Last month saw the end of Jeff Smith’s series RASL, a comic about a scientist-turned-drifter who hijacks an invention allowing him to cross over to different dimensions. RASL began in 2008 and slowly accrued a cult-like following as the issues were released in a relatively slow manner. Originally a triannual series, Jeff Smith eventually decided to change up the format until it became bi-monthly, reaching its conclusion with issue 15.
Where to start with the end of the series? In my case, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet that it’s over. 4 years is a long time to collect a comic, especially when the wait in between issues is so long. I couldn’t bring myself to read the last two installments until last night.
My first reaction to the climax of RASL was confusion. Some things are squared away, for example, it’s revealed finally what RASL stands for. As it turns out, it was pretty clearly hinted at early in the series, but I guess I missed the connection until now. I’ll reserve my judgments though until I go back and revisit the issues leading up to the end. I have the overwhelming feeling that I missed something somewhere.
Since so many people have yet to discover RASL, I’ll avoid giving away plot details, except to say, expect the unexpected. The last two issues contained a number of twists and small shocks, but at the same time frustrated fans like myself by not explaining some of the series’ mysteries. In fact, the final issue (15) contained very little dialogue, opting instead for a more cinematic approach.
The reason for the cinematic style of the conclusion is pretty clear. Jeff Smith has already stated there’s a movie of RASL in the works, and the film’s development was part of Smith’s plan for years. When the RASL movie will be released is unclear, and I’ve heard no news on who it’ll star or who will be directing it, but if the series is any indication of how the movie will be, then we definitely have something to look forward to.
One of the best things about RASL is that it wasn’t afraid to come to a conclusion. So many comics have no endgame in mind, and basically drag on and on until the fans peter out and the books are canceled. RASL from the get-go was intended to be fairly short, with Jeff Smith announcing long ago it’d be 15 or 16 issues in length. What that means is we’re given a series with a beginning, middle, and end, while other comics feel like they’re stuck in the middle phase for years.
So far, RASL has been reprinted in two different formats: an oversized format true to Jeff Smith’s intentions, and conveniently slimmed down editions that fit nicely on shelves and were very likely designed with libraries in mind. Hopefully, now that it’s all over, we can expect a thick omnibus edition to come out containing the entire 15 issue arc.
RASL is a series that will gain more fans now that it’s over. For the past 4 years, RASL has been the comic book store’s best kept secret, but with a movie on the way, it’ll gain more fans than it ever had during its initial run, a fate it shares in common with Jeff Smith’s other classic Bone.
Of course, one nagging question still lingers in the air: what next?
For more articles, follow me on Facebook.
What was your opinion of the conclusion to RASL?