by Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain

Ever since it’s first issue, Rai has quickly become on of my favorite ongoing books coming out of Valiant, not only because of its amazing creative team and inventive story, but because of what it means to the Valiant universe as a whole. The second arc, starting with issue #5, has continued to expand the mythos of the universe in the year 4001, and with issue #6, we finally start to see some threads emerge which will certainly have a larger impact not just in the world of New Japan, but for how the world has evolved back on Earth – a glimpse of a future we have been able to explore since the end of the Eternal Warrior ongoing. I could not be more excited.

What sets this particular issue apart from the rest is that while Rai appears throughout the book, he isn’t a central figure in the story, a wise choice by writer Matt Kindt, as this world is so rich and interconnected that it is terrific seeing some of the other players be brought front and center. Issue #6 starts with Izak’s origin story, which was a terrific read and definitely adds a new layer to not just Rai’s beginnings, but Father’s plans for New Japan since early in its history. Izak is a bit of a brute, but his motivations for helping Momo are clear. It was great learning more about what Momo has been doing since issue #1 as well, and learning about how positrons are created and how they work was very interesting and a great expansion of the “Livewire” concept that has been floating around throughout the series. While we still haven’t learned what the connection between Rai’s “Livewire” and the character we know and love in current continuity, the concept is exciting not just for long time fans looking for the connection, but also to new fans who may have no idea what any of it means.

Really, this is what sets Rai apart from the rest of Valiant’s properties. Being set in the far future, there is enough of a disconnect that the world is somewhat of a blank slate for Kindt making this series a perfect place to introduce new readers to the Valiant universe. Clayton Crain’s art has always been a high point of the series, but issue #6 is far and above some of the best we’ve seen from Crain so far. There are so many varied environments, from old Los Angeles, to the fungal farms, to the positronic birthing facility, and he brings each to life to clearly and with so much color and detail that it is absolutely beautiful to look at. I highly recommend you read this issue multiple times, not just to capture many of the intricacies of the story, but to appreciate the amount of work Crain is pouring into each and every issue.

The ending to Rai #6 has me very excited to see what the next couple of issues bring as Spylocke heads down to Earth for a secret mission. Whether we get to see more of the world of the Eternal Emperor, encounter the rest of Izak’s race, or whatever else the future brings, I am thrilled to be along for the ride.

Overall, Rai #6 continues the tradition of top-notch storytelling and art which has set this series apart from any other book on the shelves today. If you’re not reading Rai, you should, as it is a perfect example of the amazing quality of work being put out by Valiant, and really shows the company’s commitment to pushing the medium forward into exciting new directions. Pick this up!

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