Rasputin, Vol. 1 TP
Review by Paul Fiander
Co-Creator Writer; Alex Grecian
Co-Creator Artist; Riley Rossmo
Coulourist; Ivan Plascencia
Letters and Design; Thomas Mauer
Published by Image Comics
Sometimes the best place to start is at the end, this if true of the narrative of this series and so this review. At the end of this trade we get a section called “Behind the Scenes with the Starets”, here we get to see some of the creation behind this remarkable series. It starts out with Alex Grecian describing what he and Riley Rossmo are trying to achieve with the series. The two paragraphs are surrounded top and bottom by some of Rossmo’s character designs for the main players and a number of images for Rasputin himself. From here we dip into the desires of Grecian for his collaborators and finally the main event his script for the first issue.
Now the first issue was something of a show stopper when I first read it (you can read the review here). The fact based fiction ideas mixed with an extremely visual story hooked from the start. With this look behind the scenes it opens up the craft of creating this complex undertaking. Each panel has a description of the image along with captions and characters line. It sounds odd and I’m not too sure what I was expecting but this methodical process shows that getting the chemistry right a creative team is essential. Trying to balance so many moving parts must be challenging but this trade goes to show that when it works it really works.
The story itself follows Rasputin from his life in Siberia to the Winter Place. Each issue covers a prominent event in the life of the Mad Monk with a large dose of mysticism thrown in. It’s the balance between reality, legend and myth that is so intriguing to me. We know there was a Rasputin we know he infiltrated the Russian Royal Family, the healing of the sick feels more like a legend or just an exaggeration of the truth and there are a few scenes in this first volume that are pure myth (or at least I hope they are myths). However one of the quite remarkable storytelling choices in this volume is that although we start at the end there is still room for a twist or two. Due to this I have deliberately not read issue 6 as I did not want to prejudice what I feel is a great opening arc with knowledge of the later events.
In many ways this is a trade worth reading for the art alone but thankfully it has more going for it than just looks. An academic study of the life of one of the most intriguing characters in history it is not, but it is still a tale worthy of your time with one hand in history and the other in the storyteller’s imagination.
Preview pages from Issue 1
Review copy and Images via publisher