AUTHOR/ARTIST: Jeff Smith
PLOT: Man crosses dimensional boundaries in metaphysical quest.
Parallel universe-hopping hero RASL leads awestruck readers on a mind-bending journey through secret science and mysticism, quantum mechanics and mythology, history and science-fiction – all between the pages of this lushly gorgeous full-color graphic novel. The book, name the same as its protagonist, is gripping, startling and brilliantly original.
Author-artist Jeff Smith is one of the best cartoonists working today. His comics and graphic novel creations are second-to-none. He might have equals, but he’s got no superiors. I was first blown away by Smith’s monumental talent via his fantasy epic Bone, which completed the astounding feat of seamlessly dropping Sunday funny papers type characters in a world of stylized semi-realist settings and characters with their own dollop of cartoon components.
I could keep waxing eloquent about Bone, but this is about RASL. Where Smith’s Bone epic was a mammoth, page-turning slab of unique fantasy (one of the best fantasy novels you’ll ever read, graphic or prose), RASL is a more concise but conceptually just-as-epic piece of one-of-a-kind, head-twisting, hard-boiled sci-fi actioner with a mile-wide noir streak.
Smith’s astounding ability to mix frothy frivolity with grimness and heady themes applies just as well to RASL as it has to Smith’s other works (including Smith’s current and ongoing TUKI: Save the Humans, a prehistoric hominid adventure!). Here, he abandons Bone’s linearity and tells a tale out of sequence and out of our world but with smartly balanced storytelling that creates a suspenseful, coherent story arc.
If this were made into a movie, it would be an intersection of David Cronenberg and David Lynch.
RASL is an onion: (A) in storytelling layers of blindingly lucid hypercomplexity; (B) in its shockingly smooth holographic overlap of Native American mythology, quantum physics, parallel universes, speculative science and historical science (including tales of Tesla and other science figures); (C) in its shifting through different iterations of characters (see Lynch comment, above) manifesting across universe boundaries; etc.
Smith is as masterful an artist as he is a teller of tales. His work is never short of remarkable in its originality. RASL is an attention magnet, defying you not to finish the whole damn thing in a single sitting. It is, as can be said of other works of Jeff Smith, one of the best graphic novels you’ll ever read.
Visit Cartoon Books at www.Boneville.com.
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