And Then I Read: RASL Volume 4 by Jeff Smith

RASLvol4Image © Jeff Smith.

This is the finale of the story that’s taken some time, and four collections to tell, and a very satisfying one. Jeff Smith has deliberately gone in a very different direction from his BONE for this series, and it has paid off for this reader. The story is told in a film noir style, grim and gritty, terse dialogue, suspense, sex and sly trickery. Add to that a science fictional theme of alternate realities opened up by the discovery of lost notebooks of maverick science pioneer Nikola Tesla. The main character, called RASL by some, begins to explore these worlds and steal artwork from them, but he’s soon pursued by the guy seen above, who also has the world-hopping technology. The girl — there’s always a girl in these stories — has different personas on different worlds, but all are somehow involved with or attracted to RASL. Then there’s the massive project in the desert also using Tesla’s lost knowledge to try to create weaponry and energy, but things are going all wrong.

It’s a complex story told with deceptively simple and appealing art, and Smith fills us in on some of his research in each collection. It reads like a great 1940s-50s film combining the paranoid science fiction of, say, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” with, perhaps, “The Maltese Falcon.” Great stuff and highly recommended!

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