It’s Friday, 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 #3.
Published in May 1992
Written by David Michelinie
Layouts by Joe St. Pierre
Additional Art by Sal Velluto
Inked by Charles Barnett III
Colored by Knob Row
President Tanaka’s advisors are tired of Rai and Kazuyo being a sensible voice in the president’s ear, so they leak Nerveweb control codes to the Restoration Underground to help them eliminate these mutual threats. The Underground hatches a plan to attack the desalinization plant in order to catch Rai and Kazuyo off guard. Kazuyo is visiting her son for the first time in days when she gets the alert about the attack. She uses her ring to call for her armor to meet her there and accepts a ride from a citizen, who happens to be Makiko of the Underground. Meanwhile, Rai jumps the Nerveweb to respond to the attack but discovers that he’s been trapped in the web by the codes that were given to the Underground.
Kazuyo is attacked in the cab by Makiko, who expects her to be helpless without the armor. She fights back, causing them to crash into a museum. She uses her ring to call her armor to her, and it arrives just in time, allowing her to defeat Makiko. Meanwhile, Rai finds himself face to face with a giant dragon with baby serpents crawling out of its face. He realizes that, although he has energy passed down from generation to generation, the dragon is tapping the energy of the Nerveweb, the life blood of Japan. He surrenders to the dragon, but evades it, causing it to break the barrier trapping him, allowing him to slip out.
Rai and Kazuyo both evaded their planned deaths, but they discover that they have further separated from the people of Japan. The desalinization plant has been damaged, which means more hardships. Makiko stumbles her way back to the Underground base after losing her fight with Kazuyo, beaten physically but having won the battle. The people are losing faith in the government, and the future brings Grandmother’s return.
This was a great issue! The tension has been building and now we’re getting to the payoff. Last issue, Kazuyo aligned herself with Rai by coming to his rescue. This issue, the two were separated and attacked. The two threads of the story were beautifully interwoven, showcasing the strengths of husband and wife, now once again allies. Although they overcame the immediate threat, they now find themselves forced together as they are ostracized by the citizens of Japan.
I love the battles they’re creating for Rai. He’s too powerful for struggles against the armies of the Humanist government or the Resistance Underground to be interesting issue after issue. Last issue, he battled a quirky villain in an ice suit. If Valiant rolled out villains like that issue after issue, this book would just get cheesy pretty quick. This issue, Rai fights a dragon in the Nerveweb, but the battle is less physical and more mental and spiritual, as he is fighting against the life force that he is there to protect. This battle is much more interesting than just bulking up the rogue’s gallery, and it has much deeper meaning, referring to the internal struggle between Rai and what is right to do for the people of Japan.
Originally from ValiantCentral.com