Rai #14 & 4001 AD Event Mid-Point Review

Rai #14
Writer:
 Matt Kindt
Artist: CAFU
Colours: Andrew Dalhouse
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Release Date: June 22nd, 2016

4001 AD #1-4
Writer:
 Matt Kindt
Artist: Clayton Crain

4001 AD: Bloodshot
Writer:
 Jeff Lemire
Artist: Doug Braithwaite

4001 AD: X-O Manowar
Writer:
 Robert Venditti
Artist: Clayton Henry

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*SPOILER WARNING*

Valiant’s latest summer event 4001 AD has been a Rai fan’s dream and we are right in the thick of it at this point with the recent release of Rai #14. Being halfway through the 4001 AD event we have seen Rai return to space to fight Father and hopefully save New Japan in the main series. We have been given two tie-in issues that help expand the universe with 4001 AD: X-O Manowar and 4001 AD: Bloodshot which were very special as we see how the X-O Mechs were created and how there is one lone mech that the Eternal Warrior knows of, and how the nanites of Bloodshot (Ray Garrison) are back and stuck with memories of Jay Garrisons where after he buries Ray’s body the nanite Bloodshot ventures off to do new things (predictably arriving in the 4001 AD event). The ongoing series Rai (issues #13 and #14 so far) during the 4001 AD event has Matt Kindt writing the history and importance of the Rai units to New Japan and explaining the whys and hows of their creation as well as the reasoning behind why every 100 years a new incarnation of the Rai unit is created. 4001 AD has been one huge chocolate cake with lots of icing & sprinkles on top and has something for every Valiant comics fan to enjoy, not just people who are fans of Rai.

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Rai #13 left off at a point where we are guided through the origins of New Japan as narrated by Father and he explains his reasoning that Rai units are designed and created to bridge the gap between the artificial intelligence Father and the citizens of New Japan, but only meant to live for 100 years before they are replaced by a new Rai unit with a different attitude to suit a new century and help inspire humans. Early in the existence of Rai we see that Father realizes that a Rai unit is more of a symbol of hope rather than a personally helpful being to the citizens of New Japan so we see that this is why Father designed AI companion beings for every citizen. This is very interesting as the series had never delved into the other incarnations of Rai.

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Rai#14 continues with a focus on the incarnation in the Mid-3600 AD who is a compassionate & sympathetic female incarnation of Rai, and our narrator in this issue, named Sai. We see Sai saving a mob of suicide jumpers who rallied to get together and kill themselves but Sai is discovers this event without any notice from Father. She dismantles  & stops the mob from killing themselves but leaves to talk to Father. Father tells Sai that there is an unstoppable danger coming and that she is at the end of her 100 year run, and that a new incarnation of Rai is coming. Sai explains to Father that she is capable of saving these people but Father has a plan to create a Rai with an attitude to suit the coming age. Sai runs away and finds herself in the “Pleasure Sector” of New Japan where the AI companions are used for sex and as targets for shooting practice. These AI companions have had enough of this and they all get together in a mob ready to confront the humans in the shooting range when Sai appears to talk them out of what they are doing, only to discover that the mob of companion AI are doing what they are doing to broadcast them all being used and slaughtered by humans to cause a revolt among the people in New Japan. As the humans are murdering this mob of companion AIs, out of nowhere the humans and AI companions alike are getting slaughtered and sliced by the latest incarnation of Rai who wears a hooded robe and uses laser whips to fight. This new Rai after killing everyone takes Sai and insinuates that he might let her live and not kill her as Father wants.

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Rai #14 does some really cool things like showing Father’s mentality towards his survival/the survival of New Japan. There is a great page where we learn that after Sai saved the mob of suicide jumpers, Father had actually cut out their sector and shot it into space hurtling towards Earth in great balls of fire, which is meant to send a message to the citizens of New Japan that they too can be let go at any fitting moment. This was the first time Father had destroyed a sector to influence the rest of New Japan, and fast-forward to the pages of 4001 AD where we see Father cutting many sectors from New Japan and sending all these sectors to the same deadly fate. The mythos of the character Rai now shows us that there were all sizes, shapes and sexes of Rai with different mentalities and purposes throughout the existence of New Japan but not all of their fates were death, and some might have actually been salvaged (as hinted to earlier in the Rai series).

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I love what the Rai series is doing during the 4001 AD event giving us all this back story to help bolster the importance of Rai to the universe and to the event. Matt Kindt is an all-star writer and his work on Rai has been stellar as he is writing both 4001 AD and Rai, he really knows the Valiant universe and proves to be giving all of us fans tasty bits to chew on. During the 4001 AD event Rai’s art has changed to a more cartoony style than we are used to with Clayton Crain’s phenomenal acrylic paint art style, but CAFU does the Rai series justice with his art and at times I find panels and scenes to be much more clear and bright than Crain’s art with the Rai series. Fear not because Clayton Crain has only moved on to doing the 4001 AD main event books providing consistently great art and huge beautiful splash pages. Shoutout to David Mack for the amazing covers we are getting with the Rai series as well. Having followed Valiant comics through 2 major events that turned out to be great (The Valiant and Book of Death) 4001 AD will prove to rank among the best Valiant event books. I am still very disappointed that Valiant opted to not give the event issues high quality gloss covers because it makes the event not feel as important or as much of a beautiful package in my hands and in my longbox. We are only halfway through the event and we have a lot to look forward to before the event finishes, such as the reveal of a new character War Mother (a badass apocalypse woman who has a sentient rifle), the moment when New Japan’s geomancer meets the Eternal Warrior, the moment where Rai meets prior incarnations of Rai, and most excitingly the point where all local comic books shops with the 4001 AD locked box get the physical keys to open these boxes and reveal MORE secrets when the event wraps up. This whole event is doing some amazing things and telling one hell of an epic story. EXCITING TIMES FOR VALIANT FANS! Pick this event up and check out the Rai series today!

~ T.J Head

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