Here it is folks! The conclusionary issue to the best comic book event of the summer, 4001A.D. #4. It has been an amazing adventure with the creators Matt Kindt, Clayton Crain, and Dave Lanphear, and they could not have ended this story better. In lieu of this special occasion, I decided to try out a new style to review the book, and event as a whole. The following is an interview with myself, which is usually part of my process anyways. Plus, I couldn’t resist, being the narcissist that I am.
1) On behalf of the Crusaders, I would like to, first off, thank you for your time. And, second, do a little introduction. Hi, I’m Dyla-
Uh, what? Dude, this is weird. Quit being weird, and let’s just get this over with. Okay?
2) Totally! But before we dive into this issue, let’s talk about the 4001A.D. event so far. What has been happening in the story so far?
Alright, let’s see here. I think we first opened on Earth, since Rai had been banished there by Father, who is the sentient A.I. that ruled over the orbiting space city, New Japan. He, Rai, had just teamed up with the Eternal Warrior and a human named Lemur. Together they ventured to an old cavern with a massive mech suit inside. This mech suit was made from the X-O Armor years ago and was the focus of the 4001A.D. X-O Manowar One-Shot. Rai took this suit to the skies, rocketing towards New Japan. In space he found Father waiting, and they clashed like titans. After some stuff happens, Father and Rai finally get some desperately needed father/son time. All the while, Lulu and the Geomancer remain in hiding citizens of New Japan, until an opportunity to take one last strike against Father arises. Which, now, brings us to the beginning of this issue.
I know I missed some big moments, but I would rather someone reading this to get out there and experience the magic for themselves.
3) That sounds really cool, and smart move on the omission! Since you mentioned it, the readers might be interested to know that this event was broken up into three parts: The main 4001A.D. books, the Rai series, and four One-Shots. With that in mind, what have you thought about the main story title, 4001A.D.?
I like them, a lot. One thing you can guarantee from Valiant is that they let their creators have a ton of freedom. This style of editing comes out heavily during their summer events. For 4001A.D. in particular, I think that creators Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain have been building up to the for a little over two years, which means that there is much more to this event than the industry standard ‘what if…?’. These main books really take on the story left by the Rai series, and even retain the same cast. So it was very familiar, even with space dragons and exciting cameos. Which is not a bad thing, mind you, since it made the story flow so much more smoothly. Thinking back on it now, it is crazy how MUCH story they packed in to these four issues. I mean, when we started Rai was watching his city burn. Now he, well, I guess you will have to read it for yourself to see how it ended.
4) Okay. So what about the Rai tie-ins?
These were my favorite of the entire series. As I said before, 4001A.D. picked up the story where Matt and Clayton last left off in Rai. So instead of trying to squeeze in more face-time with those plots and characters, Matt teamed up with artists Cafu and Andrew Dalhouse to tell the history of the Rai lineage. A little something about myself, I am a sucker for the Avatar Universe. When this creative team went back to the first Rai, and the beginnings of New Japan, it instantly reminded me of those two Legend of Korra episodes about the first Avatar. I don’t know, that sounds stupid, but I really enjoy history within fiction I guess. It just tells its own story, and for the Valiant Universe, that is kind of their bread and butter. Matt, Cafu, and Andrew made some of the best comics I have seen in the better part of twenty years with this run, and they managed to give understanding and enlightenment into their universe and ours.
5) I’ve never thought about it like that. And the One-Shot tie-ins? What about those?
Those were also fun. Shadowman, War Mother, X-O Manowar, and Bloodshot, they really brought out the big guns for those one shots. I mean with writers like Jody Houser, Rafer Roberts, Fred Van Lente, Robert Venditti, and Jeff Lemire, who could not have a blast. Not to mention the insane artistic feats from Robert Gill, Michael Spicer, Tomas Giorello, Brian Reber, Clayton Henry, Andrew Dalhouse, and Doug Braithwaite. The cool part was, too, that they each had their own niche, that fit perfectly with each corresponding main title.
First there was X-O Manowar. This title explained the Earth’s history when New Japan took to orbit. The betrayal of Father, the war on Earth, the giant X-O Mech Suits, all of it matched so well with 4001A.D. #1. Plus, one of my favorite Valiant OC characters squeezed in at the end. So I was happy there.
Next, I believe was Bloodshot. This issue was morbid and creepy. I mean, seriously, Bloodshot was just a freaking head. But, again, it fit with 4001A.D. #2 perfectly. Both Rai and Ray’s desire to see their mission through until the end… Ugh! So good.
Then, to my surprise, Shadowman came out. For about 4 months, I had been wondering what the hell Shadowman’s role in the 4001A.D. Universe was going to be. And even after I read it, the connection to a bit longer to sink in. All of the sudden it hit me. This magical dystopia IS New Japan! Killer metaphor from that team. Oh, and there was also a 30 foot tall Shadowwoman Loa. So that is amazing on its own.
