Review: RAI #9
The critically-acclaimed post-apocalyptic epic races onward in RAI #9! As Rai faces his strongest foe yet, the curtain is pulled back on this sci-fi world, revealing the dark secrets that lurk underneath. Rai and Raijin believe they’ve found sanctuary in the city of New Ur. Meanwhile, Spylocke determines there may be one last hope to defeat Bloodfather: Ray Garrison. Can she reach the former one-many army or has he succumbed to their arch nemesis?
There is no doubt whatsoever that RAI is Valiant’s best title right now, and in my mind one of the top three titles on the racks (it’s certainly the most consistent in quality). Which brings me to a strange conundrum; the consistency and quality of the book is such that beyond talking about the plot itself, there’s little that I haven’t already written about the comic left to say.
It’s honestly a lovely situation to be in.
The following two paragraphs are taken from my review of the previous issue, not because I’m lazy, but because rather than rewrite the same thing in a different way, I’m being economical with our time. If you read the review of the last issue then you can skip them – if not, then you should really check it out.
There’s no question in my mind anymore that Rai is one of the absolute best series from any publisher currently being published. It is unquestionably Valiant’s best. The first volume of the series has been collected in trade, and you can find my reviews of the first, second, third, and fourth issues at those links. Initially, the series took me by surprise – given how much I loved the precursor, Fallen World, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Rai as much as I have. Every issue has been near perfection. The theme of the series has the inclusion of technology in our lives and the potential future we face with an over-reliance on the devices in our hands, pockets, and on our wrists. One could argue I’m reading too much into the comics, but I’d like to counter that. After all, what a reader takes from a book can be different depending on their perspective, and I know there’s too much technology in my life already.
The core concept of the series has been remarkably simple in that Rai and his younger brother figure who is also an older model android, Raijin (it’s not actually as confusing as it sounds, but to fully understand it you may want to circle back through the first volume of Rai written by Matt Kindt), are searching for Offspirng. Pieces of artificially intelligent code that when returned to Bloodfather will make him nigh unstoppable. Each issue centers around Rai and Raijin and their search for more Offspring, giving the series it’s overarching plot line while allowing Dan Abnett to have each issue effectively tell either a whole story or the first (or second) half of one. It’s in these single issues that Abnett explores the various subtexts that lend themselves so well to science fiction.
Back with me?
Okay. After RAI #8 left our heroes confronting a positronic citizen who had absorbed two of Father’s Seeds, RAI #9 picks up as Rai, Raijin and their human companion Alice enter New Ur to learn more about this potential new ally in the war for the planet’s freedom. It’s a slightly slower issue than we’ve seen before, but no less engaging as Raijin tries to puzzle out what his brother is thinking whilst navigating the city’s prejudice to any non-positronic being. Specifically, Alice, who Raijin is determined to protect. There are some great moments in the book, brought to life by Juan José Ryp in is insanely detailed art style; it constantly amazes me how much he packs into each panel and yet it never distracts from what he wants your eye to be drawn to – it’s a unique balance that Ryp strikes, and it elevates every comic he works on.
His detailed yet gentle style has always been among my favourite art styles for action books, and the lack of heavy inking only serves to emphasize the beauty of the art. Man, Ryp’s art is every bit as good as the story, and elevates the comic to an entirely new level. Coloured by Andrew Dalhouse, the visual presentation of the book is near flawless. I’ve been a huge fan of both Ryp and Dalhouse ever since I first saw their work in a Valiant book, and I have never been disappointed by either man’s work; this book, much like every other in the series, is no exception.
There’s a less immediate threat present in RAI #9, but it’s still present just below the surface, giving the comic a sense of building tension that we’ll see playout in the not too distant future (possibly, for example, Rai #10) as Raijin, Alice and Rai find themselves caught in a situation that they may need to fight their way out of.
The subplot of the comic finds Spylocke trying to rescue what’s left of Bloodshot’s mind from deep within Father’s AI in the hopes that the former soldier can assist them in the war to come. It’s a very digitized segment, and much like any images depicting future hacking (or even a visual interpretation of hacking that’s more than a person at a keyboard), you’ll see some strangely sweeping images that wouldn’t look out of place in a comic about LSD and acid. It’s a unusual combination, but one that’s entirely welcome for the juxtaposition in the images it creates in the comic.
With RAI #9, Abnett, Ryp, Dalhouse, and letterer Dave Sharpe have, yet again, delivered a phenomenal comic; if you’ve not been reading the book so far, then this is an excellent time to pick up the trades and find out what you’ve been missing.
Hint: it’s great.
Story: Dan Abnett Artist: Juan José Ryp
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse Letter: Dave Sharpe
Story: 9.4 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review