Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Matt Kindt
Release Date: 20th July, 2016
The history of New Japan continues with Sai’s story. Aboto – the new Rai (and, actually, an old Rai) – tells her of his history, of the violence inside him and how Father has decided that it’s his ruthlessness New Japan will need for the next hundred years. Now, finally, before he can take the mantle of Rai, Aboto must first assassinate his predecessor Sai.
This story is a twist on the classic rejected son archetype. Aboto is devoted to Father, but hasn’t lived up to his expectations. Father recognises the anger in his prodigy and uses it to his advantage, Aboto following instructions without question in his devotion to please Father. A being of anger, created to kill that, in order to become Rai, has to kill a being of compassion, one created to love. It’s a match made in New Japan.
Matt continues to flesh out the legacy of Rai and while the issues to date have been highly enjoyable it is now that I am beginning to feel the length of this run is not doing the story justice. Before I was hungry for this, now I’m starting to feel a little cheated by the portions I’m getting. Understand though, that this is perhaps a more selfish reaction on my part rather than a complete criticism on Matts. I like Sai, and I’m glad she’s in more than one issue so far (I wish we’d had more page time for issue 14’s Mary Anger too). In fact, it looks like she (Sai) is going to be critical to the legend of Rai and the 4001 A.D. universe. The direction Matt is steering the story is not what I was expecting and did raise an eyebrow. Yet, I just feel that fleshing this story out a few more issues would have made it wonderful, rather than simply great.
In the previous issue Matt wrote a lot about the sicker side of humanity, and how New Japan now needs the dangerous Aboto to purge this darkness, but in this issue we get more Father-time. Initially it is as Father choosing Aboto’s mother, then through Aboto’s own monologue as he narrates the mission that Father dispatched him on. Finially, towards the end of the issue the monologuist is Father again at his cold and calculating best, rendering judgement on his not-so prodigal son.
Cafu’s art it as on-point as we’ve come to expect. The soft art style really suits the story, in both the emotive telegraphy of the characters, and the fluid motions and action within the comic. I love the action panels of Aboto fighting on Earth. There is a stand out full page panel at the start of the issue of Father and Aboto’s mother and it is worth the issue price alone. Andrew Dalhouse’s colour use is interesting. He sticks to a few colours per panel that’s dependant on location, this alone is deserving of your appreciation. However, he goes the extra mile by subtly pixelating everything in New Japan. It’s not obvious and looks vaguely like jpeg artefacts. It serves to remind you – if indirectly – that New Japan is false, that it’s a completely fabricated reality. It’s genius.
Rai 15 and the history of New Japan continues to be an excellent and illuminating story. The legacy of Rai and the direction that Matt is taking is interesting, and suggests that the Rais who existed before 4001 A.D. Rai were perhaps not as helpless in the presence of Father as we may have thought. My only complaint is that the standard four-issue arc style that Valiant employs is just a little too short for this story. In saying that, with one more issue of the current arc to come, we’ve been promised the answer to how Father was created before presumably tying this arc into the current 4001 A.D. Rai that we know and love. I really can’t wait.
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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.