Rai has returned. I have to admire Valiant’s commitment to keeping Clayton Crain on the series and waiting for the delays in-between storylines in order to keep him on and fans happy. It’s interesting and I wonder if it works for the sales. I hope so because then maybe more series would do it. I know of a few series that it works for over at Image so it’s good to see other publishers trying it. As for the story. We pick up after the revolt of the last issue. Things didn’t go well. A new Rai was introduced and he’s way badass… he’s also inhabited by Father himself. Say what! That right there was cool enough for me. We find all of our players (minus Silk) down and out and trying to pick themselves up after Rai’s fall. Luna and the Geomancer are hiding out and we receive some wonderful character development for Luna. Psylocke is being interrogated by Father and there’s a nice reveal about his old cartoon series that’s been mentioned previously. Momo and Izak continue their battle, but they might be in some hot water after Izak’s brash actions. And Rai… well he’s alive… for now.
Overall it’s a solid issue. It acts like a first issue because it recaps everything you need to know and reintroduces us to the world and the characters. We know the conflict, we know who is attempting to stop it and who the villain is. For readers that have been with the series from the first issue, well it’s a little dull at times. Matt Kindt manages to avoid huge info dumps, but the overall plot inches forward by the end of the issue. We’re not much further than when we left the eighth issue. Still, he’s balancing a huge cast of characters quite well. The book may be titled Rai, but it’s not just his book. That’s something that Kindt has been carefully constructing from the beginning. After all, this book is taking place in the future of the Valiant U. It’s a book starring the Universe as much as it’s starring Rai.
I enjoy Clayton Crain’s artwork well enough. I don’t think there will ever be a point that I love it, but after nine issues I’m at peace with it. I would love to see another artist take on this world and characters, but at the same time I respect that these two creators are continuing together. There’s something really great about that in the modern comic industry. An industry that no longer makes a big deal about an artist being attached to a series because it’ll change in four to six months. Crain and Kindt have kept a very tight consistency and I can understand that a lot of people really love that about this series.
There are a lot of great little moments, but overall this issue was missing the big hook. I mean Father as the new Rai is sweet and all, but we still want to see the main guy and he’s barely in the issue. Then just when his part is getting good… we’re out! This has been typical of this series so I wasn’t surprised, but yeah I wanted more. I’m glad the book is back and I think this is a great refresher issue for new readers and current readers that may have forgotten where we left off, but now that it’s out of the way, let’s kick it into high gear again.