Rasputin is a series that I haven’t been kind to in previous reviews, and so it was with some apprehension that I approached the latest issue, which brings the series back after a four-month break. Much to my surprise however, I have to say I enjoyed this issue and I think it may be the strongest entry in the series to date. Indeed, much like its protagonist, this series refuses to stay dead; just when I think I’m ready to give up on it, it manages to do something that reignites my interest. In this case, the feature that has given this series a whole new lease of life is the shift in setting from the early 20th century to present day. While the change in setting has not been fully explained just yet, this issue worked anyway as a way to build the world in which Rasputin now lives. It establishes him as an aid of some sort to a presidential candidate, while also setting up some ongoing plot threads for issues to come. Meanwhile, writer Alex Grecian also finds time to take us back to the events of issue five, and wrap up some dangling plot threads left over from that issue. While there hasn’t been a lot of time spent developing them, and Grecian is still sparing in his use of dialogue, I’m already interested to find out more about the cast of Rasputin’s modern-day adventures. Particularly, the character of Shanae Tolliver who drops a bombshell on the final page of this issue, which leaves Rasputin in a very interesting place moving forward.
My only real gripe with the writing this issue is the dialogue. Previously, I’ve criticised this series for not having enough dialogue, however with this issue I think Grecian has found a sweet spot between too much and not enough. Still, my complaint comes from the fact that some of the dialogue still feels a little awkward, and I continue to be puzzled by how consistently unimpressed the characters in this series are by Rasputin’s healing powers; a strange creative choice that really dehumanizes many of the characters in this book.
Something I’ve praised about this series since the very beginning is the art team of Riley Rossmo and Ivan Plascencia, and that praise shows no signs of going away with this issue. Even now - in the modern day setting - Rossmo and Plascencia’s work seems to fit perfectly with Grecian’s story. I feel like everything I want to say about this art team I’ve already said multiple times in previous reviews, so with the aim of not repeating myself I’ll just say that the art in this book continues to look great, and many double-page spreads could very easily be framed and put on a wall.
It’s no secret that I wasn’t a huge fan of the first volume of Rasputin, but volume two has kicked off firing on all cylinders. The story is more focused, the characters show a lot of promise and the art continues to look great. I’m really hoping that this creative team can keep up the high standard set by this issue, because if they can then volume two of Rasputin might well become a must-read.