Alright so here it is, issue 16 of Rai. The final book to one of the best comic book arcs I have ever read. And goddamn was it an amazing read. Every aspect was flawless: Matt Kindt’s scripts, Cafu’s line art, Andrew Dalhouse’s color art, and Dave Lanphear’s letters. These guys made an incredible team that somehow managed to make an encyclopedia fun to read. There is so much I want to say about this issue, but I will try and keep this review concise.
For those of you who have just now joined the 4001A.D. summer event from Valiant, let me catch you up. Father, the ruler of New Japan, has turned hostile, and he has taken his citizens hostage. Luckily for them, their fearless protector, Rai, has come to their rescue; for their salvation… and his own. As Father’s son and sword, Rai’s battle is internal. In order for him to understand the solution to this conflict, he must understand his past. This is where Matt, Cafu, Andrew, and Dave started their story for the Rai tie-ins; at the moment where all of this began, the start of the Rai lineage.
Matt really outdid himself with this arc. He managed to express all of this terse backstory with a narrative that was well paced and relevant. His character’s, instead of feeling dead and distant, were alive and pertinent to the story. Their every action affecting the world around them, and the world after them. Which he connected using Father’s ego, and the massive environment of New Japan. All culminating to the end of this issue, which Matt centered around current Rai before the events of Rai #1.
I cannot give anything away, but this book was like the final puzzle piece that connected everything Matt has been working on for the last two years; The murder, the positronic revolution, the raddies rebellion, the sectors, Father, Rai, it all makes sense now. To the point where it seems like it wouldn’t work any other way. Which begs the question, was this all planned out before or after Matt’s initial pitch? I have no idea, but it sure seems like it. What I do know is that he wasn’t alone in the masterpiece.
Cafu’s contribution to these last three books has been nothing short of astonishing. And this issue is no different. In fact, I think this is his best work yet. His fight scenes were fluid, and when he drew Rai running into New Japan’s network, you could almost feel the rush of speed. What I loved the most, though, was his faces. Every expression was so vivid, so full of emotion. I loved it. Not to mention his crisp and detailed backgrounds. Aided in full with Andrew’s colors.
This man knows how to accent a panel. From page 1 to page 24, I swear that Andrew went through the entire color wheel. Bright blues, deep reds, grotesque violets and greens, and even some daylight yellows were packed into this book. My big take away is the transition from page 22 and 23. Andrew went from a cold snowy scene to a warm summer scene flawlessly, almost to the point where you could feel the temperature shift. It was very impressive.
And last, but not least, is Dave’s work. Letters often get overlooked, but if it is executed poorly, it can break the entire flow of the book. Something he avoided entirely. As far as this issue is concerned, I really enjoyed how Dave played with the Rai monologue. He told a story all to himself, and he even had me questioning the sanity of the Rai all together. An impressive feat.
From the first Rai to the current one, this team has done an astonishing job respecting and building continuity. All together they managed to build one of the most rich histories I have ever seen in a graphic novel format. More specifically this issue is officially my third favorite comic from Valiant, right behind Harbinger #3 and Imperium #12. I give this issue a 6 out of 5 stars. Meaning that you need to get off this site and go buy it!
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by CAFU