By Matt Kindt, Clayton Crain
An epilogue and a Promise
The curtain falls on 4001 A.D. with this final issue of the event mini-series. Springing out of the Rai title, 4001 A.D. turned what could have been an arc of Rai into an event that enveloped the Valiant Universe, giving fans a taste of what’s to come.
Old heroes returned. New heroes stepped up. A battle of wills, both mental and physical. 4001 A.D. offered intense, splashy action along with the sobering themes of control and manipulation, reliance, and free will. Writer Matt Kindt imagined the world far into the future, but grounded it in the universal truths of human behavior. This isn’t a book about capes, despite the central figure being more than human. It’s about the common man, the heroes amongst us that arise when we need someone to stand for us. Set in a highly imaginative science fiction backdrop, 4001 A.D. is thought-provoking and a stimulus to the senses.
This final issue in the series was a satisfying end. The conclusion was a tad predictable but necessary to move the Rai series forward. This was a book about a rebellion, and win or lose, life in New Japan could never go back to how it was before Rai’s awakening. For most readers, the question wasn’t whether the rebellion would succeed, but what the price would be. Previous chapters showed Father, the controlling A.I., dropping populated sectors to Earth in a gambit to maintain control. Some heroes died during the fighting. This issue continues the main battle between Rai and Father, but the scope moves beyond the immediate, exploring the potentialities from the outcome of the battle.
This exploration is where the book really shines. Kindt keeps the text to a minimum, allowing artist Clayton Crain’s stunning panoramas of Earth to tell the story. There’s a switch in narrator as well, which makes this feel more like an epilogue. It also serves as a link to the first arc of Rai.
Overall, there is a feeling of hope and determination despite losses and hardship. Readers will feel a sense of peace. The final page hints at something even better – the next chapter. The closing scene in particular is one that all fans will rally around, especially those from the original Valiant era who undoubtedly will equate this with the “future.”
Artist Clayton Crain continues to create the definitive look for the 4001 era. This time out, the book starts with a two page recap before jumping back into the action. The recap is differentiated by its softer, looser style and lighter color scheme, which gives it the misty feel of a recalled memory. The main story returns the more saturated color and tighter pencils. The double page panoramic-style imagery of the various Earth settlements will blow you away. Expansive and lush, this is some of the most gorgeous work Crain has done for the series.
4001 A.D. #4 is a gratifying end to the event miniseries. It is both an epilogue and a promise of a tantalizing new future. The synergy between the copy and art make this book, and the event as a whole, a must-read.