Rai and Raijin arrive at a farming colony aptly called Hope Springs in search of the latest fragment of the Red King's former power. The farmers of the settlement are uneasy and untrusting of the Rai brothers and rightfully so, in order to complete their mission they may have to damage the settlement's farming systems irreparably. Before they can find out the pair are met with the Eternal Warrior, Gilad and his ward Karana the Geomancer. When Rai makes his intentions to complete the mission at any cost, only one man can stop him: Gilad himself!
Before I go into how amazing the writing is can we take a second to really appreciate Juan Jose Ryp and Andrew Dalhouse on art? Not since Clayton Crain tore it up on the original 2014 run of Rai and the 4001 A.D. line has a single art team fit Rai so well. The emotion in the characters faces, the energy of the fights, the hope filled atmosphere that follows Karana/Geomancer quite literally every single page is just beautifully done. Before Fallen World it was hard to imagine another artist/art team living up to the high bar set with previous Rai books but Ryp and Dalhouse are stepping up to the plate every issue and knocking it right out of the park.
Now circling back to the story itself, this issue touches on some really deep stuff that on the surface just seems like Rai is being jerk. With Rai being such a solid character and the enduring hero of the tale, it’s easy to forget he’s just a man and to make things even more difficult only been aware of his humanity for about 2 years at most. This issue highlights why this is a problem, Rai was built to be a perfect warrior and a flawless hero (depending who you ask) but he was never intended to deal with everyday life as normal human being. The flipside to this is despite being essentially immortal with centuries upon centuries under his bel . the Eternal Warrior isn’t nearly as far removed from his humanity as Rai is. The clashing perspectives makes for an interesting dynamic between two men who would normally call each other brother. To add to this Raijin hasn’t yet had a chance to really Express himself or his wants or desires, a small question from Karana makes this oversight a jarring revelation for the young positron. What this will develop in the future, probably the near future, will no doubt be an astounding and poignant dramatic development for the Rai brothers but also a boost to the overall quality of the story as well.
All in all there’s just so many great layers to peel back here and that’s not even taking into account the wonderfully bizarre cultural examination of Southeners in 4002 A.D. world nor the impending danger as the Red King’s forces reign down on our heroes. There’s so much to unpack here but all of it is just pure gems.
Rai #4 [Abnett/Ryp/Dalhouse]
Rai #4 takes a deep look at what makes Rai a hero but also shines a light on what makes him flawed. It's a great examination of how two opposing views can both be right yet conflict be inevitable at the same time.
Rai #4: To Err is Human
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 9.5/109.5/10
Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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