Comic Book fans know Jeff Smith as the author and artist of the classiccomic book Bone. However, he surpassed that work with RASL, which was concluded in fifteen issues. With it, he created a must read.
Robert Joseph Johnson had it all. He was a top research scientist, young and a bachelor. Okay, he had an unfortunate affair with his best friend and research partner’s wife, but that didn’t stop either of them. What did stop the two was the St. George Project, a massive array of antennae following records and ideas by Nikola Tesla.
Today, Robert is known as RASL, art thief extraordinaire, who manages to even steal the most rare and exclusive paintings, such as those by Picasso. And strangely enough, the original owners never miss their paintings and even stranger, the paintings RASL delivers to his clients are always the originals.
The Secret: Turbines
RASL has a secret, you see. He stole some of the highly experimental research he had done with his best friend who died and can travel between dimensions using an array of portable turbines he can strap to his body. Every world is very similar to ours, sometimes RASL can’t tell the difference and sometimes, it’s just the fact that songs by Bob Dylan exist but weren’t sung by Dylan.
While travelling between dimensions causes him a lot of pain, it is the least of his problems. In the first of fifteen issues, a man with a weird face, who later introduces himself as Sal Crow, starts shooting at RASL.
This is the beginning of a story that merges real life history, alternate history, theology, both Christian and native American as well as good old science fiction. Coupled up with his minimalistic art that lives off of the very distinct faces his characters have, Jeff Smith creates a comic book that is definitely a must read.
The most beautiful thing about RASL is that there is no way that you can predict where the book is going. A small example.
There’s this creepy girl.
A man referring to himself as The President identifies her as God. Why? Nobody knows. What does she do? Being cryptic mainly. Why is that man The President? Because he once got 40 dollars to find a Jeep.
As disjointed as all this might seem, RASL does make perfect sense in the end.
Romance At the Speed of Light
RASL isn’t only a coherent and complex book on the levels of mystery, including science, conspiracy theory and history, but also in more human terms. If nothing else, RASL is a story about a man seeking punishment for betraying his friend, redemption and the quest to do the right thing. After all, there’s a reason RASL stands for Romance at the Speed of Light.
The cool thing? RASL isn’t new. The book concluded in 2012 and has been collected numerous times. So you can go get it. And, seriously, do get it. It’s absolutely worth it.