly mirrors his hero's travels. Taken together, these elements form a stunning visual narrative that impresses with its originality, sophistication, and complexity. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/18/2010
Release date: 11/01/2010
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