Baking instructions: add one cup of Riley Rossmo, artist of horror comic Green Wake, mix well with cup of acclaimed writer Alex Grecian, then let sit. Once the comic has risen add a touch of Rasputin, a Russian peasant, mystic, faith healer and private adviser to the Romanovs, and then we have a comic to read. Is it good?
Rasputin #1 (Image Comics)
What an odd comic, but considering Rossmo is involved I wasn’t surprised. The comic opens with Rasputin sitting at his dinner table with his good friends. As he sits a glass of red wine is being carried to him and we quickly learn that wine may be poisoned. Hm. There main feature of this issue is a flashback, at least I think it’s a flashback, and I won’t ruin that little adventure here, but needless to say it’s a mystical type of journey, surprises await and the art looks gorgeous.
Who’s that glowy dude?
This is a quick read, which is expected when 17 of the pages contain four words or fewer. That means a huge chunk of this story falls on the artist to make it compelling, interesting, and discernible. Rossmo does it in spades, as always, and there’s a heartfelt and compelling story at work here: a boy who witnesses abuse, makes a hard and fast choice and is forced to work splitting wood all the live long day. This is all bookended by an older Rasputin as he narrates about some friends that want him dead. There’s a reveal in the flashback however, that makes death not so scary for the man, and that’s pretty cool.
Grecian is building a compelling story here and all the right stuff is there from a character we can relate to and sympathize with, to a dramatic and pulse pounding bit of action. This all enhances the bookend piece and makes death laughable at best. A really cool concept is at work here and although this issue might confuse or frustrate some due to its lacking explanations — it should still pull most readers in.
Rossmo flipping rocks and that’s no lie. His work here is less chaotic as he’s done in issues past, with a much more honed down and simplistic look and feel. This aids in making the use of white space in the comic seem so damn cold. It’s lonely, it’s claustrophobic yet expansive and in a sense frightening. All the while Rossmo does’t use his customary flourishes of color and chaos to do so. This is a new Rossmo we’re seeing here, one that’s a bit more conventional, but for Rossmo not so much.
This can’t end well.
Is It Good?
A great first issue that begs you to want more by revealing little, but doing it all in a compelling way.
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