cover image RASL


Jeff Smith. Cartoon (Diamond, dist.), $39.95 ISBN )978-1-888963-37-3

The complete run of Smith’s (Bone; Shazaam: The Monster Society of Evil) previously serialized black-and-white noir SF adventure is collected in full color for the first time. Dr. Robert Joseph Johnson, an experimental physicist and Tesla fan, has discovered the secret to leaping in and out of parallel dimensions—something he uses to become art thief RASL when his partners and governmental employers endanger the multiverse with their experiments. Tracked by a lizard-faced government agent, RASL has to navigate multiple worlds to determine just what is worth saving. The subdued tone of the full-color sections perfectly fits the gritty style of the story. Wordless action sequences show Smith’s mastery of pacing, while his witty dialogue and quieter art reveal the fully human side of his protagonists. RASL is a brilliant antihero, at once hard to love and deeply worthy of empathy. As in his earlier work, Smith uses symbolism and mythology—as well as the legendlike history of real-world scientist Nikolai Tesla—to drive a personal story of love and vengeance into a deeper tale of heroism and self-sacrifice. And it’s Smith’s greatest skill that he makes us care so much about everything in the story. (Reviewed from an incomplete galley.) (Sept.)