Rai #2 (Comics Review)

I expanded my reading of Valiant Comics’ various titles last month with the release of Rai #1, written by Matt Kindt and drawn by Clayton Crain. It presented a future vision of a high-tech Japan that sits high up in Earth’s orbit, a massive floating landmass that is pretty much locked out from space so that the people can continue to survive as they will. It is a very different Japan than I’d thought it’d be, and the series hero Rai is a big part of all that. The first issue got off to quite a decent start and I’ve been waiting for the second issue since.

As someone who loves dark and gritty stories, Rai #1 was right up my alley and the same holds true for last week’s Rai #2 as well. It picks up from where the debut issue left off and then it continues along on an (almost) high-speed chase that sees Rai travel all over Japan hunting for the answers that he needs. And in the midst of all that, Matt Kindt references other Valiant characters like Dr. Silk and the Eternal Warrior, presenting a shared universe, which was pretty good. And Clayton Crain’s art is slightly better as well, so that was welcome too.

When you pick up this title, the first thing you’ll see is that Matt Kindt’s writing is amazingly consistent with what we saw in the first issue. It has the same levels of tension and excitement, the same sense of something big about to happen, and it is similarly impressive and astounding as well. Kind of makes me wonder why I don’t get on with his work for DC in comparison. He just appears to be so much better when he is writing for a smaller publisher, with much more leeway in which creative direction to go than would be otherwise possible.

In this new issue, Matt builds up the future Japan of this setting quite nicely, showing us a lot of the social structure and history of this futuristic place. And along the way, Matt Kindt almost makes this a detective story, coming quite close in fact, and that’s when the issue starts to get really good. It is made clear that the first murder in a thousand years that has happened in this new Japan is much more than it appears to be, and that after it has happened, things are changing very, very quickly for him and the man and demi-god that he calls Father, who appears to be the top man. Of course, Matt also interweaves Dr. Silk, the evil master of cloning, into this story and he references both Eternal Warrior and Livewire, two of Valiant’s heroes from the present-day comics, especially the team-up book Unity.

That Rai takes places in this shared universe makes for quite a thrill since there is a certain glossing over of facts and you do wonder just what Dr. Silk has done to be in a place of prestige in this futuristic Japan. He appears to be an ally of the Father, and he makes a lot of claims to Rai that really throw you for a loop. Could it be that he is somehow involved in all of this? And how is this future affected when one of the biggest villain’s in the world’s history has been alive all this long?

There are a lot of questions that are raised in this issue and unfortunately very few of them are answered in any way. But at the same time the story itself is no less thrilling and I enjoyed it, because the characterisation of Rai, Dr. Silk and the girl Lula Lee is on point and makes it all worth it.

Clayton Crain’s art is slightly better than last time, mostly in terms of how he draws the characters’ expressions, and that he gives us a really good visual action sequence in the first few pages that show off Rai and his opponent alike to great effect. Seeing Rai in action is just as thrilling as seeing his inner motivations through Matt’s writing, and in this, Clayton was excellent.

So a good follow-up to the first issue, and I am doubly excited for the next issue, which can’t arrive soon enough for me.

Rating: 9/10

More Rai: #1.

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Posted on June 9, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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