I haven’t read much Valiant since the company came back. I read a bit of Archer and Armstrong (the first arc at least), and a few other titles, but not much else. However, I’m going to try this new title, Rai, which is written by Matt Kindt and drawn by Clayton Crain. Is it good?
Rai #1 (Valiant Entertainment)
In 4001 A.D. Japan has grown into a super metropolis with thousands of sectors and a population of over a billion people. It’s under the control of a computer AI called “Father,” and is watched by its super powerful guardian, Rai. Then the unthinkable happens. For the first time in over a thousand years, someone is murdered and it seems to be the beginning of something much larger than Rai or anyone may expect.
Sir, he’s talking to that tree again.
There is a lot to say about this book being a first issue. Does it do its job right, being a good introduction into this world and its characters? Reasonably so, I do understand what’s going on and I have an idea of our cast so far. Does it seem interesting enough to encourage readers to stick around? It’s certainly intriguing enough that I could see some readers wanting to stick around to follow it for the first arc at least. However, there is one thing I that stood out a lot to me as I read the book that must be said: this is a very cramped book.
What I mean by cramped is that this first issue is packed to the brim with so many terms, concepts, elements, ideas, characters, and a very different (well maybe if you haven’t seen Blade Runner or Metropolis) kind of setting that it feels overwhelming. There’s so much happening in the comic and while I do appreciate that it’s trying to get all of the setup and introduction out of the way, it does not do a good job of balancing it all. I don’t feel like I have good grasp of anything; just the bare bones outside of the legend of Rai and the kind of character he may be. There are a lot of interesting ideas presented but they don’t flow well within the story. As Rai #1 tries to do everything, it never becomes fully engaging like other first issues and you don’t find yourself really caring a lot about the main character or the situation (we have no real attachment to anyone or anything yet).
Don’t call me a raddie! You know I’m not rad at all!
Despite trying to do a little bit of everything — the writing isn’t too bad otherwise. The dialogue and narration are reasonable, if a bit complicated at points (especially with some of the futuristic terms being used). The story does not have very good transitions and jumps at points with seemingly no reason, though the scenes themselves read reasonably well. Characters are not very well developed, but they have potential to be interesting with a bit more depth and insight into them. The ending is pretty well done however, and has you awaiting what will happen next time around.
The artwork by Crain is very unique looking. He’s good at capturing the moody atmosphere, the sci-fi feel and tone (again, this reminds of Blade Runner), it has some interesting if a very goofy and silly looking designs, and the layouts aren’t bad it all. It’s a very polished looking book overall.
Is It Good?
Rai #1 is a book with the best of intentions, trying to help introduce us to all of the concepts, ideas, and characters right away in its big sci-fi world. It, however, sadly tries to do way too much all at once and can be overwhelming a lot of the time. There is definitely potential here and the artwork is more than able to help it along, but this was a less than stellar debut in general. Maybe wait until the next issue hits before you decide if you want to try this out.