(RASL #1-7) The story is gripping with a good amount of history of science and bizarre and a pinch of sexy. The drawings are excellent, tight, well-planned. The dialog is smooth and real. Smith executes the conventions of noir as a genre well. I suppose I find some aspects of the genre a bit annoying, especially the lone hero who narrates everything in his thoughts so we can understand what's going on. Still, this is less problematic on the page than it is on the silver screen (that is, reading Sin City makes it seem less cheesy than watching Sin City, for example.) I would prefer the explanations of the current predicament of the hero in flashbacks or conversation with other characters rather than us following him walk or drive or steal a Picasso painting as he "thinks" these explanations. But to his defense, Smith does it all: flashbacks, black outs, dialog, history show-and-tell, the whole works. Perhaps he wants to add this to the mix. Perhaps without it the first "pocket book" would be too long, which may not be desirable from a publishing point of view.
One thing I certainly like is that the main character is not a pristine soul. In fact, he is morally very suspect. And his convictions regarding the secret project he is working on with his partner are somewhat surprising, though utterly human as in inexplicably inconsistent. Again, the conventions of noir are apparent in the way the character is presented as an immoral man with principles he will risk his life for. He may also be inclined to risk his life for a woman or two, almost like a true gentleman.
I will read the second book. The ending of this first book is not a huge cliff hanger, which is good, because I hate to be so obviously manipulated, but the momentum of the story is truly building up by the end of this volume. Another good thing about the ending is that it allowed me to have a hypothesis forming about what will happen next and who the weird lizard looking guy might be.
A warning for Bone fans: This is not Bone. By that, I mean, it is an entirely different Jeff Smith you will find. This is not a bad thing at all. On the contrary, the finesse Smith employs to create such a different work than his previous masterpiece demands awe and praise.