4001 A.D. #1 Review: There’s A Big Dragon, Y’all


4001 A.D., Valiant’s big summer crossover, opens with a thrill, but will anyone but Rai fans care?

4001 A.D. #1 (of 4)
Written by Matt Kindt
Art by Clayton Crain and David Mack
Published by Valiant Entertainment

4001 A.D. #1 is not on sale until May 4, so this advance review will contain spoilers!

For twelve issues of Rai, Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain have told a fascinating sci-fi tale of a future where Japan has been launched into space to escape the wastelands of the Earth. An artificial intelligence called Father runs a pleasant but tightly-controlled collection of living sectors, and his favorite son, Rai, travels between zones to enforce the law. In Rai’s own series, he has learned that Father destroys human women to make each subsequent iteration of the Rai agent. Uncomfortable with this and some of the other unpleasant aspects of totalitarian rule, some of Rai’s friends dropped a virus into Father, and Rai was exiled to Earth and presumed dead.

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This issue picks up right after Rai #12, with Rai’s buddy Lula dodging Father’s police force. It turns out Father did not react to the virus like they’d hoped and is instead dropping thousands of people to their deaths in an attempt to maintain system integrity. Oops.

Meanwhile, Rai, the Eternal Warrior, and some local Earth guys look for a weapon lost since The X-O War that may help Rai to bring war to New Japan. Unfortunately, Rai didn’t read Valiant’s teaser promotional because…

There’s a giant dragon standing between him and sweet, sweet revolution.

Valiant has done a great job with the last year of peeking into the future. Clayton Crain’s art is lovely, dripping with texture and drama. Kindt takes the vast world of this time and narrows it to a couple of engaging characters. The issue starts with a three-page summary of the Rai series, elegantly crafted by legendary artist David Mack, so new readers should have no fear of following the plot.

Unfortunately, this issue doesn’t make a case for why it’s not just Rai #13. I mean, I know, Rai #13 is going to start a 4-part arc about the secret origin of New Japan, and that’s going to be great, but I’m not sure how Rai fighting Father is supposed to mean anything to someone reading Faith or Bloodshot. The summer event is going to include tie-ins to talk about the roles of X-O Manowar and other Valiant heroes, similar in structure to the recent Book Of Death event. But that book had a story about Eternal Warrior, appearances by tons of other heroes, and one-shots enjoying hypothetical deaths of popular characters. This book… has Rai. And an abandoned weapon based on Manowar armor, but we got that last month in Bloodshot Reborn. And Eternal Warrior, but he’s guest starred in Ivar and Archer & Armstrong. Heck, Eternal Warrior’s solo title had an arc set in this very timeline, but that’s not even referenced in his appearances here. So for an event, this is pretty near-sighted.

But damn, that dragon is amazing.

More superheroes and comics: Valiant's original announcement of 4001 A.D.

The Bottom Line: Rai is amazing. Check it out. And this is an astounding new arc of Rai. With a mind-blowing dragon. But if you’re not interested in that specific story, and you were looking for a crossover event, there’s not much here for you yet.