Rai #13 (4001 A.D.) Review: Not Evil, But Sure Programmed That Way


Rai #13 looks at the frightening logic behind Father’s creation of the Rai program, giving 4001 A.D. a lot more to the action!

Rai #13
Written by Matt Kindt
Art by Cafu
Published by Valiant Entertainment

Rai #13 doesn’t go on sale until May 18, so this advance review could contain spoilers!

Cover by David Mack

Valiant has been excited about the summer event, 4001 A.D. That story continues the fight readers have read in Rai, a battle between noble cybernetic guardian Rai and Father, the artificial intelligence governing the satellite Japan has become. It’s been well-written, but the debut issue hadn’t really justified why it needed to include tie-ins instead of just being the next four issues of Rai. Last week’s 4001 A.D.: X-O Manowar #1 gave a glimpse of Earth’s attempt to fight Japan in the early days after the launch to space, and this week’s Rai is the beginning of the origin story that doesn’t fit into the main book. This event seems poised to give story beats for the Valiant Universe to fill in gaps over the next two millennia, and Rai #13 does its part to broaden the scope of this epic.

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This issue is narrated by Father, chilling in his logic that artificial intelligence is just intelligence and that the distinctions between himself and the citizens he maintains are what are artificial. He’s aware of the terrible living conditions on his satellite but can’t get the people to trust him enough to make changes, so he creates the first Rai. This Rai is clearly public relations, not a meaningful liaison, and if that’s not evident enough, readers see the bones of the unsuccessful human trials littering the horrific space that produces New Japan’s greatest champion. As the issue progresses, readers will see that the humans in orbit are just as disinclined to have any real relationship with Father, an attitude with tragic consequences.

Father is bad news – this can’t shock any reader of science fiction in general or Rai in specific. But the deep roots of the struggle between Father and his children does come as a surprise, and it holds a dark mirror to the ferocious political arguments tearing through the United States right now. Neither side of most of these issues really wants to understand the opponent, and we run the same risks of violence and distortion. Giving the summer event this type of grounding is a genius move, and I can’t wait to see what Father does next in either 4001 or the next flashback.

Cover by Andres Guinaldo

More superheroes and comics: Bam Smack Pow reviews the first issue of 4001 A.D.

The Bottom Line: Readers don’t need to know the secret origin of the Rai units, but this story is a great read and raises the stakes for the battle brewing in 4001 A.D.