Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Review: RASL #14

With the end in site, Jeff Smith's science fiction tale has more twists and turns than a Tesla generator. This penultimate issue doesn't even come close to wrapping the story up, but it's completely clear that Smith has total control and knows exactly how things will pan out. second last issue or not, we get everything we've come to expect from an issue of RASL - plenty of action, not a small amount of intrigue, a healthy dose of science and of course Smith's beautiful and emotive art.

the issue begins with a tense showdown between RASL and nemesis Sal Crow, as RASL tries to sabotage the Tesla inspired technology responsible for inter-dimensional mayhem. Normally at this stage I'd bring out the old cliche that 'things don't go according to plan', but the beauty of this book is that you're not really sure what the plan is to begin with. In fact there is a very good chance that the events of the issue were part of RASL's plan all along. Everything is here: There's action, violence, warping dimensions, romance, good guys, bad guys and that always interesting shade of grey in between. Characters are a great strength of Smith's, and the past 14 issues have allowed the audience to build a real affinity with the increasingly complex title character, as well as a healthy dislike for the antagonist.

Smith's art is, of course, brilliant. A veteran of visual storytelling, he can create so much power and emotion from a single panel. He varies his line thickness perfectly, and uses the simple black and white contrasts to create great tone and texture. There's a scene in a blacked out bar between RASL, Sal and RASL's lover Uma that really shows Smith's skill with not only the pencil, but the ink brush as well.

If you've been following the series, I doubt you'd miss this issue anyway. If you've never picked up an issue, go out and grab the first trade. It's a twisting story of love, loss and Nikola Tesla.

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