What do a lonely drifter with a bloody nose and a penchant for stealing artwork, a gun toting lizard man, and Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla have in common? Not much, at first glance. Until you pick up Jeff Smith’s amazing, mind-bending, and addictive series Rasl.
When the series starts, the eponymous hero Rasl (or Robert… it isn’t really clear which is his real name, actually) realizes that he’s being chased by a violent, gun toting lizard man. And if this wasn’t bad enough, the lizard man is able to follow him as he jumps from one parallel universe to another…
Oh, I’m sorry. Did I not mention that all of the action takes place between several different parallel universes?
It is difficult to discuss the finer points of Rasl without giving too much away, so if the description sounds a bit confusing and opaque, it’s for your own good. Because this is a series that is best when you know as little as possible going into it.
But, for those of you who need a little more to chew on, may we offer you the tiniest of morsels to whet your appetite (NOTE: To those who trust our judgment that you should just go out and read every single issue of this series and want absolutely no hint of what this series is about before diving in, STOP HERE).
Imagine a world where Bob Dylan isn’t Bob Dylan. That is to say, he looks the same, sounds the same, and even sings the same songs, but his name is different. Are you in the same world? Or is it a parallel universe where only one or two things are different, but everything else is the same? And if you are in a parallel universe, how many other parallel universes are there?
Now, what if you were able to harness the power of electromagnetism and channel it in such a way that you could travel from one parallel universe to the next, like stepping through a door? Would it affect you physically? Would it affect your morals? And does what happens in one universe affect the others?
All of these are questions posed in book one of the series. Some are answered, and others lead to even more questions. Rasl is a rabbit hole of intrigue that gets more and more enticing the further down you fall.
A great deal of that enticing quality comes from the tone of the series. It has a serious “noir” feel to it. The main character is a misunderstood genius loner who has a love he’s lost, a secret he’s keeping, and a man who’s hunting him. It’s easy to get wrapped up in Rasl’s tale and it’s even easier to understand his pain the more backstory you learn.
And Smith has totally done his homework on the science front, too. The research he used to create the science fiction here is so detail oriented, you’ll be rushing to Wikipedia for reference points on every other page. And the case is made so convincingly of the “conspiracy” that is at the core of this story, you’ll be looking over your shoulder for trenchcoat wearing lizard men for days.
So, if you’re a fan of either noir-style mysteries or time and space jumping science fiction, this paranoid thriller is for you. Start with Rasl Pocket Book One published by Cartoon Books. You won’t be able to put it down. Or sleep for days.
What would you do if you could travel to parallel universes?