By Jeff Smith

Back in the early 1990s I discovered Jeff Smith’s Bone. But I wasn’t the only one, it stands as one of the biggest independent success stories of all time. It was a charming and cute little book that broke demographics, appealing to all ages. The book ended in 2004, and other than a few books like the Shazam mini-series Smith did for DC, he’s been pretty quiet… until now.

I didn’t know what to expect from Jeff Smith’s Rasl. I thought it might be another book in the same vane as Bone, but the first page quickly dispelled that notion. Rasl’s premise is quite interesting. He’s an art thief who possesses an odd machine that can warp him into a pocket dimension known as “The Drift”. This pocket dimension acts as a hiding place for him until the coast is clear.

There’s no back story on how Rasl’s acquired this machine or how it works, but judging from what I’ve read, it’s probably safe to assume that he either stole it or just stumbled upon it. This, “Drift” or alternate dimension he escapes to is largely unknown. What Smith does tell us is that it’s easy going in, but painful coming out. So painful, that Rasl needs a variety of drinks and cigarettes to calm his nerves after returning to the real world. The kicker to this first issue is that while he manages to come back from his latest heist, things are seemingly different in the world around him. This is the mystery of Rasl’s story.

I’ll admit it, Rasl came in under my radar this week. I just happened to see it on the shelf and decided to give it a shot. I’m glad I did, too. The premise, while nothing new, is engaging and it gives way to a lot of curiosity (not to mention a bevy possibilities). Smith’s art is sharp and clean, while not being overly cartoony in style. My only reservation is that the issue reads very quickly. Don’t get me wrong here, it’s not decompressed at all. Normally, I wouldn’t have a problem with a book paced this quickly, but having to wait until May 2008 for the next issue is madness! (Grade: B+)

– J. Montes