Valiant Entertainment 2014
Written by Matt Kindt
Illustrated by CAFU
Coloured by Andrew Dalhouse
Lettered by Dave Lanphear
A century from now, the island of Japan will launch into orbit to escape the wars that engulf the Earth. Under the protection—and control—of an artificial intelligence known as Father, the satellite nation will struggle to build a cohesive society. Sensing their discontent, Father creates a champion for the people:
It is the dawn of a new generation for New Japan with the introduction of the tenth Rai. But a former champion continues to haunt New Japan, trying to destroy Father and expose his facist ways...
This whole 4001 A.D. thing has been the best thing to happen to Rai ever. The kind of storytelling and characterization we’ve been getting has really cemented the character’s place in history for me. His origin from being born of a human mother and Father, that A.I. whom I still believe to be based on Harada otherwise why not just create something from scratch why use human DNA if Father weren’t based on someone who was human and this is idea of leaving a legacy or having literal children?
For Matt to tell this story from his early days before he fought against Father and to see the machinations of New Japan’s citizens and his own unquestioning actions keeps putting things into perspective. The stark contrast of this obedient child who possess great power to the free thinking one is great to see. It can’t be easy to go back and write based on what was like this and have it be so utterly convincing. Yet he manages to draw us in and flesh what we’ve already learned while still keeping it new, fresh and interesting.
Meanwhile Cafe and Andrew’s work on the interiors are amazing. That Meg-A-Phid is so damn good, creepy and utterly giant Japanese monster material. You couldn’t have started off with a more dynamic scene for Rai to appear in. Cafu’s eye for storytelling is impressive and the way he uses panels in the page layouts really helps the flow of the story to tell the tale. His attention to detail is amazing to witness and the colours are so in sync it’s eerie. This future is so well conceived and executed that you really don’t want to ever leave it’s setting.
Rai has become a character whose exploits we enjoy seeing. Regardless if he’s Father’s tool or enemy he’s got more depth and interesting characteristics than ever before and that makes him one the most successful updates in the Valiant Universe. Matt’s ability to impress with this is a testament to his imagination and skill as a writer. I mean we’ve seen who he becomes and yet reading this there is still a part of you that wonders how could he not see that Father’s using him this way is a bad thing and makes you want to see more.
Innovate, creative and full of mystery, superb characterization and stunning artwork Rai continues to pave the way for the future and inspire loyalty in his followers.