The Summer of 4001 A.D. continues with this tie-in issue that swaps our regularly scheduled Rai story for a peek into the history of New Japan. While the previous issue focused on the first Rai, this one follows the Rai of the mid-36th century and her successor.
The events portrayed in Rai #14, while sufficiently entertaining, do little to further the story of the 41st century Rai which is being primarily told in the 4001 A.D. event mini-series. This could be both a positive and a negative, as it holds to the tradition of Valiant tie-ins being fairly optional reading in relation to their main event counterparts, but also lends to the issue coming across as somewhat of a filler book. The book serves mainly to flesh out our cast of past Rai characters, expound on the atrocities committed against the Positrons, and further develop Father as being undesirable. Luckily, Matt Kindt is still handling writing duties here, so you know you are getting a solid script.
Rai #14 opens on the final days of the Rai of the mid-36th century as she witnesses a rising tide of violence creeping across New Japan. Notably, we see that this Rai, as well as many previous ones, were very peaceful compared to their successors. Father explains that a more warlike Rai will be needed to handle the coming events, and plans to decommission our heroine. Not to give up too easily, Rai rushes to the sector of Father’s concern to witness what must be the origin of the Raddie vs. Positron conflict, and ultimately is unable to stop an act of mass murder at the hands of Father and her successor.
Kindt tells us this story of Father’s utopia beginning to break down, with the skill and deftness we have grown accustomed to from him. The New Japan era mythology that he is building grows increasingly intricate and interesting, despite so far being (mostly) detached from the rest of the Valiant Universe with the exceptions of easter eggs and call-backs. He also manages to endear the reader to the characters presented in this issue even though they are almost entirely new appearances, Father and the original Rai aside.
CAFU’s art is as enjoyable as ever, his fight scenes visceral and his facial expressions extremely detailed. The level of emotion he is able to convey is palpable. The designs of the newly introduced Rai characters are quite impressive as well. Ultimately though, Clayton Crain’s absence is felt to some degree. Dalhouse’s colors show variety and work nicely within the context of the 4001 A.D. setting, even while not matching the “glossier” tone of most of the rest of the series.
Rai #14 is a solid entry into the series and a satisfying tie-in to the 4001 A.D. event, even if it’s events don’t necessarily feed into the direct plotline of either. Fans wanting more meat added to the New Japan world should read this without any hesitation, while those wanting more of a direct tie to the 4001 A.D. event could pass if they felt so inclined.
- An expansion of the New Japan mythology
- Interesting new Rai characters
- Minimal connection to the story unfolding in 4001 A.D.