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Review: Rai #2

Rai #2

Can the cyborg samurai Rai and his robot boy sidekick escape a sentient madhouse in Rai #2?!

I absolutely loved the first issue of the current volume of Rai. I think it’s volume three technically, though it’s the second first issue since Valiant relaunched in 2012. Every aspect of the first issue blew me away. I honestly expected this issue to come off a little poorer in comparison due to that.

Spoiler: It doesn’t.

The first issue had Rai and his older/younger brother Raijin confront a semi stereotypical group of post-apocalyptic enemies in a roving gang of gear heads and dinosaurs. It was a backdrop to the more interesting exploration of the evolution of machines. This issue sees Rai and Raijin continue their search for more pieces of Father – the AI who ran New Japan like a god before Rai brought the floating nation down to Earth in a catastrophic confrontation in an attempt to kill him. Rai failed to kill Father, who took control of Bloodshot’s body and needs only a small number of the Offspring to remake himself entirely.

Rai #2 begins with Rai and Raijin in the hunt for one of the Offspring Father needs to absorb. It takes them through a sector of New Japan that fell to earth which bears a strong resemblance to a derelict North American city circa the turn of the 21st century. That strikes quite the dichotomy with a rather idyllic looking model home. It isn’t much of a spoiler to say that Rai and Raijin approach and enter the home. By the time the fourth page is over they’re in the house.

Dan Abnett comes at the artificial intelligence angle from a slightly different perspective in the second issue. Rather than a discussion between two brothers (though the dynamic is a unique one; the chronologically older one is the child, whilst the younger one act much more adult like), Abnett uses the AI within the house to ask whether it is ethical to create artificial assistants with enough autonomy to function and then leave them alone for a significant period of time. For anyone who talks to a Siri, Alexa or Google, I’m sure that you’ve often wanted a physical representation of the virtual assistant to make you a real cup of coffee. What if you were able to get one that eventually fell into disuse?

It’s at this point that the comic distinguishes itself as more than just a follow up to an issue of the year contender. It stands as a fantastic issue in its own right. Dan Abnett two for two when it comes to fantastic issues. If he can keep this level of quality up, Rai will go down as one of the best comic series.

Yes, I think it’s that good.

Joining Abnett is the ever astounding artist Juan Jose Ryp and colourist Andrew Dalhouse. The pair were spectacular last week, and are just as good here. Ryp’s hyper detailed style is superbly suited for a post apocalyptic world, and the way he shifts from the derelict and abandoned streets to the manicured lawn and clean lines of the model home is almost jarring. Dalhouse’s colouring also plays a part in the transition between the two settings. His work is also top notch in Rai #2; the starkness of the streets contrasts powerfully with the model home, as is emblematic of the comic’s soul.

Rai #1 was one of the best comics I’d read all year, and much to my surprise the second issue is every bit as good as the first. Welcome to your new favorite series.

Writer: Dan Abnett Artist: Juan Jose Ryp
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse Letter: Dave Sharpe

Story: 9.7 Art: 9.9 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Rai #2

RAI #2

Written by DAN ABNETT
Art by JUAN JOSÉ RYP
Colors by ANDREW DALHOUSE
Letters by DAVE SHARPE
Cover A by KAEL NGU
Cover B by DAVE JOHNSON
Cover C by ADAM POLLINA
Preorder Edition Cover by JAVIER PULIDO
On sale DECEMBER 11 | 32 pages, full color | $3.99 US | T+

Can the cyborg samurai Rai and his robot boy sidekick escape a sentient madhouse?!

“The Long Shot” Begins in Bloodshot #4 this December

Bloodshot #4 unleashes Valiant‘s supersoldier on a brand-new mission this December!

It’s bullets vs. claws in the first chapter of “The Long Shot,” a gripping new story starring the nanite-infused hero. Trapped in a bullet train, Bloodshot and his new allies, the Burned, square off against fearsome creatures in Bloodshot #4, an action-packed issue that serves as the perfect jumping on point before Vin Diesel makes his big screen debut as Bloodshot next year! The can’t-miss issue is crafted by best-selling writer Tim Seeley, iconic artist Brett Booth, inker Adelso Corona, colorist Andrew Dalhouse, and letterer Dave Sharpe

Check out a preview of Blooshot #4‘s mayhem below! It goes on sale December 18th, 2019, and features covers by Declan ShalveyMike McKoneMarc Laming, and a preorder cover by Simon Bisley.

