Review – Rai #13 (Valiant)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Cafu, David Lanphear
Release Date: 18th May, 2016

Rai issue 13 begins a new story arc for our character, and with the Valiant summer event – 4001 A.D – focusing on New Japan after Rai has been cast down to earth, writer Matt Kindt has cleverly decided to go back to the origins of the character here.

The story opens with New Japan, and Father, in their infancy. It’s 3001 and the problems that plague Earth – poverty, impoverishment, famine and disease – are rife. The population are questioning whether they are actually better off on New Japan, and dream of escaping back to old Earth. Is this the seeds of the Raddies movement?

As we’ve come to expect, Father narrates over the panels. He talks of when he first became aware, and of the decisions and questions he asked at that moment of self-realisation. The character of Father is a truly brilliant creation. The manner in which he (Matt Kindt) writes Father, almost as if he’s making emotional decisions, is truly eerie and really makes the story. The truth is that all the decisions that the AI makes are anything but emotional, and it is genuinely chilling. It’s a fascinating counterpoint that makes the AI such an omnipotent and terrifying character.

Father sees himself as the protector of New Japan, and the Human populace is the problem that he has to solve. This is not the Father of 4001 yet, he’s not too totalitarian and seems genuine in his resolve to help his human wards. His solution for this is the very first Rai, an analogue interface with the populace, the one limitation Father has – a way to directly interact. Even though the genesis of Rai seems like a benevolent act, we still see evidence of the cold and calculating methodology that is Father. Yes, this subject was a success, but the scene shows countless previous failures. It’s a reminder: Father kills, arbitrarily.

Yet, there is still an innocence or naivety to Father. The first Rai was designed for creation, to help the people of New Japan build. Rai himself is a child and an innocent, only wishing to help, but the new Raddie movement has other ideas. In fact, over the issue we see that the direction Father’s AI eventually takes may actually be a direct result of the Raddie rebellion. By trying to free themselves, they have, in fact, strengthened Fathers decision to control them. It’s a curiously circular logic, and quite brilliant in it’s simplicity.

With Clayton Crain on art duty for 4001 A.D., Rai continues with a new art team – artist Cafu, and colorist David Lanphear. Readers need not worry though, as the incredibly high standard of art we have come to expect when picking up an issue of Rai continues in spades here. In fact, you could argue that the slight manga influence in Cafu’s art actually adds to Rai. His line-work is sharp, giving a crisp finish, and the design of the first Rai works really well. David Lanphear has chosen to color with a continuation of the pallets previously used in Rai and it helps the ease of the transition to the new art team. I especially love his shading which is subtle and well blended.

I am very excited about this new story arc, as it seems like we’re going to get answers on the origins of Father and the history of Rai. In fact, Valiant has promised us answers to all the previous Rais as past and present will collide in continuity for the 4001 A.D. summer event.The evolution of Father looks to be fascinating; how much has humanity shaped the AI despot over time, and who was Father’s creator? What happened to the first Rai, and how did that change how Father created the subsequent generations?

Valiant have done it, they’re treating us to what is shaping up to be an intense summer event and I’m all-in. Matt Kindt and team have crafted a new layer to the world of Rai, and look to be backfilling these characters with an exciting and compelling new story. Father is – without a shadow of a doubt – one of the best villains of recent times, and getting to witness his evolution alone is worth the cover price.

Rating: 4/5.

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13043453_10154167818863408_9180033184388957427_nThe writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.

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