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RASL Hardcover – September 17, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The debut volume of Bone creator Smiths new series is distinctly not for kids, but its gripping images and swift pacing are as impressive as anything hes done. In its first two chapters we meet Rasl, an art thief whos mixed up in some very weird circumstances: to make his getaways, he passes (painfully) through a sort of other-dimensional warp called the Drift, and sometimes he doesnt end up on the right version of Earth. Hes also got a mysterious gunman following him, a mysterious tattoo on his arm and a prostitute girlfriend with a mysterious necklace that displays a symbol of emergence. More even than Bone, Rasl is built around a few indelible images, like the agonized appearance of Rasl emerging from the Drift and the sinister grin of the strange-faced man whos following him; its a pretty minimal story so far (the book was reviewed from an incomplete galley), and Smith clearly knows more about the world hes building than he lets on. Still, his scrubby, rough-edged brushwork (showcased nicely by the books oversized format) gets across the storys foreboding, quiet moments as well as its chaotic chase scenes, and his knack for character design is always a treat. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her
“RASL is like nothing you’ve ever read--it’s electric, eerie and riveting;and as close as you get to a masterpiece. Smith is simply peerless.”

Booklist STARRED REVIEW
“Smith is a unique talent in the world of comics who’s not afraid to take risks and knows how to pull them off...fascinating.”

Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW
“Stunning visual narrative that impresses with its originality, sophistication, and complexity.”

John Geddes, USA Today
"Smith is awesome. There’s really no other way to put it...RASL reads like one long, dust-filled, sci-fi,blood-stained, crime noir chase scene.

Onion/AV Club
...”dazzling...demonstrates the same knack for arresting character design that made Smith’s Bone such a rewarding read...”

Village Voice
“...briskly paced hardboiled sci-fi hybrid...an inventive mix...”

Paste Magazine
“...audacious...a concentrated thrill.”

Portland Mercury
“RASL is gorgeous, creepy, grim, and crammed with action, history, sex, booze, science, and psuedo-science...a hell of a ride.”

Multiversity Comics
“...there is one simple truth in comic life: you must read Jeff Smith’s comics. It’s just the reality of the situation.”

Bill Baker, ForeWord Reviews
"Jeff Smith is perhaps the most accomplished cartoonist and storyteller of his generation, no small praise for an artist whose contemporaries include the likes of Alison Bechdel (Fun Home) and Chris Ware(Acme Library)... [RASL] offers universe-spanning adventure even as it explores those tender and terrible territories within the human heart."
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Product Details

  • Series: RASL
  • Hardcover: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Cartoon Books; 1St Edition edition (September 17, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1888963379
  • ISBN-13: 978-1888963373
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 8 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The ability to travel between different universes or between different dimensions of the same universe is a common plot element in speculative fiction. Multiple worlds not only boost the variety of settings that an author can depict, they also set up plot-enriching paradoxes, conflicts, and choices.

Most of the multiple-world works that I've read or watched present the worlds as an intrinsic and unexplained feature of the work's fictional universe. The Q Continuum of Star Trek: The Next Generation, for example, is an extradimensional plane of existence whose powerful, intelligent, and immortal inhabitants, the Q, can jump into our mundane plane to cause mischief. I've tried in vain to find a physical description of the Q Continuum.

But there are exceptions to the take-it-or-leave-it approach. In Ian McDonald's 2007 novel Brasyl, Hugh Everett's many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is not just an imaginative theory to account for the physically awkward notion of collapsing wave functions; it's also a description of how the world works.

Jeff Smith's comic-book series RASL goes further in exploring the physical basis of multiple worlds. Originally published in 15 black-and-white issues from February 2008 through August 2012, RASL was reissued this month in a single hardbound full-color volume. I read it in one sitting over Labor Day with much pleasure.

Like McDonald, Smith makes use of a speculative theory, in his case a unified field theory that the elderly Nikola Tesla claimed in 1937 to have completed. RASL`s main character, a researcher named Robert Johnson who later assumes the name RASL, gains access to Tesla's lost notebooks. In one of them, he finds the unpublished theory expounded in full.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I discovered Jeff Smith's Bone a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Acquiring every volume in the series, I ended up making Bone addicts out of my kids, too. So I was thrilled when Smith's RASL was announced to be issued in a single hard-bound volume. The storytelling, characters, and visual style are are 100% Smith. The reader is taken on an interdimensional race for the protagonist to protect the people and values he holds most dear. Surprisingly, the novel also stands as a historical testimony to the greatness of Tesla. Much of the novel is devoted to recounting the highs and lows of the troubled scientist's life. Smith's passion rivals that of "The Oatmeal," both of whom could likely raise sufficient support to see a resurrection of Tesla's life work.

Unfortunately, due to RASL's interactions with prostitutes and other unsavory characters, this is a novel I can only recommend to my peers and will need to be kept safe from my young kids' innocent eyes.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I loved Jeff Smith's "Bone" comics. They were wonderful, and plenty of praise has been heaped upon them and Mr. Smith (and rightly so.)
"RASL" is a vastly different story in just about every respect. The tone is dark and dreary. It's the story of a man who has been driven to desperation and criminal acts in an attempt to escape a mistake he has made. Unfortunately, unlike Bone, I did not find myself lost in the world of "RASL". The story starts out intriguing, but ultimately it fizzles out. The ending feels rushed, and I feel like I will forget it entirely in a matter of months. I hope Mr. Smith's next project will be more up to the standards of his amazing "Bone" story.

It also bears mentioning, this is not a book for children, unlike "Bone". There is a lot of violence and mature themes, not to mention sex and foul language. I would not recommend this for anybody under 14.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jeff Smith first comic book Bone was a silly classic Lord of Rings like Adventure. RASL is a hard boiled noir tale.
I picked up the individual black and white comics while the series was being published.
However, the complete collection is in color which adds a nice "POP" to the story, you really get that sense of the Arizona Desert.
The binding is very nice and so is the dust jacket. Looks like a real nice fun book. Many guest thumb through it on my coffee table.
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Format: Paperback
Anyone expecting "Rasl" to be anything like Jeff Smith's graphic-novel epic "Bone" is going to be really, really disappointed.

But taken by itself, it is a thoroughly solid graphic novel experience, and obviously the start to a very unusual sci-fi story. Though brief, "Rasl Volume 1: The Drift" introduces us to a very unusual thief who has uncovered a strange new power. Too bad someone's about to cause him trouble because of it.

Rasl was once an eminent scientist, but is now a master thief. He makes his getaways using the Drift: using a couple of engines, he can transport himself from one parallel world to another. But after one heist, he ends up in the wrong parallel universe -- and a strange lizardy man attacks him, making Rasl realize that someone is pursuing him.

Once he's gotten back to the right world, he stumbles into the arms of his prostitute lover Anne, who says he's never looked this bad before. But when Anne is murdered, Rasl sets out to the Compound -- and a bucketload of old memories -- to discover who the lizardy man is, and who is hunting him through all the different worlds...

"Rasl" is in many ways the opposite of Smith's prior work -- it's low on dialogue (whole pages go by in complete silence), the art is spare and sharp-edged as the deserts Rasl wanders in, and the entire collection is redolent of dusty roads, lonely nights, lost loves and a sense of paranoia that keeps you looking over your shoulder.

Admittedly this first collection is brief -- only three issues long -- and the first part is a rather slow-moving affair.
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