The summer of 4001 A.D. is finally upon us! If I am going to be completely honest, I wasn’t as excited for this as I was for other events that they had done in the past. This is because I know very little about the book’s main character Rai. I recently got a crash course about him at Wondercon thanks to a great conversation I had with Dinesh Shamdasani at their booth and later at their panel. What also helped me was the Free Comic Book Day Special issue entitled “Valiant 2016” which includes a prologue to 4001 A.D. giving you a crash course as to what is New Japan, who Rai is and what is his current status. Lucky for me I had a very long week so I actually got to read the special first (which is why this review is so late, sorry life happens). In the beginning of the first issue of this book we also get some more history and a little bit of information about the characters. So by the time you actually get to the story even if you haven’t read any of the Rai titles you know enough to get by any enjoy the book, Valiant has always been very good at keeping its readers in the loop whether it’s just a reminder or new information all together.
By the time we get into the story itself, we find that the ruler of New Japan known as “Father” is desperately trying to remove a virus from its system that Lula had implanted, he reminds me somewhat of Brother Eye from Batman Beyond. So desperate in fact that he is starting to remove sections of New Japan and hurling them back to earth, most of which do not make it there. The one who had made it there is Rai, who we find on earth with Lemur and Gilad (The Eternal Warrior). They seek out a Giant Knight from the “Great X-O War” and it looks like there is one hidden inside a mountain. They are able to fire it up and head straight back into space where they come face to face with Father. But he has a contingency plan in place, if he is going down, so is New Japan as he transforms it into a dragon to fight off Rai. So in order to save New Japan, it looks like he may have to destroy it as well, does that make any sense? That is a very ambitious way to write a story and I cannot wait to see how this plays out in the upcoming months.
Overall a very solid start to the event and I can’t wait to see the roles of the other characters that will have their own tie-in books in the upcoming weeks and months. I think that my favorite thing about this book is Father’s desperate attitude towards staying in power and even alive. Even though he is an artificial intelligence, you can really sense the fear he or it has of losing control, because he is going to go as far as putting all of New Japan on the line in order to defeat Rai, not to mention what he does to the board of directors of New Japan near the end. It goes back to that old cliché about what happens when you corner a wounded animal or in this case a wounded AI. As far as the the artwork, I love the colors and the shading though out the book, I just don’t care too much for the faces. The panels of Rai, Lemur and Gilad in the cave are my favorite, so beautifully done especially with the effect of rain. It should be no surprise that this is really good as Valiant Entertainment has a very good track record (in my opinion) with their events. With that being said, I think now I will also need to take some time to backtrack and catch up on some Rai books to get a better understanding of the characters. If you haven’t picked this up yet I highly recommend it as it looks like it’s going to be a wild one.
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Written by: Matt Kindt
Artwork by: Clayton Crain & David Mack