Humanity is a dangerous thing. For some they crave it while not understanding how it works. Rai is such an entity. Born out of the ooze of the artificial intelligence called Allfather and from a human mother, Rai has strived to be human with only a perceived notion of what it means to be so. It’s Raijin, his older, yet younger looking brother who seems to understand what it means to be an individual. In issue 7 of ‘Rai’ the title character begins to comprehend being a person includes guilt and regret.
During this journey of Rai out to destroy the All-Father who has absorbed the nanites of Bloodshot and is now being called Bloodfather, he, big brother Raijin and Alice Klane run for shelter. The panels are intense showing these three make a frenzied dash from an artificial, then supernatural storm into a metal refuge. Artist, Juan Jose Ryp, colorist Andrew Dalhouse and letterer Dave Sharpe show biblical swarms, then scorched earth. In the interim Rai is schooled by Alice. While he continually talks about his objective, Alice tells him and Raijin how she was psychically raped and forced to murder people. Alice wants Rai to understand that he was not doing her a kindness by not killing her. This is another area where Ryp et al shine. As Alice relays what happened to her before and after she encountered in a previous issue, Rai slowly goes from repeating his goal to averting his gaze, turning his head to the side, then hanging his head in shame. As Alice punctuates her fear of knowing what happened to her and then being abandoned by Rai it becomes a moment where we see for the first time that Rai is beginning to know what it’s like to not only be sentient. Understanding your actions is one thing, being faced with the choices you’ve made for others is something else.
There’s also the looming knowledge that Rai will eventually have to kill his brother Raijin to rid Bloodfather of any way of returning to a corporal form. While Raijin accepts what will happen to him neither speak of it. When The Eternal Warrior brings this up in issue 5, Rai still doesn’t want to face it. But what does it mean to be human if the only relationships you have are based on duty? Instead of supplicating to a fate of killing your brother, an evolving A.I why not also figure out a way to save him? After all can’t Rai multitask? Being at least partly human isn’t Rai also evolving?
Bigger problems are looming for Rai and Raijin. Spylocke finding out how Ray Garrison got trapped into a mind-boggling prison by Bloodfather could be the key to helping Rai. But there’s also a civil war between nature and what Rai calls a ‘nanite swarm.’ In Bloodfather’s desperation for survival he just may eradicate all existence. Dan Abnett has written a narrative that starts out as a futuristic western that now includes a fight for humanity. Most importantly, this story has always been about Rai and now the paradigm of his quest to be human may include what it means to be part of a family. Everything can’t always be about obligation, sometimes you need to share in kindness. It’s like Alice says ‘people help people.’