Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Rai #0 (Classic Valiant)
Today I'll be tackling a big figure in Valiant Comics-Rai #0! Big in its reputation, and in how big of a failure I find this comic to be! Bafflingly though, Rai #0 is very widely praised over the net. People don't just like this issue-They love it! One person put it on a list of the most important comics of the '90's*! Dear lord! Well I'm about to go headlong into all the reasons why I strongly disagree with those opinions!...
*I also don't get why people praise Valiant for how original it was for being a cohesive shared universe which 'amazingly' had a big emphasis on inter-continuity. That is not an original concept. Even the dumbest of people know that that's exactly what Marvel and DC are! And Image! And plenty of other comic companies! End foootnote.
Rai #0 is the Valiant series bible, plain and simple, and I don't know which jerkoff's bright idea it was to publish it, but whoever they are, 'thanks'! *claps hands.* Imagine if before all the recent Marvel movies came out, a prologue movie did, and it spoiled several key plot points, and the endings to all future movies. That's what Rai #0 does for Valiant Comics! It spoils so many things for so many series', and sets many things in stone which absolutely shouldn't be! Did you want to know how Archer, Bloodshot, and Shadowman, Aric Dacia etc. die, and how gruesome their demises are? No? Well too bad, this issue is gonna tell you anyway. Worser still, it spoils the entire ending to Shadowman, giving a date that's only a few years away from the then present day of late-1992.
The biggest unwelcome thing set in stone by Rai #0 involves Harbinger (think mutants from X-Men) villain Toyo Harada. According to this comic, the Harbinger Wars happen, and with them, Harada turns the whole world into an apocalyptic hellhole for 900 years! Not only is that depressing, but it also means that Harada is never going away in the comics at all, ever! This is the ultimate example of hollow victory in comics! And it doesn't even make sense! Why didn't the heroes of earth just band together and stop Harada? It's only exactly what they did to stop the evil Mothergod in the Unity crossover! And the stakes and odds in that fight were far more than just some guy who's a bit powerful. Yeah, that's an oversimplification of him, but no matter how powerful Toyo Harada is, he'd have to contend with a physical god, a man armoured in the most powerful weapon in the universe, numerous invincible immortal warriors, one of whom can control machines, and the entire might of the H.A.R.D. Corps, a massive paramilitary corporation with only one goal-Kill Harada! But no, Harada's life is now set in stone and can never be changed (if it could, why would they even bother writing this), no matter how little sense that makes!
The fact that none of the heroes stopped Harada is not only extremely illogical, but makes them seem ineffectual. And what would have happened with Valiant's real-time schedule come a few decades? If, say, Valiant lasted as long as Marvel and DC have, and didn't reboot, that means that after a certain point, literally all present-day lines would be about the Harbinger Wars. Given how badly it's affecting the whole planet, there's no way they'dve been able to focus on other kinds of stories, so things would have gotten boring and repetitive fast! And if these new heroes can't take out Harada either, why the hell should we care about them?!
Jeez, every single character in the Valiant universe must seriously be feeling like they're in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead because of the lack of logical free will this issue 'provides'.
The depressing factor is really bad too, as since the world is in such horrific shape in the near future, and the millennia following, why should we care about the present-day series, because they're all going to end horribly no matter what! For example, in one issue of Shadowman, the villainous necromancer Darque kills Steven Tyler (yes, really), and the titular hero allows himself to be badly cursed by Darque in order to bring Tyler back to life. Nevermind that the fate of Aerosmith does not compare to leaving the evil and nigh-powerful Master Darque powerless-Yeah, Shadowman has saved Steven Tyler, but the whole world is gonna go to shit anyway, so what's the point?
This issue is a random series of events stringed together by a narration from a guy from the future, and all Valiant characters just fly by, with only a few panels before the focus shifts. There's a scene with the HARD Corps that is literally pointless, and it's almost a continuity error. What is a continuity error is in fact on the very same page, when present-day Geomancer (a lineage of people who do the Earth's bidding) Geoff McHenry is calling Gilad, the Eternal Warrior. It's stunning how just one panel can create so many problems! For one, Geoff, who has broken the character of Bloodshot out of the nefarious Project Rising Spirit, is calling Gilad to tell him that his name is on Project Rising Spirit's list of potential experimentation candidates. WRONG! Bloodshot himself told Gilad that in Eternal Warrior #3! Secondly, after he's done his thing and escaped PRS, Geoff says to Gilad "I found the project...". So he found Rising Spirit's location, and instead of relying on his invincible immortal soldier friend who is specifically on hand to help, Geoff instead went in alone! Dumb kid!
There are a lot more continuity errors, but I won't list them, as this is running long already. How are there so many errors here? It's not like those issues came first-They came later! So they had this as an easy access blueprint! Maybe those writers thought they could do a much better job than the ones here. Good call, really.
Onto some minor problems, when Geoff breaks Bloodshot out from Project Rising Spirit, a guard grabs him and actually says "How the hell did you get in here? This is a top secret research facility!". Why stop at just telling the intruder that, dude. Why not bellow it out the streets!
Another dumb bit of dialogue comes from Geoff himself, after Bloodshot has been killed and bad guy Ax has siphoned out all his super-powerful blood. "There's not a trace left of the blood in him."...Except for the pile of blood he's visibly lying in! Jeez, how do the writers and authors screw up their synchronization this badly.
Another bit of stupidity comes when the H.A.R.D. Corps appear, and the book has Gunslinger do a really stupid pose while saying '...We'll trash 'im!'. From the pathetic and out-of-character line, and the embarrassing pose, it's like looking at a kid trying to be 'gangsta'!
The final problem with Rai #0 is that is has squat to do with the character of Rai! Sure, he's in it, but so is every other character in the Valiant universe (which is not 1500, as many reviews for this, and the official Valiant website itself laughably decree), so Rai isn't special. What a #0 issue for Rai should have been was a heavy focus on his lineage, and the story here could be Handbook to the Valiant Universe or something.
Onto something completely different-The artwork. It's good. The cover's ok, but a bit bland.
Rai #0 is hands down the worst comic I've ever read, and it did irreparable harm to Valiant. I can't believe there are people who really care so much about this comic!...