The tale of two Cyborg samurai continues as Rai and his little big brother Raijin journey together through 4002's version of Jurassic Park. If you thought Goldblum had it rough at least his bio-engineered monsters were totally organic. To make matters worse, a mysterious "ailment" befalls our hero Rai rendering him defenseless as Bloodfather's minions close in on the pair.
Rai #3 is a bit lighter than the other issues in tone but only on the surface. One of the more interesting aspects of this run is Rai’s desire to live as close to human as possible. Now time and time again, impending doom leering over the boys makes that all but impossible if they want to live long enough to destroy Bloodfather, but it still makes for some interesting elements to consider and layers added to the pure awesomeness of cybernetic samurais on a vengeance quest like something out of only the very best spaghetti westerns.
For starters we learn that in his efforts, Rai has somehow been able to disable parts of Raijin’s powers without him noticing. Considering how advanced Raijin is, that act alone is really impressive but it also begs the question, “Why?” The most obvious answer being to help avoid detection. If Raijin can’t access long distance networks (or the 4002 hyper advanced equivalent) then it makes it hard for Bloodfather to track their position too. But the fact he does so without Raijin knowing is what makes it so curious. Raijin is definitely the hero worship type so if Rai had just asked him to disable these abilities he would have just accepted the logic behind it and done so. So the true motivation has to be something else, what if instead he’s trying to teach Raijin what it means to be human as Rai himself learns as well?
It would make sense, the desire for the Rais to adapt and blend in on a deeper level with humanity is literally the only part of this journey the elder Rai has been tight-lipped about. Perhaps this is more about the self discovery than just “Hey here’s your homework.” Considering Rai himself is indeed “more human” in composition than his brother it would make sense he would have the easier time adjusting to humanity, that is to say learning firsthand what it’s like to be unsure or nervous or excited genuinely on an emotional level rather than a philosophical/observational one.
On the flipside, Abnett doesn’t leave this lesson one-sided. Rai himself gets conked into cyberspace against his will by his “friend” Lula aka Spylocke. By disabling comms, the pair hasn’t spoken to each other in months and considering all the two have been through and things left unsaid…well Rai definitely has some work to do in the relationship department whether he’s aware of it or not. While Raijin is learning something else entirely Rai is slowly but surely learning that his single mindedness is contradictory: his methods are efficient yet growing more machine like and yet his desire to destroy his father’s evil even in misguided ways is unmistakably human to a fault. The dichotomy this illuminates is just one of the many things that makes Rai so interesting beyond his ability to smash faces and do dope samurai stuff.
Spylocke being “reintroduced” another much needed layer to this tale while it’s a reminder of why Rai is doing what he’s doing, it’s also a reminder of just how harsh and vast a world they live in. As for Spylocke herself, it’s just great to see her becoming more capable even if she has some hiccups along the way. The journey from being a confused girl way over her head to a confident and capable leader has been as entertaining as the more outlandish elements of the story.
When you slap on greater danger as Bloodfather’s noose draws tighter around our heroes and some quality moments of humor and development from Raijin and consistently solid art, you’re handed another shining example of just how solid this book truly is under Abnett, Ryp and Dalhouse.
Rai #3 serves up another piping hot reminder of genre bending, well balanced humor, intrigue and action you can only get from a superb creative team on their A game.
Rai #3:Back to the Primitive
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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