You’re not going to find a better cyberpunk comic on the shelves than 4001 A.D. How could you, with a space station harboring a huge portion of humanity floating around a disheveled, broken down Earth society? Plus the station, entitled New Japan, is run by a hyperintelligent AI that everyone calls Father. Only Rai can save us, but is it good?
4001 A.D. #2 (Valiant Entertainment)
So what’s this series about? Valiant Entertainment’s official summary reads:
Rai is smashing headfirst into New Japan with his team of hardened rebels including the Eternal Warrior and a giant X-O Manowar mech-armor that’s been dormant for centuries! But when Father transforms New Japan into an impenetrable space dragon as a defense of last resort, what hopes will the united heroes of 4001 A.D. have of freeing the citizens of New Japan from Father’s brutal reign? Will Rai have to destroy New Japan…to save it?
We posted a full preview a few days ago if you want more information.
Why does this book matter?
The art is without peer as Clayton Crain’s art brings a hyperrealistic CGI look and feel that makes this book feel truly futuristic. Matt Kindt is writing a classic redemption story as Rai attempts to be the good guy after being the bad heavy. Valiant is proving their alternate reality stories can push the boundaries, making for exciting stories with characters we think we know too.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Like the first issue, this one introduces the premise of the series, the stakes and the players in play quite well to start. It’s basically new reader friendly, although the heroes aren’t quite as well summarized to begin with, but you just need to know they’re flying around an ancient X-O mech battle armor once thought lost forever to take on Father directly. For the most part this is an action comic first with lots of battling between a New Japan that’s a giant mech dragon versus Rai and his friends in the X-O suit. It looks jaw-droppingly good. Crain is able to create scenes that are shiny and gorgeous, more than worth a few extra moments to linger on every panel.
Yikes, that’s a lot of dead folks.
While Rai spends most of this action sequence reflecting on things we kind of already know, Lula Lee is rushing to keep herself alive as Father destroys entire communities to feed his war engine. Kindt uses this to show us what’s going on inside New Japan, which helps remind us how evil Father is as well as the repercussions of Rai’s battle. Thankfully the issue’s final pages change the game quite a bit and allow the reader to see that the next issue is bringing a whole new sort of action with it.
It can’t be perfect can it?
As referenced above, there isn’t much in the way of character development or variable action in the issue. It looks fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but it runs a bit long making you mutter “Get on with it” more than once. It doesn’t help that many of the captions and much of the dialogue is of the “say what you see” variety. The bad guy wants the good guy dead, the good guy makes proclamations that won’t happen, rinse and repeat.
Of course New Japan turns into a dragon.
Is It Good?
The best cyberpunk comic in ages. It looks gritty, real, and downright futuristic, made complete with one of the most epic science fiction scenarios imaginable.