Series: 4001 A.D.
Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Clayton Crain, and David Mack
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Summary from Comixology: “In the tradition of BOOK OF DEATH, ARMOR HUNTERS, and HARBINGER WARS, Valiant’s most ambitious crossover event yet starts here! At the dawn of the 41st century, the future of Earth will be decided in the stars. This May…the rebellion begins in 4001 A.D.! One hundred years from today, Father – the benevolent artificial intelligence that governs the island nation of Japan – will gain sentience. To defend its borders, Father will take drastic action by launching Japan into space…where its people will thrive in isolation, away from the overpopulated and resource-deprived planet below. Over the centuries, as New Japan orbits our increasingly unstable world, it will become a model society – one built on peace, prosperity… and Father’s control. A thousand years from today, Father will create the first Rai, founding a lineage of technologically enhanced heroes engineered to defend New Japan and sworn to protect it from all enemies. For hundreds of years into the future, the Rai will single-handedly enforce New Japan’s justice well…and serve Father without question. Now, at the dawn of 4001 A.D., the latest Rai is about to inherit the dark truth behind the origin of his kind…and discover the sinister secret at the heart of Father’s existence. For New Japan to live, Earth must die…and as Rai challenges his former master for the first time in more than a millennium, the lone guardian of New Japan will be cast out of his own Father’s kingdom… Exiled from the only realm he’s ever known, Rai now walks the ravaged world of 4001 A.D. in search of forgotten heroes like himself… on a mission to collect the last surviving legends of a broken planet…and to forge a rebellion with the power to bring the most advanced civilization in history crashing back down to Earth.”
Valiant is the archetype for modern comic events. The “Big 2” can try, and try, and try, but they will ultimately fall short of accomplishing even half of what Valiant does in (some cases) double the time and (without a doubt) triple the amount of issues. Let’s look at numbers, shall we? Ok, so, DC’s Convergence event only ran across a two month period, but it ran or 8 issues by itself, with countless limited series and tie-in’s along with it. Marvel’s Secret Wars event from last year started in May, almost 1 year ago to the day, and ended in January OF THIS YEAR. And that was only a 9 issue run. I feel like “WTF!?!” is appropriate here. 4001 A.D. will be a total of 12 issues. That’s it. No more, no less.
Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “Why are you comparing them? If Valiant’s method is so great wouldn’t it stand on its own without this paralleling?” The answer to that question is, yes. I don’t HAVE to compare them to express how great Valiant is at this, but it helps if you understand the massive difference. I don’t really need to compare why living on Earth is better than living on Jupiter, but it might persuade you more if I tell you about the differences in oxygen levels and general habitability. (Also, NASA has recently discovered large, reptile-like creatures with a thirst for human blood living in the vast sea of liquid hydrogen that makes up Jupiter so…)
If this first issue of 4001 A.D. is any indication, you won’t need any more convincing as to the validity of my point.
So what makes it this series great? Well, let’s start with Matt Kindt, comic writer and professional juggler. (I may or may not have made up the fact that Matt can juggle.) 4001 A.D. spins out of Valiant’s Rai series, which Matt has also been writing. I didn’t start reading Rai until after the second story arc, even against the recommendation of close friends who swore by the series when it first dropped. Once I did start it though, I was hooked. This issue is just another entry into the “How Many Genius/Crazy Future Things Can Matt Kindt Create With His Imagination?” log. (That’s a real thing. I Googled it.) Matt has an understanding of how to write futuristic sci-fi in a way that almost makes you think he’s been there and knows what happens. Professional juggler? Maybe not. Amateur time-traveler? Almost certainly.
I also love that he never loses important character development along the way. There are characters that you’ll see here who’ve been evolving since the first issue of Rai that even if this is the first thing you read, you’ll still be able to connect with and understand what they’re going through and why they’re doing what they’re doing. Matt can write a character, or situation, so well, that you don’t have to already be personally invested to care about it if you jump on in the middle. He’s THAT good.
The artwork in 4001 A.D. is phenomenal. Clayton Crain, who has been working with Kindt on Rai since the very beginning, is such an amazing artist that I can’t compare him to any other artist. Seriously. He’s that remarkable and unique. His pages aren’t just a collection of comic panels, they’re paintings that none of us are worthy to gaze upon and we should thank whatever forces keep our existence perpetuating that we’ve been blessed to witness his talent. (I swear he didn’t pay me to say all of that…)
Just look at that cover! There is so much detail and yet so much fluidity. It’s insane to me and I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. There’s a beautiful panel in this issue that shows a broad view of a section of New Japan and I just stared at it for several minutes. It’s so flawless that it’s almost unfathomable.
Helping out on art in this issue is Mr. David Mack. He does the artwork on the opening pages that give you a run down on what took place in Rai prior to this issue. It is beautiful and refreshing. The style, based on my research, what I believe one would define as, or similar to, Ukiyo-e. (I apologize if my uneducated assessment is incorrect.) It really is a splendid way of presenting the background story, and it gives you all the information you need to read 4001 A.D. if you haven’t read Rai (or any Valiant series for that matter) up until now.
If you are completely turned off by comic book events, then I urge you to give 4001 A.D. a chance. I hate comic events. I refuse to read damn-near all of them. When Valiant puts one out though, I make it point to read all of it because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it will be worth my time and money. More than any other publisher, Valiant cares about their readers. That care is evident in their business practices, their maintaining a constant connection to their fans through social media, and their ability to work close with their creative teams without dominating the work and compromising the integrity of the writers and artists.
4001 A.D. #1 is a 4 star book. Or a 5 star book. Or however many stars is the most you can give it. You don’t need to have read any Valiant comics before this to be captivated by it, but afterwards you’ll literally want to read them all.
Music Pairing –
I picked them once before, when I reviewed Tokyo Ghost #1, but I’m choosing Crossfaith as the best musical accompaniment to 4001 A.D. They’re a great Japanese metal band, and their track “Eclipse” is the best example of why they partner so well with this comic… Exciting, futuristic chaos. Need I say more?