In some ways Jeff Smith’s new comic RASL is diametrically different from his legendary work on Bone. Where Bone was a G-rated fantasy adventure that can comfortably be sold to elementary school students, RASL is definitely an adult comic book. In issue two of RASL, there is adult language, sex scenes, bloody violence, and even a scene set inside a strip club.
But below the surface, there are real similarities between the two series. It’s clear from the first two issues of this new series that there are major stories right below the surface. RASL has the ability to transverse between universes, using his amazing skills to do nothing more than rob artwork from rich people. We have some small clues into how RASL is able to perform this amazing skill, but very little is spelled out at this time. It’s reminiscent in form to the early issues of Bone, except that instead of three cute creatures, we have a well-endowed extra-dimensional thief.
Everything in RASL’s world seems mysterious. How exactly does he pass through dimensions? Who is the strange man following him? How many different parallel dimensions are there? And what is the story between Maxwell’s mysterious equations that allow RASL to use his amazing abilities?
Readers can trust Jeff Smith to reveal everything in a satisfying way. After all, he has a great track record of doing just that. And right there is another clear similarity between Bone and RASL.
Artwise, Smith’s work is similar between the two works. His work on this book is dark and has a harder edge to it, but that too is reminiscent of his work in the final, intense, issues of Bone. Smith definitely has an approach to his work that emphasizes the humanity of his characters — readers can really sense the intensity of the relationship between RASL and his friend Annie in this issue.
RASL is a bold and intriguing new series from master creator Jeff Smith. It’s diametrically different from his classic work on Bone, but that’s part of what makes this book so intriguing. To this point, there are many questions and few answers. I can’t wait to see where this great storyteller moves this story.