Why do we all love redemption stories? Can we relate because we’ve all been bullied, or felt like we need to prove something? Probably so, but one thing’s for sure: they are very prevalent in comics. Valiant Entertainment’s new series 4001 A.D. goes that route, but is it good?
4001 A.D. #1 (of 4) (Valiant Entertainment)
So here’s the deal, I’m new to this series, but dammit it should be accessible for new readers right? The thing is the official summary for the title is pretty long so maybe it isn’t. Check it:
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.
Why does this book matter?
Clayton Crain and David Mack do the art on this book. Even if this story was about wet tissue paper you’re going to want to at least look at this for its pretty pictures. Thankfully it has a story too and Matt Kindt does not usually disappoint.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The book opens with three pages drawn by David Mack in an excellent Japanese ink wash or sumie style. It summarizes the proceeding events and at the same time gives the reader a sense of historical importance and a heroic journey taking place. It’s a great way to open the book and to smash cut to Crain’s glossy futuristic look on page 4. From there we’re introduced to a vividly real looking world and the juxtaposition is quite something.
Just look at that!
I could go on about Crain’s work for days, but let’s sum up his work in this issue with this: this book is gorgeous. At times his style looks real, it’s so damn detailed and colored magnificently. There’s a glossy nature to it that makes it seem computerized–a great trait for a book about an A.I. called ‘Father’ that’s taken over Earth–with a detail that’s jaw dropping. Seriously, when you see dinosaurs floating in outer space in a full page spread you’ll drop your jaw too.
Which leads us to the overall premise which is solid science fiction stuff. The Father A.I. is jettisoning sectors to protect himself from a virus introduced in a previous story arc. The sectors are part of a base off Earth–because Earth has been ravaged, it appears–and the story has a Elysium sort of vibe. While Rai, the hero of this story, is off acquiring ancient human tech to stop Father, the character that introduced the virus (Lula) is on the New Japan base trying to make sense of how everything isn’t fixed. Kindt does a good job bouncing between these two views of the future.
Plus there’s lots of action! I’d liken it to Transformers in how the battle goes down and it brings a bombastic blockbuster feel.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Going into this series fresh I found it hard to care about Lula. It’s my own fault for not reading the previous story arc I know, but I wish there was a bit more meat to Lula’s story here. That same issue extends to the other heroes in this story. We aren’t properly introduced to the characters and instead the plot moves along as if we do. Again, my fault, but I wish there was a bit more introduction given as to who these characters are.
Is It Good?
This is good summer blockbuster comics. The action is fierce, the science fiction fun, and the art spectacular. This is Blade Runner meets Transformers meets Elysium. Check this out!