It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for another new edition of Kickin’ It Old School, our weekly column in which we look to the past and review books from the original Valiant universe! This week, I’ll be discussing Rai #1.
Published in March 1992
Written by David Michelinie
Penciled by Joe St. Pierre
Inked by Charles Barnett III
Colored by Jade
Rai finds himself in a tough position, caught between Restoration Underground and Tanaka’s government. He just wants to serve as Grandmother’s protector, as he was made to do, but Grandmother is gone. He doesn’t know the best way to serve the people. He wants to protect all Japanese people, so he won’t chose sides, but he finds himself ostracized and alone. He longs for is wife and son.
Kazuyo is still in control of the X-O suit and fighting on Tanaka’s side. Leading the underground is Koji and Makiko. Makiko leads an attack on Grandmother’s remains to recover her brain stem for use in a weapon. They create a misdirection to keep Tanaka’s side from knowing what they were after, but they couldn’t fully cover it up and Tanaka finds out.
Rentaro, the retired Rai and Tohru’s father, is approached to help stop Rai. A lonely Rai goes to see his son and is met by Kazuyo, who tries to sway him to help against the Underground to bring peace to Japan. Afterwards, she leads an assault to stop the Underground from using grandmother’s brain stem. Rai shows up to help in the fight, thinking it would help to unite Japan, but also being driven by his loneliness. The Underground reveals a Grandmother created from the remains of the Grandmother drones that were seen in the Rai/Magnus crossover. It is able to communicate with Rai as Grandmother had, which leaves him confused, until she kills a human and makes Rai realize that she is not Grandmother, and he destroys her.
Makiko reveals that their plan worked and the brainstem is still in the possession of the Underground. Rai finds himself still ostracized, even after helping the people. Rentaro reads the news of Rai siding with the Humanists and further considers intervening.
Rai starts off his own title in a similar position to the one Magnus was in at the beginning of his title, caught in between two warring factions, neither of which is completely right or wrong, and not knowing who to side with. There are many differences, though. Japan has been through war with Aliens and left in a state of destruction by Grandmother. Rai is truly emotionally torn about what to do, as his reason for existing has left him behind, leaving him to long for his wife and son but not knowing if supporting the Humanists is the right thing to do.
This series benefits from having already been kicked off for a whole arc. Still, kicking off the series by throwing everything back against what we know is daring and provides so much depth. It’s only in the third arc of Magnus that we get to see North Am in real turmoil that provides definition for the characters. To be fair, the second arc of Magnus was devoted to Rai’s story and Magnus provided a strong character for Rai to define himself with and against, whereas Magnus didn’t have any real allies in his first arc. This is a great start for Rai.
Originally from ValiantCentral.com