Blooshot #4

Advance Review: Rai #2

Rai #2

Can the cyborg samurai Rai and his robot boy sidekick escape a sentient madhouse in Rai #2?!

I absolutely loved the first issue of the current volume of Rai. I think it’s volume three technically, though it’s the second first issue since Valiant relaunched in 2012. Every aspect of the first issue blew me away. I honestly expected this issue to come off a little poorer in comparison due to that.

Spoiler: It doesn’t.

The first issue had Rai and his older/younger brother Raijin confront a semi stereotypical group of post-apocalyptic enemies in a roving gang of gear heads and dinosaurs. It was a backdrop to the more interesting exploration of the evolution of machines. This issue sees Rai and Raijin continue their search for more pieces of Father – the AI who ran New Japan like a god before Rai brought the floating nation down to Earth in a catastrophic confrontation in an attempt to kill him. Rai failed to kill Father, who took control of Bloodshot’s body and needs only a small number of the Offspring to remake himself entirely.

Rai #2 begins with Rai and Raijin in the hunt for one of the Offspring Father needs to absorb. It takes them through a sector of New Japan that fell to earth which bears a strong resemblance to a derelict North American city circa the turn of the 21st century. That strikes quite the dichotomy with a rather idyllic looking model home. It isn’t much of a spoiler to say that Rai and Raijin approach and enter the home. By the time the fourth page is over they’re in the house.

Dan Abnett comes at the artificial intelligence angle from a slightly different perspective in the second issue. Rather than a discussion between two brothers (though the dynamic is a unique one; the chronologically older one is the child, whilst the younger one act much more adult like), Abnett uses the AI within the house to ask whether it is ethical to create artificial assistants with enough autonomy to function and then leave them alone for a significant period of time. For anyone who talks to a Siri, Alexa or Google, I’m sure that you’ve often wanted a physical representation of the virtual assistant to make you a real cup of coffee. What if you were able to get one that eventually fell into disuse?

It’s at this point that the comic distinguishes itself as more than just a follow up to an issue of the year contender. It stands as a fantastic issue in its own right. Dan Abnett two for two when it comes to fantastic issues. If he can keep this level of quality up, Rai will go down as one of the best comic series.

Yes, I think it’s that good.

Joining Abnett is the ever astounding artist Juan Jose Ryp and colourist Andrew Dalhouse. The pair were spectacular last week, and are just as good here. Ryp’s hyper detailed style is superbly suited for a post apocalyptic world, and the way he shifts from the derelict and abandoned streets to the manicured lawn and clean lines of the model home is almost jarring. Dalhouse’s colouring also plays a part in the transition between the two settings. His work is also top notch in Rai #2; the starkness of the streets contrasts powerfully with the model home, as is emblematic of the comic’s soul.

Rai #1 was one of the best comics I’d read all year, and much to my surprise the second issue is every bit as good as the first. Welcome to your new favorite series.

Writer: Dan Abnett Artist: Juan Jose Ryp
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse Letter: Dave Sharpe

Story: 9.7 Art: 9.9 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Bloodshot #3

Bloodshot #3

Break out the popcorn before Bloodshot hits the big screen and witness the supersoldier unleashed in Bloodshot #3!

The origin issue of Eidolon, Bloodshot’s greatest nemesis in the making!

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you’ve seen a popcorn action movie of some kind. The kind where you can walk in and just turn your brain off, munch some snacks and drink a Coke. You really don’t need to think about too much other than just enjoying what’s happening in front of your eyes. You know exactly what you’re getting, and the film delivers in every aspect.

The reason this is relevant is that this comic is as popcorn as they come. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as your expectations are in the right place. Gone is the character-driven series penned by Jeff Lemire. His work is acknowledged within Bloodshot #3. That answers one of the questions I had with this series. That’s surrounding where the book fits in the character’s continuity.

