Since this arc of Rai started, as a tie-in for the 4001 A.D. summer event, I have been completely captivated by it’s beauty. Each new issue continues to best the one prior and drags me further into the rich mythology of the Valiant Universe. Matt Kindt has topped himself in every possible way with this story; delivering a script fueled with intense world-building and deep character development. All of which is interpreted perfectly by Cafu’s line-work and Andrew Dalhouse’s colors. Besides the Imperium run, I think this may turnout to be the best story from Valiant Entertainment yet.
There is so much packed into this issue, that it is hard to decide where to begin. Matt continues exactly where he left off in Rai #14, where the female Rai, known as Sai, is confronted with her replacement; the bloodthirsty Rai named Aboto. However, unlike the previous issue, this story is told from the perspective of Aboto, and his coming into being. You’ll have to get the issue yourself for the rest of the details, but let me short change it for you: it is amazing.
Not only is this book a fun history lesson of New Japan, but it also lays out obstacles for Rai in the present day. This is important because when Rai has his final confrontation with Father, it will mean far more than just another, bland, beat-em-up showdown. Another fantastic aspect of Matt’s writing, is in the pacing. He has this ability to seamlessly jump back and forth between settings, be it timelines or far off destinations, without missing a beat. The reason why he can do this is because of his knack for world-building. It is all too obvious that timelines, maps, and character links were not just thrown in last minute. This attention to detail makes the story fell alive and energetic, while also effecting other parts of his writing as well. His dialogue is concise, the story is streamlined for a purpose, and his theme, while definite, is not overbearing. Matt leaves a crystal clear picture for his co-creators, which pays off in full.
The first thing that I noticed when I opened the issue was the art. Cafu’s first page summarizes why he is a perfect fit in this book. Much like the writing, he has such a keen eye for detail and emotion; so much so, that I think you could understand this story even without the dialogue. The scenes where Aboto loses everything, and confronts his enemy, is breath taking. You can feel his rage, his pain, with every swing of his whip. And when you watch Sai, before she was made in Father’s image, wandering through the forest, Cafu imparts the feeling of being lost and confused. He is not the only artist that deserves credit, though. Andrew did just as much work, for pushing for those emotion responses, with his stunning color choices. He jumped, much like Matt’s script, flawlessly between saturated oranges and greens to deep blues and purples. It is all very impressive.
And so is the entire book. The writing, the art, the lettering, and the editing… it is all the kind of quality one should expect from the creators at Valiant. I want to thank all of the creators for this arc, and I honestly cannot wait for the conclusion next month. I give Rai 15, 6 out of 5 stars.
STORY BY Matt Kindt
ART BY Cafu
COLORS BY Andrew Dalhouse
LETTERS BY Dave Lanphear