rating: 5 of 5 stars
Jeff Smith returns to long-form comics after the success of Scholastic's Color Editions of Bone, with something quite different. It's a sci-fi noir tale, incorporating elements of Meso-American folklore, quantum physics and dimension travel and good old fashioned bad guys with guns. His protagonist is a hard-drinking art thief with a taste for the ladies, and the ability to travel dimensions to steal alternate world art.
With only three issues collected in this first collection, there's still a lot to be explored with RASL, and I suspect that we'll only know the true success/failure when we see the whole story completed. But Smith is clearly showing off his storytelling and art chops here, and if I were a betting man, I'd bet on this being another classic from one of the best cartoonists working in the medium.
The artwork is phenomenal. Smith's Bone was full of fantastic backdrops and characters, but RASL is set (more or less) in the real world, and a sleazy version of it, with back alleys, bars, etc. He's perfect at capturing this run-down world the hero has let himself fall into, and his character expressions and flawless action storytelling, displayed in Bone, are even more honed here.
The collection is oversized, which is great, because it really shows off the art. I continue to live in hope of a super-giant hardcover collection when it's all finished, at the enormous size that Smith printed his test run of the teaser comic in 2007, but if this is the best we get, it's still pretty good.
Fantastic stuff, and I'm completely enthralled and impressed so far.
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