Lastly was War Mother. For a while Valiant had left this title as a mystery, but once they released that secret fans went nuts. I don’t blame them either, the book was outstanding. The team did a good job of making a new, way fucking badass, character and transforming this idea of apocalypse into natural evolution. I may go read it again when I get done with this stupid interview.
6) Very descriptive. Well now that we all have a better idea of the event, what were your initial thoughts going into this issue?
I guess I was nervous that nothing could live up to my standards. All of those fantastic stories from outstanding creators built up to this moment, and sometimes I tend to over excite myself. Which is dumb, of course, since Matt, Clayton and Dave always knock it out of the park.
7) Uh, huh. Did it live up to your expectations?
Absolutely. I could not have asked for anything better.
8) How would summarize Matt Kindt’s contributions?
Do you want a professional summary? I guess I would say that his writing, like always, was concise. He has this way of jumping over large gaps in time between his panels that always astonish me. There is this moment where Rai watches New Japan, as a whole, plummet to Earth. Then, almost seamlessly, Matt moves us to settlements made by the fallen sectors in the aftermath. This was done without any narration, or exposition; none of this ‘two months later’ shit, which is what made it all the more impressive.
I want to go down saying that I love, love, love how he writes Lulu. Her and the Geomancer are probably my favorite characters of his, and they were great during this issue. Also, the conversation between Father and Rai… I had a similar scene in my head for my own comics, and to watch Matt put my script to shame… it left a bitter-sweet taste of envy in my mouth. Overall, he just did such an amazing job with the script for this issue.
9) What about his overall work on the event?
I mean, I feel like I said it all. This guy can write a fucking event like no ones business. Matt pays close attention to detail not only in his own work, but other’s as well. It is rare these days to see a writer lay down his own pride and consider the continuity of their characters. This makes a story fun for old and new readers. I don’t know what else I can say without being too repetitive.
10) Understandable. And how do you think Clayton Crain did?
Does incredible cover it? No. What about astonishing? Not quite. Ah, how about fucking mind-blowing? Yeah that is it. Clayton is one of those artists that no matter how many times you see his work you will always be amazed. His paintings are just so detailed, it is sometimes hard to wrap my mind around how he does what he does. Everything about his run here was nothing short of a master piece. The way he flows from page to page, using these subtle lines and highly saturated colors, should be an inspiration to all creators out there.
If I had to say something about this issue specifically, it would be this. Even though his fight scenes were a ton of fun, as was his detail in Father’s face, I think what I really enjoyed was his backgrounds.
11) Oh yeah? Does he add anything new this issue that we haven’t seen him do at Valiant so far?
I think so. You know how I mentioned earlier, when talking about Matt Kindt, about the switch from New Japan falling from orbit to the aftermath? Well Clayton’s contributions helped this transition be as smooth as possible. His back-to-back double splash pages took my breath away. I want to say more, but I refuse to rob anyone of this experience.
12) Alright, alright, that sounds insane. Can’t wait to see it for myself! Do you have any other thoughts about this creative team?
See, there you go being weird again. Yeah, I do have some other words about the team. A lot of reviewers will just concentrate on the writers. If you are lucky, you might even find a review out there that mentions the art, but the real treasures are when someone mentions the letterer. These guys do a ton of work, but constantly go unrecognized. Dave did a fantastic job ensuring that they dialogue, and diary entries, read smoothly.
13) I never thought about that, everyone should be recognized. Alright, so you think this was a good conclusion for the event?
I did. The team went full circle for this event; starting on Earth and ending there.
14) And what about the overarching conclusion for the Rai series?
Well, I don’t think of it so much as a conclusion, but the beginnings of something much, MUCH, bigger than we have seen in the previous Rai books. That being said, I really hope this wasn’t the end of the series.
15) Me neither! Do you have any final thoughts, or anything you would like to share with the readers?
Yeah. This book, this arc, and this entire event is a must buy. If you are reading this, get out there now and buy all twelve issues. You will not be disappointed, I assure you.
16) Wow, well thank you so much for doing this. It was weird, but probably not half as embarrassing for you as it was for me.
You have no idea…
There you have it folks! Get out there and pick up any issues of this event, or the Rai series, that you maybe missing. Between the fantastic writing, art, and letters from many different teams, I would have to rate this event, and the this issue, a 6 out of 5 stars!
- Writer: Matt Kindt
- Penciler: Clayton Crain
- Cover Artist: Clayton Crain, Tula Lotay, Ryan Bodenheim, Philip Tan, Clayton Crain, Ryan Sook