Published on October 29th, 2014 | by JCDoyle0
Rasputin #1 – Review
If all you know about Rasputin is from the the 1971 film Nicholas and Alexandra staring a grumpy Tom Baker or from the rather romanticised lyrics of Boney M’s song, then you’re in for a surprise as Rasputin’s life is serialised in this new comic from Alex Grecian and it is a work of beauty.
The story starts near the end of Grigori Rasputin’s life, or at least one of his ‘ends’, if legend is to be believed he died many times, and the quote on the back cover sums up the approach that this comic has taken, “When the legend becomes fact. Print the legend”.
Rasputin is surrounded by his friends but he is also painfully aware that one of them is trying to kill him. He lifts a glass of blood red, poisoned wine up to his mouth while the ghost of his father looks on. He laments at the lack of understanding that those around him have of his life and this leads into a flashback of his childhood where he lived with his over baring father and abused mother.
This section of the story is unrelenting in it’s depiction of family abuse with Efim (Rasputin’s father) bullying his son and beating his wife almost to death. It’s at this point where some of the more outlandish elements of the ‘Mad Monks’ life are portrayed as he exhibits a magical healing ability to save his mothers life. This ability rears it’s head again later in the story and it’s his choice of recipient that cements the foundations of his personality.
Any preconceptions the reader has about this comic will quickly fall away as Grecian portrays a broken home and the consequences of continued abuse. It’s not a pleasant history to tell and the script is very text light for a large portion of this section allowing the art work to illustrate the emotions and violence of the young Russian’s life. It is the lack of speech or voice over that makes the story more poignant, focusing the reader on to each brutal punch or Rasputin’s healing touch.
The art work is naturalistic and has a dream like quality to it, in fact it could be described as Magical Realism. There are beautiful landscapes and simplistic dwellings all containing the unpleasant, oversized Russian bully and his unfortunate family. Efim is drawn as a massive presence in each panel and even in the opening scene which is set long after he has died, Rasputin’s father still exerts some authority over his life.
For Grecian and Rossmo, this comic is a work of personal passion and this is evident in the product that has been released. In this first issue the pair have provided an image of Rasputin that is instantly recognisable while at the same time investigating a part of his life that few will know about. Already they have portrayed a complex and sympathetic character which any reader can understand. As issue 1’s go this is a prime example of what to do to capture the readers attention, I can’t see anyone picking this up and not coming back for issue 2.
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Alex grecian
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colourist: Ivan Plascencia