Written by Jeff Smith to show his range following his 12-year fantasy/comedy epic Bone, RASL is an adult, film-noir-style sci-fi tale of a teleporting art thief. I love Bone, and so just seeing Smith’s art style again was enjoyable. He’s brilliant at pacing each panel well, and he loves to experiment with tricks that generally pay off for him. One scene in particular is great: two men fight in an entirely blackened room, lit only by random flashes from a gun firing.
Smith’s attention to detail — he spent two weeks in Arizona, to accurately draw the brush, deserts, and towns that make up the majority of the story’s backdrop — and his eye for unusual story elements keep his 15-issue comic series worthwhile.
I was a little annoyed that some things in Rasl’s world are never explained, particularly the little bug-eyed girl with strange powers, who claims to be God. But the story was hard-hitting, and though some of the plot twists were predictable, they were developed with taste and given their proper weight. Smith has a confidence in his material that allows him to take his time with it. Though it deals in topics like Tesla and parallel universes, RASL’s gritty atmosphere and somber, bittersweet emotions make it feel squarely in the noir genre.