“RASPUTIN” #1 (Comic Review)Book and Comic Reviews,Books/Art/Culture,News Svetlana Fedotov
Of all of the powerful men to have graced human history, none have been more esoteric and mysterious as Grigori Rasputin. Part mystic, part political advisor, all beard, Rasputin’s life and much questioned death has become the go-to story point for authors who wish to add a bit of dark villainy into their plot. Yet, despite his appearance in works such as HELLBOY and HELLBLAZER, he’s yet to tell his side of the story. Until now.
With the release of RASPUTIN from Image Comics, readers can finally get a glimpse at the madness of his life (with a few embellishments, of course) and his rise to be one of the most powerful men in the last few years of the Russian aristocracy. Though minimally worded and ending abruptly, what the comic lacks in dialogue it makes up for in beautifully colored artwork, creating a visual trip not easily forgotten.
Opening up on a dark room in a dark castle filled with some very dark personalities, Rasputin is seen sitting among his advisors, awaiting his last meal. Though never formally announced, he knew his death was coming in the form of poison and betrayal, and as he raises his glass to his lips, he reflects on the moments that have led to his demise. We see flashbacks: a child with an overbearing father and a hopelessly devoted mother, a victim of violence and the harsh reality of life; growing up in the cold of Siberia, Gregori develops some interesting powers and as the tension between him and his father builds to a crescendo, he makes a choice that will alter his life forever.
RASPUTIN sees the reunion of writer Alex Grecian and artist Riley Rossmo, who previously worked together on horror-hit PROOF. Unlike that book’s over-the-top horror elements, here Grecian opts for a more subtle, creeping terror, using Rasputin’s legacy to speak for him. His choice to craft a nearly silent comic works beautifully, especially in the cold winter of Rasputin’s childhood reflection, working with the subtle nuances of memory and the particulars we as humans choose to filter out. He lets the wide open spaces of Siberia and the dark, enclosed walls of Rasputin’s castle tell the story while letting the reader fill in the rest.
Of course, such a monumental idea could have easily fallen apart with the wrong artist, but Rossmo’s talents help RASPUTIN move stunningly from page to page. He masterfully blots and scratches the pages with his heavy inks, while still maintaining the proper atmospheres between the present and the past. Even his large splash pages play well; a place where form and atmosphere overrides immediate action as he chooses to use the available pages more for meditative reflection than a panorama of violence… though there is a wicked man vs. bear fight.