I haven’t been very positive about previous issues of Rasputin, and frankly I thought missing the third issue would be the final nail in the coffin for whatever enthusiasm I had left for this series. Now having read issue four I can say that I still haven’t given up all hope for this book, but at the same time I’m still not impressed with what we’re currently getting on a monthly basis. While Rasputin #4 is a slight improvement on Rasputin #2, it’s still far from what I would call a good comic-book. Something I did appreciate about this issue is the decision to include more dialogue. Previous issues have been very light on this front, a decision that I believe writer Alex Grecian made with the intention of doing something different, but ultimately one that backfired into making issue one and two rather forgettable. Seeing these characters interact with each other gave me a better idea of what their personalities are, and what morals they stand for which I enjoyed. Although that being said, there’s still a long way to go before I can consider these characters as fully fleshed out – right now, they still seem to me like only built upon at the foundation level.
Another thing that helps this issue is that the story of the book is starting to get a little more interesting. Rasputin has been introduced to the Tsar’s family, and the strange relationship between him and the royalty is starting to develop. While of course this book is far from historically accurate, the Russian history nerd inside of me is still interested to see how Grecian interprets Rasputin’s influence and position within the royal family. But I have to say even with these things considered I still didn’t finish reading this book feeling impressed.
We’re four issues in and I still don’t find Grecian’s storytelling wholly engaging. While I have to praise the short sections at the beginning and end of this issue for creating some great tension, everything that came between still feels quite bland. Rasputin’s very visual healing powers look great, but start and end so abruptly that it prevents panels from flowing very well and ends up making the book read awkwardly. Additionally I find it very odd that after witnessing these ridiculous and highly irregular powers, not a single character seems surprised or questions how Rasputin came to master this supernatural talent. They all just move on with their sole job of pushing the story along, which again, doesn’t do much to cement them in my mind as memorable characters.
But with all this book’s flaws, so long as Riley Rossmo and Ivan Plascencia are providing the artwork it will look good at least. These two really are a fantastic pair providing some very impressive panels issue after issue – they’re so good in fact that I really wish they could be put on a different book, one that’s a little more interesting. While they’re on Rasputin, I can’t help but feel that their talents are being wasted.
In the end, I maintain the view that Rasputin has potential. This is a series that could one day be pretty great - unfortunately could is the operative word here. Right now the series really isn’t living up to its potential with characters that lack personality, and a plot that really isn’t very engaging. Things have at least improved since the second issue, with more dialogue and a slightly faster pace helping to keep things a little more interesting, but still the book is a long way to being where it should be. The artwork continues to be the one saving grace this book has, but unless you’re happy to buy a comic on art alone then for now you might be best to spend your money elsewhere.
Writer: Alex Grecian Artist: Riley Rossmo Colorist: Ivan Plascencia Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 1/28/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital