As far as first issues go, RAI #1 is eye candy. Not to take anything away from the writing of Matt Kindt, but Clayton Crain's art is truly wonderful on this book. RAI has a very cinematic look and feel and will remind science fiction fans of Bladerunner, with the way the city looks and feels. His color work here is where his art truly shines. His shading and palate are perfect for this issue.
This book feels so cinematic not only because of how Crain drew it but also because of writer Matt Kindt's pacing and panel set-ups. There are certain scenes that just emanate suspense, like the scene where Rai confronts Spylocke and it cuts to a panel a Spylocke's back with two guns sticking out. It's a moment that leaves the reader wondering, "is it about to go down?"
Kindt sets up this issue as a murder mystery, while showing the reader what the different sectors of Japan are like, while trying to find out what's going on in this new world. The reader will feel right there with Rai as he does his best to figure out what's going on.
Rai is a bit flat, but it makes sense. Rai is more of a myth or urban legend to most people. They have no clue he exists because he stays with The Father unless something big is going down. Rai isn't a totally awesome and tough character like Punisher. He's very robotic and plain, but the reader sees more of a personality pop up as Rai experiences things in the real world. He's a very interesting character.
Because it's a completely new world, there's lots of new concepts, and it's a lot to take in. Reading RAI #1 can, at times, get confusing and readers may spend a bit more time on each page trying to understand the way this world works. The idea of PTs is explained incredibly well, but Raddies and Constables... not so much. The Reader will have to piece some concepts together themselves, which also leaves a lot of questions.
RAI is off to a killer start. It's wildly different than expected, in the best way possible. RAI reads more as a science fiction mystery than anything else, and while it's a giant leap away from the rest of Valiant's books, it still feels like it fits in the Valiant universe, but far, far in the future. Matt Kindt is crafting a very cool book, and while, at times, all these new concepts can get a bit confusing, since not all of them are explained enough to the reader, the overall book has this fantastic, cinematic feel. The highlight of the issue truly is Clayton Crain's artwork and colors. This is a book you really need to check out. Never read a Valiant book before? Don't worry, any new reader can jump on and feel right at home. Overall, I highly recommend this issue.