Written by: Matt Kindt
Art by: Clayton Crain
Is Rai the best comic being published today? I would say that there is strong argument that it is. This book is good. When I read it I feel like I should be lounged out in a silk smoking jacket with an exquisite cigar and an incredible snifter of brandy. That author Matt Kindt and artist Clayton Crain can put a book of this quality together on a monthly basis is nothing short of amazing. The single issues are sharp as daggers. The trades? They are going to be simply incredible. Forgive me if I run out of superlatives before this review is done.
Rai #6 continues the story of the ensemble cast seeking to break out from Father’s fascist grasp into a world that provides the freedom they so crave. Various alliances are being built and put in place for the later battles to come. Momo seeks out an ancient evil to recruit to Rai’s cause. Spylocke is determined to find passage to Earth, regardless of the risks, and in doing so he places his trust in the hands of a being that no one should. It is sci-fi intrigue of the highest order, told in an intricate world that rivals the detail in the finest fiction of today in any medium.
The art features a level of granularity that is rarely seen in a monthly ongoing. This is graphic-novel level stuff. The kind of work that others work on for years, and it is not just the pencils and colors. Crain uses a panel layout that constantly shifts, weaving in embedded panels, overlays, insets, and cascades… I can honestly say that I do not think that any of the 22 pages are the same. There are furious levels of detail in hundreds of short brush strokes in every page. One nit is that there are a couple of word bubbles that do not flow in their arrangement, but that is very, very minor.
While the series is named for the main character, the truth is that each member of the supporting cast has a strength that allows them to carry a scene on their own. So much so that Rai himself is only seen for a very small number of panels in this issue. The tension between Momo and Izak in this issue is superb. Kindt does an excellent job of conveying the anxiety that comes with a strong female character allying with a terrible evil that she cannot possibly hope to control. In some other cases, there is a lack of depth in dialogue between other characters in this issue. One thing that some readers may not like is that this is a VERY wordy issue. But Kindt is weaving a very detailed world; one that can certainly be mentioned in the same breath with Blade Runner or Game of Thrones in terms of fullness of worlds described.
While the book is strong in its own right, there are not a whole lot of critical events that occur in this issue. It is primarily a setup issue for later events. That being said, the art exceeds almost everything that I have seen so far this month. In story, Kindt is creating an amazingly nuanced world which could sustain interesting adventures for years to come. I tip my hat to you, gentlemen. What you are doing here is truly something special.