Full disclosure? I had not read a RAI title before diving into Rai #13 from Matt Kindt, CAFU and Dave Lanphear. So this review is from the perspective of someone TOTALLY new to this world of New Japan, Father and Raddies.
It is a world I now intend to visit, far more often.
RAI #13 is a 4001AD tie-in for Valiant but it does an incredible job welcoming in new readers to the series. This current incarnation of Rai is a deeply sci-fi take on the character, which I am totally digging. The setting for our story is New Japan, a country that orbits Earth and is filled to the brim with people wishing for their old lives. New Japan is governed by a mysterious "force" or possibly an all-controlling being. The mystery of what exactly Father is actually made me love this book more. There are just enough cards on the table to understand the game but not enough to give away the payoff.
Father develops the first Rai to give the people of New Japan a symbol of hope. How humanity reacts and what Father does are where the story gets truly intriguing. Kindt does a phenomenal job of setting the table for new readers. This issue truly is a "get on board" moment, before the train starts moving. We're given a very solid look into New Japan and it's general mythos before being launched into the greater story of the Rai and Father. Kindt's descriptions and word choice is excellent, as well, while the voice of Father is distinctly God-like, yet humanly confused.
CAFU is on the art for this book alongside colorist Dave Lanphear. They do a really bang-up job, honestly. If you aren't familiar with CAFU, he's done quite a bit of work for DC including the acclaimed T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents series alongside Nick Spencer. Having also worked on Black Panther for Marvel and a score of Valiant titles, CAFU does really well showcasing the emotions of Rai.
The innocence, the genuine joy of helping people is abundant while the serious moments are not lost. Lanphear's colors shine in the more intense scenes and are mellow where appropriate.
FINAL RATING: 8/10 Positrons
A sci-fi saga just taking off that's original and entertaining with solid art. Interested in where the story goes and excited enough to suggest others pick this title up. This book hits shelves May 18th.