Writer: Matt Kindt
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Quick Take: A lush looking, fast moving comic set 20 centuries from now, but with a film noir vibe. Kmur, but it’s Crain’s visuals that really take takes this book to the next level. Valiant knocks it out of the park again with this first issue.
OUR SCORE: 9/10
There are few things I enjoy more than picking up the first issue of new comic book series. Sometimes it’s the promise of a brand new story and brand new characters, other times, it’s a chance to see a fresh take on old familiar friend.
Rai was the first original character that Valiant created and launched into a series back in the 1990’s (It was a flipbook with Magnus Robot Fighter #5-8). But as with all the current Valiant ongoing series, this is brand new version of the 90’s character. Even in the modern Valiant universe, you don’t have to any knowledge of what’s going on in other books.
Welcome to the world of the Rail; Japan, in the 41st century. A Japan that happens to be a giant orbiting space station with thousands of levels and billions of people. It’s a brand new corner of the Valiant Universe.
It’s a world that is huge, but even the people in it know very little about what goes on beyond their little corner, a world where unnatural death rarely happens, and a murder hasn’t taken place on over 1,000 years. All of that is about to change. A hero will discover that the world isn’t what he always thought it was.
The book has a striking visual style. Crain has always like to draw in a dark, moody style. Here in Rai he uses shadow and light to create a world certain to invoke comparisons to Blade Runner. There is more in the shadows than in the light. While most of the people in that world live in the light, the darkness holds the answers to the mystery, and our hero will need to go into the black. Like that classic film, this is a mystery hiding a bigger mystery. The first murder in 10 centuries takes place, and the real question isn’t who did it, but why it happened. So enter Rai, the protector of Japan. He operates as the agent of Father. Who or what Father is, is another mystery. One I am sure Kindt will not resolve quickly. For now we know just enough to take part in the story, left to our own imagination to fill in the gaps.
Kindt uses dueling narration, with Rai’s inner monologue balanced by the thoughts of Lula, a young Japanese resident who happens to witness the crime of the millennium, to help us fill in those gaps. She’s the one that tells us about the world of the Rai, Japan, it’s sectors, the PTs (think replicants, with glowing blue circles on their foreheads.), and their role in Japanese society. But while we are given most of the whos and wheres, and some of the hows, we are left with a lot whys. Why does to puts the reader in the same place as the hero; without answers, and no sure way to find them, but he didn’t leave us without clues. We ride right alongside Rai as he investigates through the sectors of Japan. From the gleaming spires of Father’s cherry blossomed sanctuary, to the VR brothels of Blackwater, in the lower sectors of Japan where the murder happened.
Like several other Valiant series, this first chapter is a slow start to a bigger story. There are far more questions than answers given so far. And it’s unlikely we will know all the answers before we reach the conclusion of this first arc. Who is Father? Who is Spylocke? How is this Japan in the same world and time as the Eternal Emperor arc going on in Eternal Warrior?
But I want to know the answers, so I will be coming back for more.