Review: 4001 A.D. #1

4001_001_COVER-A_CRAINWith the summer coming, it’s also about time for the yearly Comic Book Event to hit. Marvel have Civil War II, DC have their Rebirth, and Valiant, a company with arguably the best superhero universe in comics right now, are launching 4001 A.D. Of the three mentioned, there’s really only one that I’m looking forward to enough not to trade-wait or ignore, and that’s 4001 A.D. (which really shouldn’t come as a surprise to any who’ve listened to me rant about the publisher in the past year).

Valiant‘s 4001 A.D. spins directly out from the last couple of issues of Rai, which may be a bit of an issue for readers looking to jump right on with this event – although that is certainly possible to do with the information given in the three detailed recap pages, you won’t get the full nuances of the relationships between some of the featured characters. It’s not the end of the world, and won’t prevent you from enjoying the opening issue, but it’ll certainly help if you’ve read the prelude in Rai.

So what’s the event about? Well the preview text below will give you a bit of background to the event from those issues (this is also found in the recap pages, too).

One hundred years from today, Father – the benevolent artificial intelligence that governs the island nation of Japan – will gain sentience. To defend its borders, Father will take drastic action by launching Japan into space…where its people will thrive in isolation, away from the overpopulated and resource-deprived planet below. Over the centuries, as New Japan orbits our increasingly unstable world, it will become a model society – one built on peace, prosperity… and Father’s control.

A thousand years from today, Father will create the first Rai, founding a lineage of technologically enhanced heroes engineered to defend New Japan and sworn to protect it from all enemies. For hundreds of years into the future, the Rai will single-handedly enforce New Japan’s justice well…and serve Father without question.

Now, at the dawn of 4001 A.D., the latest Rai is about to inherit the dark truth behind the origin of his kind…and discover the sinister secret at the heart of Father’s existence. For New Japan to live, Earth must die…and as Rai challenges his former master for the first time in more than a millennium, the lone guardian of New Japan will be cast out of his own Father’s kingdom…

Exiled from the only realm he’s ever known, Rai now walks the ravaged world of 4001 A.D. in search of forgotten heroes like himself… on a mission to collect the last surviving legends of a broken planet…and to forge a rebellion with the power to bring the most advanced civilization in history crashing back down to Earth.

The first issue of the event proper was very good, and despite my high expectations, I really enjoyed it. The first time I read 4001 A.D. #1 was on my iPhone while waiting in line at a theme park in Florida, and I remember thinking that aside from an excellent way to pass the time, the artwork was stunning. Does said artwork hold up on a bigger laptop screen, and in print?

Oh yes. Very much so. Clayton Crain and David Mack have an ethereal style that works so well for this comic – there’s a feeling of something special here, and a lot of that is because of the atmospheric artwork.

I mentioned earlier that if you haven’t been reading Rai (which, for my money, is one of the best looking comics around) then you may be a little lost here – although the little prologue in the Free Comic Book Day issue will help (a little), the fact remains that this event spins directly from an ongoing comic, and so it’s tough to judge the story as a standalone comic at this point. While I really enjoyed the first issue, those who are picking 4001 A.D. #1 up as their introduction to Valiant may be a little lost, but the issue should still be accessible and enjoyable regardless.

Valiant‘s summer event is off to a cracking start, and I can’t wait to see how it proceeds in the coming weeks and months.

Story: Matt Kindt Artists: Clayton Crain, David Mack
Story: 8.75 Art: 9.75 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided a FREE copy for review, but I purchased the print version