Rai: The History of the Valiant Universe #1
“ History is a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man.”
― Percy Bysshe Shelley
On May 02, 2012, Valiant Entertainment re-launched with X-O Manowar #1. More than five years later, Valiant Entertainment is as strong as ever with numerous multimedia and pop cultural avenues being explored. In February of 2017, it was announced that The Vans Warped Tour presented by Journeys and Valiant Entertainment. Talents such as screen writer Eric Heisserer (Arrival) and the Russo Brothers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War) have been confirmed to be working on film and television projects with Valiant Entertainment. Bloodshot, Harbinger, Harbinger Wars, X-O Manowar, Quantum & Woody, Archer & Armstrong, and (most recently) Shadowman (to be directed by Reginald Hudlin) are all in various stages of development. Later this year, Bat in the Sun Productions will release their highly anticipated web series called Ninjak VS The Valiant Universe.
With some many media projects in play, it is important to remember that Valiant Entertainment is first and foremost a comic book publisher that is focused on creating high quality stories. It is those stories that were many years ago the genesis of what would bring Valiant Entertainment to this point in comic book history, and beyond into what will be its most brilliant future.
The very first original character created in the Valiant Universe was Rai (aka Tohru Nakadai, the 42nd Rai) who made his debut in 1991’s Magnus Robot Fighter #5.
NOTE: Rai was the “Spirit Guardian” and defender of Japan. The Japanese Kanji word for spirit is “Rai” (霊); however, it is spelled “Rei” in english. This Kanji is visible in the original logo box for Rai in the early 1990s; as well as the modern logo for the 2014 series.
In 2014 Valiant relaunched Rai (written by Matt Kindt and featuring visually stunning artwork by Clayton Crain). The series (which is technically still ongoing) was (is) completely phenomenal in every way that a comic book is able to be. After two years of build up, in 2016 Valiant Entertainment launched the 4001 A.D. mini series summer event (along with multiple one-shot related titles) that significantly expanded the future of the Valiant Universe and the world of 4001 A.D., and set the stage for epic stories yet to be told (including, but not limited to, Faith and the Future Force which will be released in July).
Rai: The History of the Valiant Universe #1 is necessary reading for new readers to obtain a snapshot tour of the events that have unfolded in the Valiant Universe since the 2012 re-launch. It is a fantastic starting point for those looking to jump into the Valiant Universe to see what it is all about, while also a nostalgic experience for long time readers who will appreciate the trip down memory lane.
Writer Rafer Roberts is able to take the very best and most significant moments over the past five years and weave them together into an enjoyable story that not only touches on the past, but also provides new character and plot development as the Valiant Universe moves into 4002 A.D. this summer and beyond.
Artist Francis Portela had a truly monumental artistic task set before him. Previous artists Clayton Crain and Carlos Alberto Fernandez Urbano (CAFU) created perfect art during their time on the title. With the bar set this high, even with a solid and inspired artistic effort it would have be easy for most artists to fall short of fan expectations. However, Portela does not disappoint, and is most successful in providing quality work. Characters and settings are recognizable, and display appropriate emotion and movement from start to finish. Perhaps some of the most fun offered is Portela’s recreation of iconic moments from throughout the Valiant Universe such as his choice to re-create Clayton Henry’s 2013 Harbinger Wars connecting cover (Bloodshot #10, Harbinger Wars #1, and Harbinger #11) and include it as a panel depicting the events of Harbinger Wars. Rai: The History of the Valiant Universe #1 allows Portela the opportunity to draw virtually every major player in the Valiant Universe. The ever brilliant colorist Andrew Dalhouse bring a fantastic and lifelike quality to each panel and matches well with Portela.
Rai: The History of the Valiant Universe #1 is quite honestly the perfect starting point for anyone is looking to dive deep within the magic of the Valiant Universe. It is enjoyable for long time readers and fans as bridge from the events which transpired after 4001 A.D. #4, to the future of the Valiant Universe.