“True love will triumph in the end—which may or may not be a lie, but if it is a lie, it’s the most beautiful lie we have.”
― John Green
Valiant Entertainment’s Rai, which launched in April of 2014 (with 17 different variant covers) has consistently been one of the absolute strongest titles the publisher has released to date. Not a single issue has been weak. Writer Matt Kindt has knocked it out of the park month after month, and has taken a character concept (the classic Rai, Tohru Nakadai) first appeared in Magnus Robot Fighter #5 in October of 1991 where he helped Magnus battle the Spider Alien invasion) and (with little debate) re-created the character and surrounding mythos in such a way that far exceeded any fan expectations. The artwork has simply been ridiculously phenomenal, each panel brilliantly painted by Clayton Crain whose artistic genius could not be more visibly evident.
For any artist to follow in Crain footsteps is nothing short of a difficult and likely intimidating undertaking. How is it possible to match or exceed such perfection of the craft? This is an important point to understand, first when considering the artistic quality of Crain’s work on the series, but also second, when considering the artwork that Carlos Alberto Fernández Urbano (CAFU) has created with Rai #14 and #15. Over the past two years, Spanish artist CAFU has created some of the absolute finest, sharpest, highest quality, and most consistent interior artwork that Valiant has published. As is true with any artist, CAFU has a distinctive style in how he creates each character, and the more of his work your read, the more easily you will recognize this. He creates life-like and almost three-dimensional characters and environments with crisp lines and layered grey tones that accurately capture shading and sources of light. Trees look like trees, and futuristic spaceships have a smooth man-made polymer texture. Literally every possible minor detail is masterfully captured in CAFU’s work, which is further brought to life by coloristAndrew Dalhouse who himself has created a reputation amongst the very best in the industry. Dalhouse captures rays of golden light shining through a forest during an escape (see CAFU and Dalhouse’s full splash page, on page #4 which is utterly brilliant), and as the story and events take place in multiple settings (space cities, deserts on earth, forests, and snowy fields) there is a wide variety of color pallets in play. Rai’s “laser whips”, while created by CAFU, owe their success to Dalhouse’s colors. While most certainly CAFU and Dalhouse produce a noticeably very different art style and product than their predecessor (Crain) they are to be commanded for their outstanding work which has resulted in one of the best Rai stories seen.
Kindt’s work on this story is nothing short of epic and deserves the highest praise possible. This is the sort of story that if refined, placed into a movie script, and produced correctly, would make a billion dollars at the box office. Rai #15 is masterfully written, visually stunning, and everything that comic books were meant to be!