Reviews

Comic Review – Rasputin #2

Rasputin #2 cover image
  • Script – Alex Grecian
  • Art – Riley Rossmo
  • Colors – Ivan Plascencia
  • Letters – Thomas Mauer
  • Publisher – Image Comics

 

If you’re a big fan of brawling, you’re going to love Rasputin #2. From the eye-catching cover to the story inside, our titular character pretty much spends every other panel as either the puncher or the punched.

As in last issue, Rasputin #2 opens in the final moments of the titular man’s life. After being poisoned by his compatriots, they decide he needs a good ol’ kicking. Haunted by the looming spectre of his impossibly thick father, we follow Rasputin down memory lane as he begins to explain how he got into this nasty situation.

Writer Alex Grecian continues his restrained approach in this second issue. The meat of the issue consists of that aforementioned bar-room brawl, which unfolds for five whole pages in absolute silence. Rossmo’s loose and fluid style really makes you believe that the lithe and crafty Rasputin could beat a hundred muscle-bound meatheads, whilst colorist Ivan Plascencia mixes it up with varying shades of skin tone for the colorful and unique cast. The fact that Grecian trusts Rossmo to sell the scene almost by himself is the sign of a creative team at peak strength. This is a group of creators who are more than aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, which only adds to the book’s quality. Less confident writers would have filled those dynamic panels with grunts, crashes and clumsy narration, but Grecian steps back for a second to let Rossmo and Plascencia really sell the action sequence. Rasputin #2 graveyard.

Rossmo absolutely packs each panel with detail; every little background face is distinctive, no matter how inconsequential they are to the overall narrative. Another of Rossmo’s strengths is his fantastic sense of place. Each change in scene is announced by a breathtaking double-splash page. In the first, Rasputin mournfully drops flowers at the site of his parents graves. Once again, letterer Thomas Mauer dominates the entire top half of the page with a clean and translucent font announcing the place, whilst Plascencia shades the spectre of Rasputin’s father in a sickly green; each disparate element coming together to form a beautifully haunting scene. The second double splash is dedicated to an accurate depiction of the Nikolay Monastery in Verkhoturye, Russia. Whilst I admit that spending two whole pages on a simple establishing shot may not be the most economical use of page space in the world, the result is positively frame-able.

Rasputin #2 bar fight.Once again, the story is relatively simple. Grecian seems to be dedicating each issue to an important person in Rasputin’s life; last issue was dedicated to his father, and this issue is focused on introducing Antoine Dulac, who so far appears to be a kind of brother-in-arms for our hero. He’s your standard swashbuckler; a grinning and enigmatic Errol Flynn-alike. After an errant gunshot sends Antoine to death’s door, it’s up to Rasputin to use his nifty healing powers to save the day. As in the first issue, Rossmo chooses to dedicate Rasputin’s powers to yet another splash-page. He just about gets away with it.

Special mention goes to the lurid cover, which depicts a young Rasputin as he stands atop an angry pyramid of testosterone, with a bottle in one hand and the other balled into a fist. The flat white and blacks of each character stands out magnificently against the deep red background in this obvious homage to soviet propaganda.

Rasputin #2 follows the blueprint set by the first issue pretty much to the letter. Riley Rossmo’s art is still gorgeous and Alex Grecian’s almost-silent script is once again a breath of fresh air in modern comics, although this does mean the issue is a little too much of a quick read.

 

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About the author

Oscar Maltby

A full-time father and a long-time writer for the British Small Press comics scene, Oscar Maltby is turning his hand to comic book journalism. His scripts have been featured in numerous UK comic books, including the Eagle Award-nominated anthology Futurequake.

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