RASL: THE DRIFT should come with some kind of warning, something that would let the reader know right away that this comic is extremely addictive, a fun mystery/thriller with a great hook --- and that the next installment in the series won’t come out until March 2009.
A wait that long is just too unfortunate. Coming from the brilliant mind of Jeff Smith, creator of Bone, Rasl marks Smith’s return to serialized comic fiction, and it’s a treat. Smith paces stories with a deliberate purpose, never revealing too much at a time. Hopefully, then, Rasl will unfold over a lengthy period of time. It’s so good that it deserves to stick around for a long time to come --- but hopefully without so much of a wait in between installments. It is published as a monthly, normal-sized comic book, but in RASL: THE DRIFT, it gets the oversized treatment --- all the better for enjoying the artwork and getting lost in the story.
Here’s the basic premise: Rasl is a high-priced thief who travels between dimensions to steal expensive art. He utilizes a special suit to open up something called The Drift, which he uses to navigate to parallel universes. Unfortunately, The Drift takes its toll on him, rendering him sick and a little helpless when he emerges on the other side. Not to mention confused: Where and when he reappears is not exactly up to him, so finding out which type of earth he has landed on takes some detective work. (Smith has fun playing with this in a clever way; one clue Rasl notices on a strange world is a CD in a bar jukebox by Bob Zimmerman --- instead of Bob Dylan.)
After completing one of his jobs, Rasl runs into someone who is after him --- a spooky-looking killer. Rasl goes on the run and gets further into the craziness of The Drift, or at least the craziness of the alternate universes he stumbles into. It should probably be noted that, unlike Bone, which had such broad appeal and was suitable for readers of all ages, Rasl is aimed at adults, with some graphic themes and sexual content.
Nice touches abound throughout the book. Smith teases readers with hints about Rasl and his backstory. A quote from Nikola Tesla about the static and kinetic nature of energy throughout the universe opens the book and hints at where Smith will be going in the future. It’s intriguing and full of promise.
Smith doesn’t waste much time getting into the story. Three issues in, we know very little about Rasl, his life, his work, or The Drift itself, but it’s enough for now. There’s plenty of room for Smith to expand his story in here, and the richness of the content is not lost on the reader. It’ll be nice when so much of the story has been written that several of the books can be collected, and the story can be enjoyed in a lengthy reading session.
Reviewed by John Hogan on January 23, 2011
Rasl: The Drift