Everyone wonders what the future holds for their favorite comics character – and the series Rai is going to be showing all of Valiant’s hero’s future coming in August.
Set in the year 4001, Rai has shown off one corner of human civilization in the far-flung future, but in a new arc Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain are going to begin clueing readers into to the big picture of Valiant circa the 41st century. Beginning with Rai #9 in August, the series will see the titular star exiled on Earth and forced to travel the globe – and running across some familiar, yet aged, faces along the way.
Announced Saturday at Valiant’s “25th Anniversary” panel at C2E2, Newsarama spoke with Rai writer Matt Kindt about these new developments, both for Rai and his struggle against Father but also as he opens the door to the literal future of Valiant’s heroes.
Newsarama: Matt, what can you tell us about this new arc of Rai starting with August's #9?
Matt Kindt: Well, without spoiling anything, I can safely say that this arc will change everything forever in regards to how Rai works and the series is structured and everything we've grown accustomed to. All the pieces and things we've been laying the groundwork for over the last eight issues are going to really start paying off. When I pitched the series to Valiant, I pitched it with the idea of doing smaller arcs that would piece together into a much larger story, so we start small, focusing on Lula and Rai and then slowly over the course of the year, and then pull back to show more of Japan, and finally Earth and the rest of the Valiant Universe and it's relationship with Japan.
Nrama: This has Rai cast down to Earth after rebelling against Father. How would you describe Earth in 4001?
Kindt: It's going to surprise you, I think. We've seen glimpses here and there via Eternal Warrior - but we'll get a much larger view of things through Rai as he begins to travel across Earth, trying to figure out who he needs to be now and where he fits in. Earth isn't going to be a boring desolate wasteland, that's for sure. There are a lot of strange things that happened over the last 2000 years and we'll get to see a lot of that. We'll see some familiar faces (but much older) and even a few surprise characters we haven't seen since the first four issues of Rai. I would say as varied and interesting as Japan has been – Earth is equally so.
Nrama: Have to ask more about the possibility of seeing some of the modern-day Valiant characters in Rai’s year 4001.
Kindt: Definitely, we're getting there. It didn't make story sense to have them in Japan , but now that we're on Earth – anything goes. And it will. We'll see a few familiar faces and get a few more hints at the origin of Japan and how things got how they are how. Father and Japan have been running on the "live wire" tech – which was a seed we planted in Rai #1 – and slowly we'll start connecting all of those dots. Small things like that which will still be inclusive for new readers or readers that are maybe only reading Rai – but story moments that will have a lot more resonance if you're familiar with the rest of the universe.
Nrama: So how would you describe Rai now, divorced from Father and his friends in the rebellion?
Kindt: He's sort of lost, literally and figuratively. He's really going to spend some time traveling and trying to figure out what kind of man he wants to be. Really he's emotionally an adolescent and we're going to watch him grow up a lot over the next four issues. He's been kicked out of the house, so to speak, and now he's got to survive on his own and make his way. He's lost all of his friends and the comforts of home. It's going to be a pretty rough time for him, I'll be honest. But we'll really get to dig into his character – find out what makes him tick. Up to this point, because of his duty and Father he hasn't really had a chance to develop into a real character – he's been a tool of the state and then he's just been reacting. Being alone, on Earth is really going to make him take a look at his life and force him into making really active decisions on who he wants to be and how he wants to go about being that person.
Nrama: And what about those friends in the rebellion - where are they at?
Kindt: They're in trouble. Rai #9 picks up the action a few months after Rai #8 – so Lula is on the run with the Geomancer, Spylocke has been captured and Momo and Izak are looking for (and finding) bloody revenge against Father. Father has really cracked down as well. There's a new Rai that's keeping a lid on things and Japan has become a much more overtly oppressive place to live – especially for our heroes.
Nrama: How does it feel to have eight issues under your belt coming into this one, and having so much story set up that you can now begin to delve into?
Kindt: It's really fantastic. I've got to give a lot of credit to Clayton as well – we didn't really talk much when we started out – but we've had a lot of long and fun conversations once we got this thing off the ground and it's truly been a collaboration. I came in with the skeleton of the structure for the story we were going to tell – and together we've really had a lot of fun populating it and coming up with some interesting visuals to get the story across. Getting to spend so much time setting up Japan and world building the future was really essential for what we have planned this year – this year's story is really going to pack an emotional punch and I don't think anyone's really got an idea how far we're going to push things yet. I think readers are going to be pretty shocked with where we're taking this thing.
Nrama: In our interview on Book of Death: The Fall of Ninjak, you mentioned that would connect to Rai somehow -- so how will Rai the book connect back to that one-shot?
Kindt: The origins of Japan in space are definitely something that we'll see in Book of Death: The Fall of Ninjak. All of it is intertwined – Livewire, Unity, Ninjak – a lot of ideas that I've had when I first launched Rai are finally going to come to light.
I did more pre-writing and backstory work on Rai than I've done on anything I've ever written. The main reason was that I had to account for 2000 years of history. I had to figure out why and how Japan ended up in space and how it would evolve over time. And I had to figure out what happened to Earth during that same time period and what their relationship would be. So all of that stuff is existing in a big document – and it's really fun and exciting to get to delve into that now – and pull back some of the curtain – and show the layers of history – and it's seamless, since it was all pretty much figured out in advance.
It's really some of the most long-form storytelling I've ever done – other than Mind Mgmt which was planned as 36 issues – this is the next closest thing. And in a way it's even bigger than that, since the time we're covering here is 2000 years of unknown history, rather than back story that takes place in already existing known history. Long story, short – it's going to be crazy fun!