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Exclusive: Valiant's duo of Rai and Raijin pack a wallop in preview of Rai #1

By Ernie Estrella
Rai Promo Art

At Valiant, the future is Rai. Set in the 41st century, Rai has always been a thrilling glimpse into the future of stories set in the carefully crafted Valiant Universe — and SYFY WIRE has the six-page exclusive preview of Rai #1 with finished, lettered art.

Originally debuting in the back pages of Magnus Robot Fighter in the early 1990s, Rai has since been brought into the modern Valiant Universe in the overindustrialized New Japan in 4001 A.D. where an massive robot hovers over the entire island called the Host along with a controlling sentient artificial intelligence named Grandmother. She creates the lineage of cyborg samurai called Rai, the hereditary protector of Japan, and used the image of the 20th century hero Bloodshot and the champion's actions to inspire the people.

As a result the people of Japan are torn between those who worship Grandmother, and those who seek to get out from under her thumb. Fast forward to the events of Fallen World, written by Dan Abnett, where Rai has once again saved New Japan from an artificial intelligence but is now dealing with the fallout, as for many, he has stripped the nation of its security and safety. Now Valiant is moving forward with a new ongoing Rai series this November, with Abnett writing, Juan Jose Ryp art, Andrew Dalhouse colors and Dave Sharpe letters, where readers will find out if Rai can be the savior everyone needs him to be.

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"Rai is a classic Valiant character with a great history and vast potential," shared Abnett. "With this series, we get a chance to develop his story beyond the dramatic events of Fallen World, and produce an adventure that explores the future of the Valiant Universe. It’s an exciting mix of post-apocalyptic action and high-tech superheroics, and right from the word go, the series had a unique and unusual feel to it." 

This preview showcases the new direction. Centered around the irresistable relationship between Rai and Raijin (and their bantering), and later on in the issue with Lula, there's a real family unit that readers are going to gravitate to in addition to all of the bells and whistles present in the Valiant Universe.

"It’s an exploration of a strange new world, a quest...and the strange new world happens to be Earth!" Abnett continues to say that the new direction fits perfectly with what has come before, "iIt's an organic extension of the previous stories. It’s got a flavor all of its own, and showcases characters like Rai, Raijin, and Lula to great effect. True to the spirit of Valiant, it’s got a blend of action, sci-fi, a little horror, and a lot of character.

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As for the art on the series, Rai has had a long tradition of superb artists who have worked on the character from Cafu to Clayton Crain, Sean Chen and even crime mastermind David Lapham in his earliest days. But Ryp's rendition looks to be one of the more dynamic and bright colorful takes, which is a big contrast to how he's been drawn and colored in the recent past.

"There are so many different scenarios, characters, and situations–it’s a permanent challenge for me, and I like that," raved Ryp. "At the same time, I’m discovering many things about the personality of the characters. Dan is doing a lot of great work here and I want to make sure to do it justice. I know my work is mostly known for violent, action scenes, but what I really enjoy is character work, the emotions. It’s sometimes more rewarding to draw a “conversation” scene than a “great-battle-apocalypse-total-destruction” sequence. Although, I won’t deny it, the latter is also exciting for me!"

"We’ve been working on this series for a long time. We’re taking care of the details and enjoying it; I think it shows. I hope readers notice it, too."

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While previous series on Rai have focused so much on Rai himself, this take looks to take ingredients of Lone Wolf and Cub and other dynamic adult-and-kid duos, where we see Rai and a miniature version of Rai unleashed. 

"I loved the epic journey the first Rai series brought the reader on and this current incarnation will continue on in that tradition, bringing high-tech, high sci-fi adventure to the backdrop of a dystopian future," editor Lysa Hawkins added. "I lovingly refer to this series as “The Adventures of Samurai Jack and Astro Boy.” Rai, the wandering Ronin warrior, testing his human qualities, and Raijin, the little robot boy whose innate humanity outshines the zeros and ones. As always, Rai #1 is the perfect place for any reader (new or all) to start with something for everyone."

Be sure to check out our entire six-page preview of Rai #1 below, get your pre-orders in now and look for it to hit stands November 20, 2019.