So, Team Rai has infiltrated deep into New Japan. The final battle is about to commence.
Written by Matt Kindt
Illustrated by Clayton Crain
Reunion! The war against Father turns in favor of the 41st century’s revolutionary heroes as Rai finds his long-lost friends aboard the monstrosity that has become New Japan. But even together, can Rai and his allies stand against Father’s defenses? And can they rescue what remains of New Japan before it crashes down to Earth and destroys everything?and everyone? New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt (DIVINITY) and superstar artist Clayton Crain (RAI) continue the summer’s blockbuster event in the year 4001 A.D.!
Once again, we return to this. The “4001 A.D.” Event ever further towards its ending. I’ll start this off plain and simple: this issue is a bit better than issue #2, which feels like it was released 50,000 years ago. That large gap between issues makes a recap page important. In fact, a big criticism I have with this issue starts there.
I like recap pages. I think, in a medium that is still dominantly focused in receiving twenty pages of story every (let’s be generous) thirty days, having a well done recap page is essential. And you know what, Valiant does make pretty good recap pages for people. Even for brand new series like “Imperium” or “A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong”, it really works to get a newcomer to have the basics down without having to dedicate interior page space to that purpose. You know: like this issue does. Four pages of this issue were dedicated to a visual recap of the previous events, a fifth of the issue! It has become a pet peeve of mine when books with recap pages decide to just recap the story again within the story. It feels like wastes of space. This happened in “Civil War II” #3 as well (in a more text-dump way), but at least “4001 A.D.” #3 has the benefit of not being human liquid dog shit.
This is the big action climax of the series, as Rai, Eternal Warrior, Lula, and the rest of the heroes continue their fight through New Japan. But that’s not all the characters here. Kindt gets to really crank open the valve on the world of 4001 as Lula and the Geomancer launch a prison break in New Japan and release a load of Father’s enemies. It unleashes a plethora of nods to the “present” of the Valiant Universe, some that are more expanding on concepts (W.A.R. Corps) and others that are more direct (I did not expect Sunlight on Snow, one of the best characters Valiant introduced last year, to make an appearance).
This issue also sees the confrontation between Rai and Father; Kindt does pull it off well for the most part. The build-up all the way from “Rai #1” to the now has been satisfying, in particular in how really action-light it kind of is. It’s a more personal and emotional confrontation than a standard superhero third act punchup and it is all the stronger for it.
That said, remember that I said Kindt pulls it off “for the most part”? Well, there is the part where it comes off that Father commits, what is known as, the “Moral Event Horizon”. That trope is basically when a character crosses the point of no return, beyond redemption. So when I see this Moral Event Horizon occur and Rai pretty much stating to that effect, I have to say: Really? This is the action that convinces Rai that Father is beyond redemption? I mean, Father has committed a boat load of atrocities over the course of Valiant re-establishing the 4001 side of the universe. This particular one is -while sad and tragic for Rai- comes off as just incredibly small potatoes? I’m not sure if I’ve just been exposed to so many world-ending events in comics that have made me incredibly jaded or if I’m just a cold bastard.
Once more, Clayton Crain’s artwork is perhaps the biggest draw this book has. The painted style fits so well with the future that Kindt writes. He has been an artist that can go crazy in details of what he is depicting but never feels cluttered (one such example here being a Positronic manufacturing line). I also realized I have gone this far without actually talking about the design of Father’s robot body. Most of that being because I do feel like it takes some of the threat out of Father having a body instead of being this omnipresent entity. That being said, it’s pretty good. It comes off a kind of “Super Rai”, even with being more mechanical than fleshy and very minimalistic and clinical in its details, perfect for someone that is so logic-focused.Continued below
The finale is coming. We have reached the peak of the confrontation between Team Rai and Father. We have seen this event range from real good to really mediocre. Kindt and Crain recovered a bit with issue #3, now all that is left is for them to really nail the end.
Final Verdict: 7.1- The climactic final battle between Rai and Father had a share of ups and downs.