Tim Seeley continues his breakneck pace for the third issue, moving the plot along in a swift manner that allows him to use every page within the comic to further the plot, whilst only barely fleshing out one or two of the supporting cast. The end result of this is a comic that focuses more on the visualization of the writer’s vision and the furtherance of the plot than the characters within the comics pages.

Seeley is joined by artist Brett Booth, inker Adelso Corona, colorist Andrew Dalhouse, and letterer Dave Sharpe, none of who seem to have wasted any energy or talent in moving the book along. The state of Bloodshot throughout this book is wonderfully uncomfortable as we see Bloodshot’s physical degradation reach new highs (or lows) as the character comes face to face with a new enemy who really tests the limits of Bloodshot’s powers. the art work for this sequence is messy (for clarification, I am not saying that messy is a bad thing in the case) and just oozes pain and suffering as you’re reading the comic.

Once again, this is a fairly straight forward and simple comic book story. It’s the epitome of a popcorn comic, but it does its job very well. At entertain rip through another twenty odd pages in the series that’ll likely wrap up eaely next year, conveniently just in time to be released in a trade. If you want some high octane action in your comic books, then you really can’t go wrong with this series. Each issue has been popcorn comics at its finest.

It’s a very fun book, and sometimes that’s all a comic needs to be.

Story: Tim Seeley Art: Brett Booth
Ink: Adelso Corona Color: Andrew Dalhouse Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Story: 8.9 Art: 9.1 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Rai #1

RAI #1

Welcome to the 41st century: New worlds, new characters, new adventures await kicking off in Rai #1.
Valiant’s critically celebrated cyborg ronin named Rai embarks on a thrilling quest to save the future.

Every so often, a comic comes along that blows your expectations away. Rai #1 is one of those comics.

This series picks up after the events of Fallen World. It was a mini-series the cynical would suggest only exists in order to launch this series. I enjoyed Fallen World, although I felt it dropped a bit in quality after the first two issues. Though it wasn’t much, there was definitely a downward slope after the third issue. Writer Dan Abnett reversed the slope for the fifth issue to end on a highlight. Whether he knew he was setting up Rai #1 with Fallen World #5 or not, he was able to end the series on a high note. It provided an ending that satisfied the miniseries whilst ramping up anticipation for Rai #1.

Abnett builds upon Fallen World, and indeed 4001 A.D. He delivers what amounts to a buddy-cop comic with two brothers looking to stop their father from enslaving the world. There’s a bit more to it than that. The older brother is the child, and in order to stop their father, Rai and Raijin have to stop him from rebooting his AI system by gathering more pieces of himself scattered across the post apocalyptic Earth of 4002 AD.

The relationship between the two Rai warms the page; the smaller Raijin is a fully synthetic being, unable to grow or age beyond his current stature but is the first model of Rai whereas the adult looking Rai, the Rai of the title, is the newest model – and half human – which leads to some clever dialogue between the two characters, and gives Abnett plenty of room to explore what it means to be human and how we think of AI and robots in science fiction.

Joining Abnett is the ever astounding artist Juan Jose Ryp and colourist Andrew Dalhouse. The pair have delivered one of the best looking comics you’re going to read this week – or even this year. Ryp’s hyper detailed style is superbly suited for a post apocalyptic world where things have been pulled together out of scraps from the previous two millennium, the mechanical advancement and subsequent regression between our time and 4002 is captured brilliantly on the page without it ever needing to be explicitly discussed. And then we have then way that he frames his shots, generally sticking to a horizontal grid until he needs to highlight a character’s actions or choices, which will result in a breaking of the grid as the character soars or needs to take center stage.

Ryp’s grasp of visual storytelling is on point here, and with Rai #1he underlines his name as one of the finest artists in comics today.

Dalhouse is superb in bringing the artwork to life. The vibrant colours and subtle use of clouds in the blue sky early in the comic is beautiful in its simplicity. Post apocalyptic tales often have the reputation of being set in a boring barren brown wasteland, and while that’s still the case here (at least as far as the first issue goes), there’s nothing boring about the way Dalhouse has coloured this book. He adds a vibrant soul to the comic that would be noticed if it was missing – even if you couldn’t put a finger on what you would be missing.

