Review - Rasputin #1

"For instance, tonight I'm going to be murdered by my closest friends in the world."

As far as historical characters go, Rasputin is definitely among the most recognized. The man was perceived to be imbued with supernatural powers which he used for all manner of activity. With that reputation came a lot of fear and misunderstandings, some of which likely lead to the rather brutal attempts on his life. Delving deeper into the character is on the docket for Rasputin #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Alex Grecian, illustrated by Riley Rossmo, colored by Ivan Plascencia and lettered by Thomas Mauer.

Rasputin's life is definitely tumultuous, as evidenced by the numerous attempts on his life. That life is still based on something though and it's looking back on his youth that gives the readers insights into his current predicament. In one night Rasputin was poisoned, beaten, stabbed, shot in the head, drowned, then tied up and thrown in a frozen river. It was really bad timing. His beard was just coming in nicely.

Where Rasputin #1 excels is in presenting facets of the character to the reader that improves their understanding of his reputation. Grecian does a fine job of this, introducing Rasputin in the present (aware of his impending death) and then flashing back to his youth. Living in a snow-covered countryside is hard enough on its own, but factor in an abusive father and a strange ability to heal things and life gets a little more complicated. It's these features of Rasputin that are probably the most well-known and it's likely they're also going to make him a target as an adult. And the fact that much of his situation as a youth is depicted with little to no dialogue is very impressive, as there are subtle, nuanced emotions that manage to shine through and really give the reader deeper insights into Rasputin's life.

Rossmo is definitely becoming a household name when it comes to illustrators and his work in Rasputin #1 is no exception. Characters are illustrated with something of an unfinished quality to them, exuding vague looks and an abundance of cross-hatching. There's a lot of kinetic energy in character's actions, which allow the reader to fully understand the weight behind a hit for instance. Backgrounds are depicted somewhat vaguely, but the lack of detail is appropriately matched by the rather simplistic approach to characters, with both background and character uniting for a finished look. Plascencia's coloring for the outdoor scenes is especially chilling, as he relies on very subtle blues and grays to underscore the desolation Rasputin grew up with.

Rasputin #1 is a origin story of sorts, but it's one that moves along at a very even pace. Many people know who Rasputin are, but few probably know the full trials and tribulations that his "abilities" forced him to endure. Grecian's script is very powerful despite most of it lacking dialogue, as his described actions carry a lot of symbolism. Rossmo's art is a very solid fit for the story, depicting the harshness of Rasputin's life through an equally harsh appearance of characters and setting. Rasputin #1 is an interesting take on an extraordinarily interesting man and shows a lot of promise in the direction it's going.

Rasputin #1 is in stores today.