My Weeky Dose Of Metaphysics From Rasputin #7: To Be Changed Or To Be Haunted?

I'm always looking for these big truths about human life in comics–call me a sentimentalist. I think, of course, that comics are capable of expressing them, but I am aware that not every comic has that goal in mind. And far be it from me to dictate the goal of a particular comic–we all know comics can do and be anything and that choice by the creators is the important thing. That freedom of choice.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.30.40 PMBut Rasputin, having come back from its hiatus in Issue #6 sent us into a slightly uncomfortable, but necessary transition into the polar zones between the 19th century and the present day. Those transitions we clocked but may have not fully understood. How was Rasputin alive in the 20th century or later? How was he not killed as the subject of a death plot on the battlefield? There's a strangely privileged status we enjoy because we, as readers, get the nod and the wink to Rasputin's own knowledge of the date and manner of his own death. He may dance around it, but he keeps us in the loop about when he's really in danger. These elements–foreknowledge of one's own death, the ability to communicate with the dead–make the comic prime for a few deep moments and we get them in Issue #7.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.28.20 PMAs far as the plot goes, your mysteries will be teasingly addressed in Issue #7, but the comic is so far masterful in never revealing too much (damn you Grecian and Rossmo), but I bet you'll stop a couple times and think, empathetically, about what it's like to be Rasputin, because that's what the book specializes in. We see the ghosts that he sees when others don't, we see the experiences he has that are unperceived by others. If Rasputin isn't your identification character by now, it's a mystery how you've made it to issue #7. And the big philosophical moment is when Rasputin's friends asks him how he copes, seeing a dying person, and knowing that if he helps them he will be "changed" but if he doesn't he will be "haunted" and followed by their ghosts.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.28.14 PMIt's an amplification of a basic human truth about interaction–we'll either be changed by choosing to interact with others on an emotional level in life–or haunted by walking by that opportunity and never taking it in order to remain unaffected. Now, I know that Grecian and Rossmo meant this quite literally in the story–this is Rasputin's terrible conundrum and you wouldn't want to be him–but it can also mean more to us in a more basic way.

Issue #7 gets heavier even than this as the creators address that greatest mystery from the first arc via flashback–what exactly happened at the predicted moment of Rasputin's death that somehow remained inconclusive, since he's still alive? What kind of resurrectionist is he or what kind of vanishing act did he perform? We'll get closer to some of these answers in Issue #7 but the team know how to keep those flames burning, that and light up more mysteries by the end of the Issue. For this reason among many, Rasputin is one of the most fascinating, infuriating books being produced right now.

Rasputin is written by Alex Grecian and drawn by Riley Rossmo, with colors by Ivan Plascencia and letters by Thomas Mauer and is published by Image Comics.

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About Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.
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