You can read the first eight pages below if you want a taste of the book. They’re perhaps the best opening to a comic I’ve read in a long time.

Perhaps the only “flaw” in the book is that it builds upon around twenty five issues across three series. Yes, having read those will help you (even just the two mentioned previously; 4001 A.D. and Fallen World, though the first volume of Rai is also very good), but if you’re coming in to this volume of Rai unfamiliar with the characters then you won’t be lost. At all. This issue establishes who the two lead characters are, their motivations and their capabilities in an organic way. The review copy I read didn’t have a recap page, but the comic doesn’t need it.

Rai #1 is one of the best comics I’ve read all year. This is a comic that has (almost) everything you could want in a comic. I say almost because there’s always something you can nitpick with any issue, though I have yet to find anything to moan about with Rai #1. I cannot recommend this book enough.

This is going to be something special.

Writer: Dan Abnett Artist: Juan Jose Ryp
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse Letter: Dave Sharpe

Story: 9.7 Art: 9.9 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Bloodshot #2

Bloodshot #2

Bloodshot’s enemies are closing in. Can he unleash all of his abilities in time to survive in Bloodshot #2?

The supersoldier is no stranger to war, but this is a whole new kind of enemy…

And who is the mysterious masked woman called Eidolon?!

I’m not going to bother writing too much of a preamble to this book. I feel that it would be a disservice to a comic that’s a high octane thrill ride to pad out the review with an anecdote at the beginning.

Well, pad it out any more than I have done.

Bloodshot #2 is as close to an action movie in comic form as you could possibly get. There’s a lot going in this book that propels the plot along far faster than we typically see in a comic today. In comparison to books from twenty years ago when a single issue would often tell a long story. The pace of the book will take you off guard. Tim Seeley just doesn’t give you a chance to breathe. And for the most part that breathlessness works very well. Perhaps the only time where it doesn’t is at the very beginning when Bloodshot is in the air. The previous issue had him bloodied on the ground. Because it’s not integral to the plot as a whole after the second panel, I ended up just enjoying the art in the panel and moving on.

Seeley is joined by artist Brett Booth, inker Adelso Corona, colorist Andrew Dalhouse, and letterer Dave Sharpe. They all seem to follow the principle of moving the comic as swiftly as possible. The artists do this with some very clean and vibrant artwork. There’s a touch of the uncomfortable as Bloodshot seems to melt for a couple of panels. It’s for a reason, thankfully.

We find out precious little about Eidolin, the character teased in the preview text other than her capabilities. That’s pretty par for the course, I suppose. As is the disproportionate amount of action scenes in the book. That’s not entirely a bad thing when you’ve got these artistic chops on the book.

Once again, this is a fairly straight forward and simple comic book story. As one of my most remembered commercials would often say, Bloodshot #2 does exactly what it says on the tin. There are no real surprises here. If you’re looking for a comic that’ll make you rethink your place in life, then this isn’t it. But if you want some high octane action then you really can’t go wrong with this series.

It’s a very fun book, and sometimes that’s all a comic needs to be.

Story: Tim Seeley Art: Brett Booth
Ink: Adelso Corona Color: Andrew Dalhouse Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Story: 8.9 Art: 9.1 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Bloodshot #1

Bloodshot #1

Bloodshot is back with a few new thrilling tricks up his sleeve in Bloodshot #1!

No amount of high-octane explosions can keep Bloodshot from completing his new mission. Who is the mysterious BLACK BAR, and what do they want with Bloodshot?

Bloodshot: Rising Spirit left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. It wasn’t bad on the whole. A lot of the positives from that series writing comes from the contributions of Eliot Rahal. It stumbled artistically too in places. On the whole, was far from the quality of the previous Bloodshot series Reborn and Salvation.

Bloodshot #1 washes that taste entirely from my mouth.

Reading this comic the week of the real G7 Summit gives the comic a very timely feel. I particularly enjoyed the real world nod to the British Prime Minister’s first introduction to this level of the political sphere. It’s through his eyes that we are first (re)introduced to Bloodshot. Writer Tim Seeley, artist Brett Booth, inker Adelso Corona, colorist Andrew Dalhouse, and letterer Dave Sharpe make the bold, and much appreciated, choice not to retell the character’s origin.

