This week a brand new series from Image Comics released, Rasputin. From Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo, the creative team from Proof, the series is based on the history and legend of Grigori Rasputin. Since the real history is so muddled and mixed with myth it’s an understandably interesting concept to tackle in a comic.
The issue’s title page reads that it’s “based on true-ish events” setting up that this is not precisely an entirely accurate re-telling of the man’s life, but one that’s not too far from the truth either. The story begins seemingly on the night of Rasputin’s death, according to his own narration. Very quickly we see that this series has a supernatural slant with what looks like an actual ghost in the room with him. Before we get much elaboration the comic jumps back in time as we meet Rasputin as a child, living in a small village in Siberia. The majority of the issue sticks with this flashback as we learn about his family and what he’s capable of.
The issue is unusually quiet for a comic book, there’s very little dialogue. That’s not a negative point per se, but it does make the issue quite a fast read. Thankfully though the artwork is gorgeous so even if there’s not a lot of text to read there’s some brilliant art to drool over. The best way I can describe it is a kind of scratchy storybookesque look. Characters are exaggerated and there’s a fantasy feel to the whole issue, helped by the powerful colours provided by Ivan Plascencia. It’s subtle but colour is a very strong presence in the book. Siberia looks absolutely freezing with icy blue shades, which makes the earthy tones of Rasputin’s hut look cosy and warm. It all adds to the atmosphere and the almost mythical nature of the story.
Although there’s very little dialogue I have to give a shout out to Thomas Mauer and his letting. As I mentioned there isn’t a lot of speech, or any writing, in the book but when it’s there it’s great. Rasputin’s narration is loose as if he’s handwritten it himself. Another great example is one I don’t want to spoil but I will say it’s a standoff between two characters, the way the text was done just nailed the gravitas of the situation and ups the tension.
All in all, Rasputin #1 is a strong opener. With lesser art it would be a harder recommendation being such a quick read, but the artwork is simply awesome and so is the storytelling. So sure it’s maybe not as meaty as some first issues, but everything combines into an ethereal and spooky mood that really sucks you in.