Advanced Review: Rai #1
“Kindt has created a slick, dense background that’s custom-made for Crain’s rich, digitally painted style. The first issue is a dizzying, breathtaking story that sets the series up for a wild ride full of thought-provoking concepts and ideas.”
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Clayton Crain
Release Date: Wed, April 30th, 2014
First, a little set-up: I was in my teens in the early ’90s when I first became aware of Valiant’s Rai. He was a simple character with a very sharp edge. He was easily my favorite character of Valiant’s line-up. I gobbled up every book I could get my hands on…and then, all of a sudden, POOF! Rai was gone. So, you’ll have to imagine my surprise when Valiant re-launched a few years back. My head was swimming with the memories of all of their unique books that pulled my young consciousness away from the Big 2. My curiosities were in full tilt mode both as a fan and as a creator. There was teaser image in 2012 featuring Rai by David Aja that was floated across the ether and I was ravenous but there was still very little in the air about the developments or the character…
The wait finally ends next week.
Rai #1 is remarkably polished and expertly delivered. Matt Kindt’s story will remind you of futures the likes of Blade Runner and Minority Report where utilitarianism and high technology reign supreme. Clayton Crain’s work can only be described as the comic book equivalent of playing with liquid mercury; it’s ridiculously fluid and his one-of-a-kind dynamic style will poison your mind in the best possible way as he raises the bar of digital artwork in modern comics. Kindt has created a very slick, dense background that seems custom-made for Crain’s rich, digitally painted style. The first issue is a dizzying, breathtaking whirl of a story that sets the series up for wild ride full of thought-provoking concepts and ideas.
Without spoiling much, the first murder in 1000 years (yes, you read that right) has occurred in Japan. Rai is sent to investigate. Rai is presented as a national symbol of order in 41st Century Japan. He is the right hand man of the unseen yet omnipresent “The Father” who is depicted as an overseer of Japan who micro-manages even the slightest dictums of order beyond everyday function. The story is narrated by a young girl named Lula; she provides much of the needed subtext and back story that sets the foundation of the 41st Century setting. Kindt’s use of the character is brilliant as she creates texture for the background with her futuristic slang; you can’t help but enjoy learning the language of the time period. Alongside Lula’s narrative is Rai’s internal process monologue that shifts the story’s focus inward towards the mysterious Japanese super-cop/ legend; very little is revealed about Rai but this factor impede the character whatsoever. I was very intrigued by the introduction of Spylocke, a character that carries a sort of meta-fictional background that coincides with the history of the setting; there is even a cool little short piece at the end that fleshes out the history of this enigmatic super-spy.
Valiant’s re-launch of one of its mainstay heroes has been nothing short of miraculous. The second coming of Rai with Kindt and Crain at the helm, coupled with the company’s other recent successes like Harbinger, XO-Manowar and Unity, can only indicate that the party is just getting started at Valiant. If you’re looking for something crisp, with a wealth of story density and eye-popping artwork to dazzle your synapses, prepare yourself; next week is going to be a very good week for new readers and Valiant loyalists alike. Reserve your copy today. To quote Lula in the first issue, “RAI IS COMING.”