The year is 4000 A.D., New Japan is a technological masterpiece existing in the void of space high above a barren Earth. The A.I. known only as Father reigns supreme, the people are carefree, crime is all but nonexistent and when a hiccup does occur the Father's own progeny: the great Rai appears from the shadows to strike it down!
In this future utopia where all is serene, is the world prepared for the unthinkable? The first murder to occur in New Japan in centuries!
When one barely scratches the surface of page one you clearly see, the world of Rai is a wonderfully crafted yet eerie place. Simultaneously a dream with the undercurrent of a suppressed nightmare, the New Japan of the Valiant universe is wholly unique. Writer Matt Kindt and artist Clayton Crain are legends in our time and by the end of this first issue if you didn’t know why then you’ve been unmistakably informed.
The characterization of Rai is amazing in itself, the character himself and the legends that surround him in the story both feel palpable. You get every bit of the sense he’s both a powerful warrior, a mythic figure and a pragmatic man. He feels alien yet still somehow relatable in his underlying somber nature. The same is said of our POV character, Lula a teenage girl who somehow seems to possess a wisdom beyond her years. She serves as the eyes and ears of daily life in New Japan but also represents the change in the status quo by being the outsider in a complacent society. Through her we get the sense of how massive and mind reeling life in New Japan can feel, how strange it is in many ways to the world we live in now and even though there’s just something a bit off we also get a sense of wonder at this futuristic landscape. So when Kindt adeptly begins to tug at the strings of this perfect tapestry right away we’re drawn in, we aren’t just observing this cybernetic world, we’re in it with Rai and Lula and everyone else.
Speaking of the cybernetic aesthetic, if you’ve been reading comics at all in the last decade you’re probably already aware of Clayton Crain’s work. If you’ve never read Rai however you’re probably unaware of just how engrossing his style truly is when given a world into himself to craft. Something about his digital style is the perfect choice to bring a futuristic world to life, to not just look sleek and cool but also vivacious, unique and somehow utterly alive and beautiful despite being so machine like and clinical.
The bottom line of it is, Rai is a must read for anyone who truly enjoys beautiful art, well written characters, engrossing mystery and slightly unsettling conflict. For an opening world with such a big goal as creating an entire future for a beloved line of comics, Rai #1 is almost a “how to” guide for anyone looking to sharpen their world building skills.
Gorgeous art, rock solid writing and a sense of mystery and wonder that gets you on the hook from page one, Rai is everything it sets out to be and more.
Rai #1: Man or Myth?
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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