4001 A.D. #2 struggles against the same lack of focus that hurts most event comics. A lot of the dialog is made up obligatory declarations and portents. Out of context, much of what gets said in 4001 A.D. could be comfortably plucked from the page and dropped into the audio of a generic movie trailer. It’s boring and doesn’t reveal much about the characters.
Father, the story's monolithic antagonist is perhaps my favorite kind of villain: one who is so convinced of their own absolute correctness that every action is taken with the certitude of a madman. His war against Rai continues with the paternal AI throwing away thousands of Japanese lives to keep his city safe. He’s so fixated on protecting the space city of New Japan that he’s destroying chunks of said city to fight more effectively. And as our hero, Rai isn’t much better than his nemesis. He spends most of the issue trying to reason with an unreasonable being as innocent people die. It’s a little hard to side with Rai when his plan seems to involve allowing huge casualties until Father realizes the enormity his actions.
Like any comic event, 4001 has to kill off some named characters. It’s a requirement, so I don’t feel I’m spoiling a surprise by pointing out the presence of a character death. It isn’t a major plot point but the book treats it with more weight than it deserves while also somehow glossing over the death. I’m not even sure when this character dies. If the casualty happened elsewhere in this event -- in the pages of another book, for example -- then that's not great writing, but it isn't 4001's fault. If this off-panel death happens exclusively in 4001, then I’m compelled to wonder why that’s the case. If this death has emotional resonance to the characters, then you should show it to the readers. Instead, the blood price of Rai's war is given a personal, human meaning to one of our protagonists, but the book just tells us how sad it all is. I’m not asking for mindless gore, but the amount of death being doled out is so massive, we need a little focus. The book needs to linger on a specific death. This, as mentioned, is the problem. The book trades focus for scale. And, though the art benefits from this hugeness and grandeur, the characters become inconsequential.
Let’s hope things get better.
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