Reflections on Rai issues 14 and 15

Reshaping the world in your own image of what peace and prosperity means can at the very least be daunting if not fatal. Father attempts to defy these odds by separating New Japan from the rest of the earth, jettisoning it into space and creating a protector to suit the needs of his utopia. With each Rai he creates more discontent ensues. There are rebellions and uprisings but they are usually quashed by the Rai of that generation. This is until a female Rai emerges to be a mother to her people. Sai tried through love and understanding to unite those of New Japan under the umbrella of Father. Instead of breathing a sense of hopefulness in this world, it bred apathy among the populace and ideas of insurrection by synthesized-type droids called Positrons.

Throughout the 14th issue the reader gets a history of the Rai, men and women created by Father to be what New Japan needed for 100-years. Between the Rai who resembles a young boy to the present Sai there has been a willing relinquishment of the title. But the Rais are evolving and with that the will to not follow blindly, to question Father’s actions. And Father doesn’t like his authority questioned. But it is the return of Aboto that furthers this narrative and compels you to read further.

A hardened executioner Aboto is the Rai who must redeem himself. Cast out like Lucifer Morningstar he languishes on earth. However unlike Satan, Aboto is asked to return to the fold. This is the beginning of Father’s mistakes.

Read together, issues 14 and 15 of Rai give you a clearer understanding of what takes place in 4001. More importantly Matt Kindt shows how everyone including Father’s creations are evolving except Father himself. He has remained unenlightened. Instead of learning from his mistakes he continues to break off the parts of New Japan that are not abiding by his rules. At this rate New Japan will look like a torso with all the limbs torn off. This is the difficulty of attempting to control humanity. We must remember that Father himself is a sentient machine of sorts doing what he believes is best for a society that can at times be dominated by their emotions. Yes, humans have the ability to reason, but as we’ve seen throughout this comic book series when people gather together in large amounts they turn into a pack of violent animals. Animals with working thumbs and that’s never a good thing.

Kindt along with Cafu’s art gives a striking complexity to both these issues. As companions the words and art are telling two stories simultaneously. The reader is able to see the foundation of what the current Rai is going through in 4001 and how there may be other Rais out there. The telling of what occurs in New Japan is a rich world within the Valiant universe. One which exists outside the framework of the current titles, yet integral to their ongoing storylines. What happens in issue 16 will no doubt blow Father’s idea of utopia wide open. The thing is who is going to survive? And will New Japan remain in the sky or fall back down to earth?

About Donna-Lyn Washington 618 Articles
Donna-lyn Washington has a M.A. in English from Brooklyn College. She is currently teaching at Kingsborough Community College where her love of comics and pop culture play key parts in helping her students move forward in their academic careers. As a senior writer for ReviewFix she has been able to explore a variety of worlds through comics, film and television and has met some interesting writers and artists along the way. Donna-lyn does a weekly podcast reviewing indie comics and has also contributed entries to the 'Encyclopedia of Black Comics,’ the academic anthology ‘Critical Insights: Frank Yerby’ and is the editor for the upcoming book, ‘Conversations With: John Jennings.’

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