Matt Kindt is one of my favorite writers, and Valiant is an exciting publishing company with great stories that are quick-moving, with story arcs told in four-issue increments. So, this twelve-issue collection contains three story arcs telling a larger story about Rai, the protector of New Japan, an enormous, floating structure containing countless cities and neighborhoods. New Japan is in the control of Father, an “omnipotent, omniscient, and unseen ruler” who is not really alive. He creates a series of protectors, each known as Rai, to do his bidding. The latest Rai that this story focuses on learns his true nature and turns on Father. This story is about those who rise up together with Rai to destroy Father.
The world of New Japan is in turmoil: Raddies, who despise technology, are constantly attacking PTs, or Positronic AIs. PTs are companions for humans. Everyone gets one when they turn sixteen-years-old, and the PT stays with them throughout life. Another major player in this story is Spylocke. Spylocke is fascinating as a concept. In New Japan, Spylocke is a fictional secret agent with stories told through cartoons that inhabitants watch. Is the Spylocke in the story the actual human on whom these stories are based? If so, why is he not much older than he is? Dr. Silk is a nearly immortal scientist who is also working with Spylocke and Rai to overthrow Father. They are aided by Momo, a PT who has gone rogue since her human owner died, and Lula Lee, a young girl who befriends Rai and helps him in his cause. There are a few other minor characters who join them, but these are the major players.
The goal of Rai is to get the Raddies and the PTs to work together instead of fighting, to get them to battle Father and defeat him. It’s an exciting story, with detailed world-building that slows down the pace of the fast-moving story just a little bit to make Rai a richer comic than it would be otherwise. The art by Clayton Crain is magnificent. His colors add a hyper-realistic and sleek look to this world of New Japan and Rai. Action scenes are dynamic and fluid and quite engaging. Fans of William Gibson will want to seek this volume out. It does end with a cliffhanger, pointing readers in the direction of the 4001 A.D. storyline from Valiant, also written by Matt Kindt. I have not read that story, so I cannot comment on it. But Rai ties in other Valiant characters such as the Geomancer and her protector, the Eternal Warrior, from whom she’s been separated. No previous knowledge of these characters is needed to enjoy Rai. If you like futuristic action-movies, this is the comic for you. Rai offers a fleshed-out futuristic world with lots of exciting action.