Sometimes comics are hard to explain. And sometimes Rai, future Japan’s guardian warrior, gets punched into space and needs to return to solve a murder mystery. Valiant Comics, you had me at, “punched into space.” There is more to “Rai #2″ of course, but the newly launched foray into Valiant’s future 4001 AD universe is mostly the action and underlying intrigue you would expect from a reboot of Rai.
For the uninitiated, Rai takes place during the future when Japan has ascended above earth onto a floating space-station of sorts. The future Japan is powered by solar energy and a benevolent power known only as “Father.” Rai is Father’s chosen guardian, selected to protect Japan and keep its citizens safe. Rai is a bit like Marvel’s Vision or Star Trek’s Spock, and pretty humorously mistakes “library of congress” for a digital collection of pornography. If all this mysterious, kindly Overlord talk has you seeing shades of 1984 and Blade Runner, you’re on the right track.
The story so far has been particularly interesting with Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain kicking things off with Japan’s first murder in 1,000 years. Rai is called onto the scene to investigate the murder, likely carried out by the “Raddies,” a rebellious sect of Japanese citizens who protest the all-digital control of Father. Over the course of issue #2 Rai continues investigating the murder of this mysterious woman, not in Japan’s digital data banks. This investigation leads to a thrilling conversation with a certain Silk nemesis fans of Kind’ts Unity will greatly enjoy.
Although Kindt receives his fair share of well-deserved praise for his work on Dark Horse’s Mind MGMT, as well as Valiant’s flagship Unity, Clayton Crain is the real driving force behind these issues. Every panel somehow reflects the digitized future world of Rai and never appears plain enough to be modern day. While there’s certainly a time and place for old-school black and white pencils, Crain’s futuristic blend of Rai’s red, white and black is perfect for the story.
Rai is off to a great start, and it’s a huge gain for comic fans to have his character and future back in the Valiant Universe. While the book has been action-first to date, there’s a lot of opportunity here to further explore the impact of rapidly controlling digital lifestyles, as well as absolute faith in abstract entities.
“Rai #2″ earns 8.0 / 10