Written by Matt Kindt with art by Clayton Crain
Just in time for the Christmas holiday comes the thrilling conclusion to the latest arc of Rai, a book that is much like the gift that keeps on giving. With a market dominated by short arcs and constantly rebooted titles, Rai continues to be one of the rare books that places substance and form on the same level; a book where the sum of its parts is much greater than that of the whole.
When Rai first launched, it seemed disparate from the rest of the Valiant Universe, but as New Japan’s story has continued to evolve over the last eighteen months, it has become apparent that series writer Matt Kindt has had a long term plan for the book all along. With the titular character being cast down to Earth by the entity known as Father at the end of the last arc, the last four issues have served not just as a story of growth for Rai, but also a quest for answers for both Rai and readers alike. The introduction of Gilad, the Eternal Warrior, in this arc has certainly help tie some loose ends that have bothered some Valiant fans since that character’s first series ended in 2014 and really help shed some light on how the world of 4001 AD is tied to that of the present.
Now, discussing the events of this issue would be a disservice to readers of the book, but Kindt sets up some interesting new dynamics for the series going into the recently teased 4001 AD event coming up next summer. Rai has always set this book up as the interplay between three factions’ – the Raddies, Dr. Silk, and Father – interactions with Rai. With the revolt of the android-like Positrons, the introduction of Izak and the freeing of his people in this issue (and a nice Easter egg for old school Valiant fans at that) along with the introduction of new groups interacting with Rai on Earth, the world of Rai is becoming ever more colorful and exciting than ever before.
Of course, part of the magic of this book is Clayton Crain’s digitally painted panels that give the book the surreal tone which makes it so unique among other books of this genre. Crain’s use of color has become particularly important over the last couple of issues as we begin to see more environments than the dark, industrial complex that is New Japan. Even after twelve issues, Crain’s art continues to astound.
While Rai #12 may not give readers a definite resolution to the latest arc, it is a prime example of why this book is so unique. With a rich, evolving storyline and visually striking art, Rai continues to be one of the best sci-fi series on the shelves today. Pick it up!