RASL is comic book creator Jeff Smith's follow-up to Bone. A science fiction series with noir elements, it follows RASL, AKA Robert, a former physicist who travels between parallel worlds as an art thief using stolen equipment. As the story goes on, we learn more about RASL's past research into parallel worlds - and the consequences of leaving the project.
The story is much darker than Bone. The artwork is stunning and the storytelling is tight. The series was collected into four 10" by 12" volumes, called the "Giant Artist Editions", and the first two volumes are also available in a single smaller book.
RASL contains examples of:
- Alternate Universe: Lots of them, all very similar to the one RASL comes from.
- Antihero: RASL, who is not a bad guy, but still cheats with his best friend's wife and then accidentally kills her while blowing up the compound. Not to mention his friend Annie the prostitute.
- Bittersweet Ending: RASL manages to land a critical blow against his former employers, kills Sal, and is able to keep digital copies of Tesla's lost journals after destroying the originals. But he's estranged himself from Annie, killed Maya to stop his tech from being misused further, Miles ultimately died of his injuries after all, and he's still a vagabond on the run with no way of knowing if he'll ever shake his pursuers for good.
- Body Horror: The crew of the ship from 1943, who got phased into bulkheads and grew extra limbs. RASL's hand splitting and the bartender with the enormous tongue, once things start going squirrely.There's also what happens to the residents of Sells, Arizona and the police that come to help them
- Cast of Snowflakes: Par for the course for a Jeff Smith work.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The interdimensional art thief angle is dropped at the story's midpoint to put more focus on the military research conspiracy centred around Tesla's lost journals.
- Creepy Child: The little autistic girl who follows RASL around. The President of the Street claims she's actually God. She mysteriously appears in very strange situations, like floating in the air after time started jumping in Uma's room.
- There's also the part at the end where Sal shoots her multiple times and alternate universe versions of her keep on coming
- Dead All Along: By the time RASL meets her, Uma Gilles had long since been subsumed and replaced by Maya.
- Expendable Alternate Universe: Sal tries to insist this of the multiverse sans his "home" dimension, considering them to be disposable shadows of his own that can be freely exploited for the raw energy the arrays can provide.
- Fantastic Noir
- Flawed Prototype: As the crew from 1943 learned.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Crow came to understand the magnitude behind the technology RASL built and the implications behind the parallel dimensions it created. He didn't take it very well.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: The experiments from 1943. Robert feels that the experiments his team were performing are going to end this way.
- Historical-Domain Character: Nikola Tesla, and his associates.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: The various versions of Annie.
- Human Resources: The "free energy" Tesla wanted to tap into is actually the lifeblood of alternate universes. Utilizing his technology to tap into that would wipe out countless lives ad infinitum.
- Interdimensional Travel Device: RASL has one called an immersion suit. Invented it, actually. It looks like 4 airplane turbines strapped to his shoulders and legs with an African mask covering his face.
- Kill and Replace: Traveling to another universe will subsume the version of you that exists there, effectively killing them as you take their place.
- Lost Technology: In a sense. Tesla's journals were thought lost, and with them, the potential for some technology the US government wants. RASL has them.
- Mr. Fanservice: RASL gets his share of shirtless scenes.
- Ms. Fanservice: Annie and Uma. Although there is nothing explicit, there are a lot of naked women in this series.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Though they have his tech, RASL's old bosses and their minions can't use it to do anything except track RASL across time and space with the sole exception of Crow, who managed to figure out a way to travel to new dimensions regardless, but keeps mum about this knowledge.
- There's also Maya, who pretends to be an alternate universe counterpart unaware of the parallel universes.
- Science Hero: RASL, the vigilante physicist.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: More on the cynical end, at least, in comparison to Smith's other works.