So, even if you are not an avid comics reader, you may have heard of Bone. Bone was one of the most successful and long-running independent comic series of all time. And Bone‘s author, Jeff Smith, has a new(ish) series out called Rasl, which is amazingly and disturbingly brainy and trippy at the same time.
It’s going to be hard for me to explain to you what Rasl is about, because part of the reason I like it is that I really don’t entirely know what’s going on in the story. It’s a pretty fast-paced story, at least at the beginning. The main character, who goes by the handle Rasl, starts off blasting through space and dimensions, stealing art from one reality and selling it in another, and trying to shake this weird-looking dude named Sal from his trail. It’s apparent that Rasl is in love with a girl who he keeps visiting in different realities – sometimes she knows him and somtimes she doesn’t – and his attitude seems to indicate that something tragic happened to her or with her in his own reality.
Pretty early on, Rasl shows that he’s really intelligent, and he’s also obsessed with Nikola Tesla’s theories and plans. The reader even thinks he built his device that allows him to jump through time and space based on something he found or knows about Tesla’s research. All that jumping, though, it’s impossibly hard on his body, so he has hideouts all over the place where he can rest up between jumps, hiding from Sal when he’s in his weakest state. The truth does start to unfold, and tidbits come out that make the preceding confusing storylines start to make sense. And then, of course, more things are introduced into the story that make less sense that before…but the excitement of finding out what it all might mean in the future is tremendous.
Rasl is fast and gritty and science-y and weird and fascinating. It’s also nothing at all like Bone, so if you’re hoping this is somehow Smith’s continuation of that beloved story, you will be sorely disappointed. Rasl is not jokey or cutesy or cartoonish at all, though there are some fantastical themes (in a different way). If you’re intrigued by Tesla, love science fiction, or love a hard-boiled off-the-rails mystery, you’ll enjoy the story. And if you loved Bone for the artwork, you will NOT be disappointed by the art in Rasl, which is incredibly striking – not so cartoony as in Bone, but still amazing. This is not fluffy storytelling, but I promise the book is well worth your time.