Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Cafu, Andrew Dalhouse
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: June 22, 2016
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Review by: Branden Murray (@bmur3660)
We don’t know each other well, so I'm going to dish some dirt and let you in on a little secret of mine to grab your interest. I’m a stubborn man. It doesn’t bother me personally. I’ve learned to accept it. Although I’m well aware my stubbornness doesn’t really open me up to a lot of new things. I’m very set in my ways you see. Despite this personality trait I’ve become very captivated by the creative teams of a new title I am reading that can pull me into their world in just a page or two. Impressing a naturally stubborn bastard that inherently doesn’t like new things is an impressive thing to do. So, let’s get right to the meat and cheese of this little article and talk about why I was so impressed with Rai #14, a continuing part of the 4001AD Valiant event.
We kick off the issue with narration from the head of the mid-36th century Rai and the purpose she serves in this “new” Japan. After a beautifully rendered splash page, our Rai, named Sai, springs into action to prevent a mass suicide from occurring. We see her display a gentle, caring attitude, as she's able to talk these people down. Sai reflects upon being the beacon of hope these people have needed before being called away. I loved seeing how Sai isn’t just a "punch all your problems in the face" type of hero and can solve issues that arise through other means. Moving on from suicide death cults, we see the freakishness of our story take a strange turn. Yes, I do realize this may read like an oxymoron. I mean what’s freakier than a suicide death cult? Let me tell you...
We continue to follow the adventures of Sai, who seems to have been summoned by none other than her father. Now this isn’t the traditional Father’s Day visit involving barbecues and beers though, because Father, as he’s actually called, is an Artificial Intelligence. Besides vying for dad of the year honors in its own mind, this A.I. protects and controls the entire island of Japan. We find out these Rai’s are created by Father as champions every 100 years or so for the people of the country. That is such a cool concept, but hold on, it gets better. Along with being an all controlling A.I., Father is also a seriously unique and messed up looking thing. I'd best describe it as a literal talking tar pit with suction cup tentacles. If that still isn’t good enough to take you on the nightmare train to Scary-vile it appears to have summoned Sai because it’s time for this Rai to die and let another take over the mantle. Sai pleads to be given a chance to face the upcoming threats, but Father, despite these pleas, still tries to place its oily tentacle suction cups all over Sai and drain her life force. At this point I personally stopped to reflect because I can’t think of a more horrifying way to go and I won’t sleep all week thanks to Mr. Kindt and his kick-ass art team. Thank god Sai is able to sprint away before the worst thing I could imagine in my sick and twisted brain actually happens.
Back in Sector 3101 of Japan, we see two warring sides confront each other and it looks like they mean business. We’re talking Anchorman style battle formations here and the battle horns are sounding. Sai the Rai arrives just in time to try and defuse the situation, but the twist here is that not everyone here actually came to fight afterall. As the massacre begins we see a bad ass mysterious figure appear. Is this the new Rai for this new time Father referenced?
I have no clue yet, but he is wielding two of the most badass weapons I’ve ever seen so he has my vote. I'd call these weapons lightsaber whips for comparison sake. If the Dark Side ever had the foresight and got their shit together long enough to stop making Death Stars and make these instead there would be no more movies folks. Darth Vader would have won without a doubt and I would have personally liked to see that ending. What this mystery character actually does to end our issue I'm not going to spoil but it's worth the price of admission to see these whips in all their whippy awesomeness.
Bits and Pieces:
Bottom line is you should give Rai #14 a shot people. I was impressed throughout the book by the writing and story of Matt Kindt. I keep popping in to read his Valiant work for this 4001 A.D. event and find myself enjoying each issue more than the previous. To be 100% honest, I don’t even really have full grasp of what’s going on throughout this entire event yet but have enjoyed it for the spectacle of it all alone. I can’t neglect to mention the art team who really emphasize the sci-fi horror vibe this book is putting out for me. They do a great job of making our heroes standout amongst the masses while the landscapes and backgrounds are as rich as the characters themselves. If you’ve been hesitant about testing the waters for any Valiant related title you should start to ease those reluctances. Jump in to Rai like I did sit back and have a creepy good time.