Written By: Matt Kindt
Art By: Clayton Crain & David Mack
In what seems like an every few month occurrence, the Valiant line of comics is coming up on another event book in 4001 AD. For me, every new Valiant book warrants a look, and when it has the creative team of this one, it’s just an added bonus. Also, after hearing some positive buzz on the book for PCU’s Paul DiNello, I was on the edge waiting to get my hands on this issue. Valiant hasn’t really let me down yet, and it’s not looking like they’re going to start now.
Before we get into the details of the issue, I want to applaud the whole team of this book on bringing any new reader up to speed with some beautifully constructed first few pages. Since this book is more or less a continuation of the Rai ongoing, these pages recap all the necessary info for reading this book, which is essential when starting an event like this. Onto the book, we are launched into a world thousands of years in the future (hence the title) where Japan has become a floating utopia above a destroyed and wild Earth. When the ruler and controller of Japan, an AI named “Father” is attacked with a virus, it begins to “cut off limbs” which are sectors and send them hurtling toward Earth. We are placed into the story through the eyes of Lula Lee and Rai. Lula is the one who put the virus into New Japan, in working with Rai, and is now on the run. Rai, on the other hand, is on Earth with a Valiant universe favorite, looking for a way to fight Father. While I felt the issue did a good job in setting up this series, this really felt just like an issue of Rai. I’m all about getting new eyes on this series, and I can acknowledge the actions in the issue will have world changing effects, but this still felt pretty nestled into it’s own Rai world. That said, I’m sure a lot of this will be solved with the tie in issues, and as the mini goes on. Matt Kindt, again, proves that he is one of the best writers at Valiant here, giving us compelling characters, and managing to make these AI characters in Father and partially Rai very human. In addition, I love how he manages to take very specific stories, like the one he’s doing in Ninjak, and balance it with a world shattering one like this. The story beats build up to an impending explosion, literally, and the payoff leaves us guessing for that next issue. It’s a great example of how to manipulate a reader with comic book pacing.
While I was on the edge of my seat with Kindt’s story beats, the art tripped me up on many occasions. Clayton Crain’s work on Rai has been some of the best he’s done, but this issue suffered from some overly muddied coloring, which led to unclear panels. With Kindt’s pacing moving so quickly, having to really stare at a panel to figure out exactly what’s being rendered slowed the whole book down. That being said, when it was clear, it was beautiful. Crain manages to work in some effervescent futuristic colors to really pop from his heavy darks. There’s also a sense of futuristic rendering and tech in the buildings and overall world, but there’s also a very organic feel. Even though it’s obvious that we’re in the future, it still feels Earthly in some way. In contrast, the recap pages I mentioned earlier were rendered and designed by David Mack, in a traditional Japanese art style; like you’d see in a museum or something like that. When I last saw David Mack in a book like Daredevil, his pages were almost too overwhelming. Theses pages, however, were much more sparse, really giving credence to the idea that “less is more”. Even though these were more or less static images, it worked for the words and idea of the pages, sucking the reader in and not overwhelming before the main story.
In short, I really enjoyed this issue, with a few caveats. I know Crain has some better work in him, and I’m hoping it’ll come out in later issues of this series. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the incredible Matt Kindt on the script.
4 Armors out of 5