“…Things have always been this way, since the beginning of time. Some die so others can be saved…”
― Yasmina Khadra
If you enjoy quality artwork and well written stories, then Valiant Entertainment’s Rai is a series you need to pick up! From the beginning with Rai #1, series writer Matt Kindt has consistently delivered a phenomenal product that completely stands on its own. Not even once has the quality dropped, as the series has been consistently strong month after month, and easily can be listed among the very best ongoing series in print today.
Specifically, Rai #13, #14, #15, and #16 (which is being reviewed here) have been thoroughly superb. These stories significantly expand the Rai mythos and history that lead to the Valiant Universe of 4001 A.D. They provide tremendous insight into the background and purpose of the Rai throughout the ages, and also how “Father” thinks and acts. They take readers from New Japan in the heavens down to earth; and back again with a well crafted story that spans multiple generations. With no deception and in all honesty; Rai really is a story that you need to read. So many people complain about a lack of originality and quality in the comic book industry today, yet Rai offers readers and fans both of these qualities in spades, in addition to some of the absolute finest science fiction available today.
Kindt’s story is truly epic. But it is the artistic pairing of artist Carlos Alberto Fernández Urbano (CAFU), and colorist Andrew Dalhouse that bring his epic to life. There were a lot of questions as to how any artist could possibly follow artist Clayton Crain (who literally painted Rai #1 through #12), as he is arguably among the most talented and visually stunning comic book artists in the world today. However, CAFU and Dalhouse completely succeeded, and were the absolute correct choice for these books.
CAFU’s sharp and well-defined lines are complemented by layers of grey tones that he creates with Copic Markers to create three-dimensional renderings of both characters and settings. This process has created some of the very best interior page art for the publisher (e.g. Rai #13, #14, #15, and #16, X-O Manowar 25th Anniversary Special #1). CAFU’s process is so clean, crisp, and rich that readers are not overwhelmed with each panel to where details are lost, but instead are able to actually follow the story as it was intended. The center of focus is exactly where it should be, which is the hallmark of a phenomenal artist, which CAFU most certainly is. Dalhouse is pure magic on this series, brilliantly employing the right colors that readers and fans of the series recognize. This is most evident in Rai digitizing/teleporting with a pixellated electric blue flash; the red-hot glow of Aboto’s energy whips; the deep blue hue of hair and lips; and the near perfect shades of pink in the cherry blossom tree (Prunus serrulata, which is specifically native to Japan, Korea and China, and quite fitting for this story as it is told in New Japan).
Rai #16 represents the absolute finest work in comics today! It possesses a strong and captivating story, and matches this with high quality artwork and colors. If you were able to imagine the best Japanese animation available, it might well look like Rai.