Books

Dimension Hopping

Getting Caught Up with—and in—Jeff Smith's RASL

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LARGELY THANKS TO BONE—Jeff Smith's phonebook of a fantasy that took the cartoonist 13 years to complete, and which is wholeheartedly beloved by every person who has ever read it—there's little doubt Jeff Smith is one of the best creators in comics. From his effortlessly expressive art to his clever dialogue and ambitious plotting, Smith's works represent the best that comics have to offer. Yeah, sometimes those works take a decade and a half to conclude, but that's no excuse not to jump into what's shaping up to be Smith's next great book: RASL.

It's a far cry from the exhilarating, all-ages Bone, but in all the right ways: RASL is gorgeous, creepy, grim, and crammed with action, history, sex, booze, science, and pseudo-science. Just a few issues in (the recently released RASL Volume 2 collects issues four through seven), the book is already a lot of things: an utterly unique love story. A noirish thriller starring a man who can jump between dimensions. A meditation on the weird legacies of Nikola Tesla. Like just about everything great, it's hard to explain RASL in a way that also does it justice.

In RASL's first collection, there wasn't a lot to grab onto; one had to have faith that Smith, in the long run, would take readers somewhere they wanted to go. With the issues collected here, he does just that. RASL's strange, emotional, brain-bending mysteries are a long way from being solved—but delving into them with Smith is already proving to be a hell of a ride.

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