Again.

Instead, for those who may be coming to this series because of the upcoming movie (release date of which is currently billed as February 2020) there is a brief recap of how the character came to be. It makes sense within the story and only needs just over a page and change. Most of that is dedicated to visual homages to previous series. That serves as a nice tip of the hat to longtime readers, and just looks awesome for newcomers (and everyone, really).

The comic’s story is, when you really look at it, pretty straight forward. There are no real surprises, though there’s nothing telegraphed either. Which is a strange sentence to write, but I’ll stick by it. Bloodshot #1 is a perfect (re)introduction to Bloodshot. It’s packed with exactly what you’d hope from with a character who is a walking army. It’s an extended fight sequence lovingly brought to life by the artistic team and some exposition along with explanation as to the general direction Seeley and the team will be taking Bloodshot over the next few issues.

It is, ultimately, a fairly straight forward and simple comic book story.

But the simplicity of the plot is actually one of the comic’s strengths and is the reason that you’ll be coming back. The simplicity is the hook. It pulls you in and you’re reminded that a comic doesn’t need to have anything more than the perfect balance of words and pictures to be a great piece of art.

Seeley doesn’t try to over complicate things, leaving plenty of room in the story for Booth, Corona and Dalhouse to flex their creative muscles. The art in this comic is right up my alley; clean lines, interesting panel usage and layouts, and some sharp and subtle colouring work. There’s a timelessness to this issue’s art; it looks as though it could have been published at any point in the last fifteen years whilst remaining fresh and exciting from cover to cover. Dalhouse utilizes a colouring method that feels far less digitally coloured than it probably is – his work adds a warmth to Booth and Corona’s black and white artwork.

As an issue, Bloodshot #1 is a comic with the final product being greater than the sum of its parts. I absolutely love it.

The list of comics I’ve read this week that are as good as Bloodshot #1 is depressingly small. This is just the ticket if you want an action-packed explosion of fun on your pull list.

Make no mistake, I will be buying this when it’s released next month.

Story: Tim Seeley Art: Brett Booth
Ink: Adelso Corona Color: Andrew Dalhouse Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Story: 8.9 Art: 9.1 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Bloodshot #1

BLOODSHOT #1

Written by TIM SEELEY
Art by BRETT BOOTH
Inks by ADELSO CORONA
Colors by ANDREW DALHOUSE
Letters by DAVE SHARPE
Cover A by DECLAN SHALVEY
Cover B by DAVE JOHNSON
Cover C by HANNAH TEMPLER
Cover D B/W/R Variant by JONBOY MEYERS
Pre-Order Edition by TIM SALE
Carbon Fiber Finish Variant Edition by JONBOY MEYERS
FOC on SEPTEMBER 2nd (reviews by then are greatly appreciated)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale SEPTEMBER 25th

An all-new ongoing series starts here!

Bloodshot is a nanite-fueled supersoldier forever at war. What happens to the world when he starts picking his own battles?

Will this one-man army be able to end the fighting—or just leave more destruction in his wake?

BLOODSHOT #1

Preview: Bloodshot #1

BLOODSHOT #1

Written by TIM SEELEY
Art by BRETT BOOTH
Inks by ADELSO CORONA
Colors by ANDREW DALHOUSE
Letters by DAVE SHARPE
Cover A by DECLAN SHALVEY
Cover B by DAVE JOHNSON
Cover C by HANNAH TEMPLER
Cover D B/W/R Variant by JONBOY MEYERS
Pre-Order Edition by TIM SALE
Carbon Fiber Finish Variant Edition by JONBOY MEYERS
FOC on SEPTEMBER 2nd (reviews by then are greatly appreciated)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale SEPTEMBER 25th

An all-new ongoing series starts here!

Bloodshot is a nanite-fueled supersoldier forever at war. What happens to the world when he starts picking his own battles?

Will this one-man army be able to end the fighting—or just leave more destruction in his wake?

BLOODSHOT #1
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