Published on November 26th, 2014 | by JCDoyle0
Rasputin #2 – Review
The second issue of this historical based comic is framed with the same technique as last month’s opener. It picks up the story at the point where the poison hits Rasputin’s system and he is attacked by his would be killers. The sight of one of the murderers triggers another flashback allowing the creators to tell another portion of Rasputin’s life.
This time Rasputin is older but not much wiser. With both parents now dead he feels trapped in his home town and trapped by his own alcohol dependency. One night in a local bar a brawl breaks out and Rasputin steps in to defend the underdog for no other reason than to have a good fight. He is self destructive but through this random violent workout he meets Antoine Dulac who convinces him to leave town with him and his men, to travel across Russia. One of there first stops is a monastery near Verkhoturye where Rasputin first meets Brother Makary, one of his future assassins.
There is a different emphasis to the imagery this month. Whereas the first issue focused on the beauty of Rasputin’s surroundings in contrast to the brutality of his father, this issue has a much seedier, uncontrolled feel to it. The titular character is no longer a child and has grown up into a disenchanted young man. His disregard for himself is reflected by the art, especially in the bloody, crowded bar brawl where chaos reigns.
The narrative again focuses on the brutality that surrounds the Russian and which he seems to attract despite the contrasting natural healing ability he has. Alex Grecian shows a lot of confidence in Riley Rossmo’s art and allows for pages of text free panels. This silence helps to illustrate the main characteristics of Rasputin and Dulac as it highlights their strengths and weaknesses. It also shows how the two instantly have a connection and how they share certain personality traits but Dulac is obviously maturer and is being set up to be Rasputin’s mentor.
The framing story element works to enhance the narrative by linking each individual issue with a building mystery: why have these ‘friends’ turned on him? The flashback sequences are stories that can almost stand on their own, similar in nature to Kurt Busiek’s 2004 run on Conan where he used selected issues to tell Conan’s childhood story. However, the bookends in each issue of Rasputin have a link to that particular issues flashback adding weight to both plot lines.
Rasputin #2 is very enjoyable and much more raucous than the first issue, swapping the cruelty of his father and brutality towards his mother for more random acts of violence. There was some criticism around the first issue not being true to history and over playing the magical elements however I think this is one of the stronger themes of the comic. It represents the duality in Rasputin’s life and the comic does not regard itself as a true, historical account of the man’s life (it uses the word ‘True-ish’ on the title page) but rather a retelling of a legend: mystical and fantastical elements and all. This is an entertaining introduction to the character and if you have a desire to learn about the ‘truth’ then this comic gives you some of the background with which to begin you studies.
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Alex grecian
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colourist: Ivan Plascencia