Release Date: April 30th, 2014
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Written By: Matt Kindt
Art By: Clayton Crain
Rai jumps back into the comic book world at Valiant Entertainment. The spirit protector of Japan in the far future makes his return as the badass defense system for the A.I. known as Father which controls all of Japan and its citizens. 90s nostalgia on paper.
The story so far is one many fans my age probably already know with a few tweeks and alterations. The A.I. is called Father now and Spylocke is now an actual real character in Japan instead of a fictional hero. The peaceful existence Japan has been enjoying is shattered as a seemingly random, vicious killing makes headlines as the first murder in 1,000 years. The world is new and the characters are basically brand new for the most part so it becomes difficult to soak it all in sometimes. There is a ton of new stuff to take in and it’s almost impossible to really digest it all and get the feel of this book. I had to re-read several pages over and over but maybe I’m just slow on the uptake. Or maybe I’m mesmerized by Crain’s art. Next paragraph for that. The story isn’t convoluted at all but it is packed full of info. The overall story is covered fine though. Rai starts investigating and finds another suspect with a pirate style flintlock pistol. Who are the people using these antique weapons to murder…boom, suicide bomber. Hours after the first murder in 1,000 several others happen and Rai is overwhelmed. He then encounters Spylocke and some kind of crudely made Frankenstein-esque robot man thing who proceeds to whoop his futuristic samurai butt. In short, the storyline is a massive info dump without being extra wordy and still making it fun to read. I also like how seeds are planted already of Father’s possible mistakes and Rai’s statement that he doesn’t take orders, he defends Japan. Smells like an uprising to me.
Now, on to the big draw. Clayton Crain is one of my favorite artists in damn near any medium of art you can imagine and he doesn’t disappoint in Rai. When I found out he was drawing an awesome sci-fi hero from 90s Valiant, I was giddy like a school girl. The entire tone of the book from top to bottom, left to right is completely futuristic. It screams 4001 AD on every page and doesn’t let up on the gadgets, architecture, people, and every other possible thing that needs to be upgraded for it to be believable and feel like almost 2000 years from now. The action is adrenaline-fueled katana swingin’, ninja kung fu madness and Rai looks like possibly one of the most badass characters I’ve seen in forever. The last page of this comic book is worth the cover price by itself. I mean it is truly a beautiful thing to behold. I hated when Crain stopped drawing Carnage but this is an even better fit for him.
All in all, this trip down memory lane seems to be a good one so far. It may be a ton of info but it is the 1st issue. That being said, the story lays down an excellent foundation for what’s to come. It has murder, mystery, pirate guns in 4001 AD , katanas, cyborgs, and everything else geeks love. Plus there’s Clayton Crain. Another win for Valiant.