Last month Rasputin returned from hiatus with an explosive opening chapter. The issue ended with a stunning bombshell ending that left fans salivating for the next installment. What is the fallout of the big reveal? Is it Good?
Rasputin #7 (Image Comics)
Rasputin #7 is centered mostly around a series of flashbacks to a time when the Mad Monk was a highly controversial figure in Russia. He was loved by many, and loathed by (it seemed) many more. A man with such power presents a disruption to normal Russian society, and many are averse to that disruption. One of Rasputin’s comrades asks, “just how many people are trying to kill you?” Rasputin responds, “Everyone who doesn’t want to be saved by me.” This and many of the beats in this story feel a touch like Nolan’s Batman in the sense of the character’s earnest nature towards justice and the pursuit of using his powers for good. However, this character, unlike Batman, is more likable and relatable, seeming to have more human tendencies and to be less a humorless machine.
Personal struggle within Rasputin provides for the emotional crux of this chapter. Rasputin is haunted by those he saves: every being he reincarnates lives within him as a fragmented soul forevermore. However, if he elects not to save someone then he is haunted by the regret of that person’s life. In fact, just to drive home the moral turmoil of whether to save a life or not, Rasputin’s decision takes a physical manifestation as the people he doesn’t save live as ghosts to stay with him always.
When reading Rasputin I always love how he feels so tortured by his choices. He seems to genuinely struggle with his intentions and his feelings and seems so worn down by every mistake he makes. He’s a born leader who barely has the strength to live for himself, rather than guide other people. He comes off as very utilitarian as well, making calculated decisions as to how he can hurt the fewest amount of people, almost never taking into account his moral sanity. However, as with everything else in the story, he has to live with his decisions forever, contributing more so to his emotional fatigue.
There is a recurring image of wine in the issue, that while subtle is extremely powerful. Rasputin quietly informs someone that he doesn’t drink wine at the beginning of the issue, and then if you are attentive you can understand the basis for his dislike of the drink. The author doesn’t make this wine motif the central focus of this issue; instead he makes it an enhancement, something to add to the story to make it feel full and realistic. It grounds Rasputin in reality and is a clever way to tie the beginning and the end together.
Riley Rossmo might actually be Rasputin, because he would be able to raise someone from the dead with his ever beautiful artwork. There is such a delicate balance of light and dark in this issue with the contrast of bright and hopeful America and dreary Russia. There is a palpable sense of impending doom in the air as Rasputin trudges through the thick snow of the Russian landscape whereas there is a strong sense of American pride and nostalgia on a sunny college campus. It’s all beautifully rendered in stippling, my personal favorite method of inking and shading.
Is It Good?
If you’re not already reading Rasputin, get on it. It’s a haunting, personal tale of struggle and woe with clever writing, beautiful storytelling and some of the best art you can find for $4 a month. Yes, it’s good.