In celebration of Rai being 25 years old, Valiant Entertainment is releasing a one-shot that tells the story of Valiant over the last few years encompassing all their characters and all their major events. Call it recap or summary issue–it’s a way to be reminded of how diverse, robust, and action packed these series have been.

Rai: The History of the Valiant Universe #1
Writer: Rafer Roberts
Artist: Francis Portela
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

Rai, the spirit guardian of Earth, has uncovered an ancient tome filled with history’s greatest tales and civilization’s darkest moments. Charting the dawning days of ancient Mesopotamia, all the way to the rise of New Japan, the history of the Valiant Universe is laid bare in shocking and revelatory detail. From X-O Manowar to Bloodshot to Faith to Divinity…history will reveal untold revelations for Valiant’s greatest heroes and antagonists!

Why does this book matter?

I’ve been a fan of Valiant for years now, but haven’t been keeping up with every series. Now I don’t have to feel quite as guilty, as Valiant is filling us in on how everything connects and how we’ve gotten to the point they’re at in continuity. It’s a cool way to tell a story with their main characters after Rai took down Father in his last miniseries.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

That’s a cool way to show the wall cracking.

Having read and reviewed most of Rai, this was a good primer of where we are now and how we got here. Rafer Roberts writes this issue mostly via captions in the voice of Karana as she reads from a magical geomancer book. She flips it open and reads to Rai and the Eternal Warrior starting with ancient times and working her way up to the now. Roberts does a great job weaving it all together so that it makes sense, but also feels like a cohesive universe where everything matters. Highlights include origins for the many main characters, the war that Unity fought, and the battle Rai took up with Father in 4001 A.D.. It feels very thorough and should get even the most clueless reader up to speed on what has happened.

In a way, this work serves as a way to put a period on what has come before so as to kick things up a notch going forward. That includes possibly bringing back past characters, or at the very least having it all call back to previous stories in one way or another.

The art by Francis Portela keeps the comic moving nicely, and with much of the issue told via captions he does a good job picking key moments in Valiant’s past for each panel. There certainly is a lot of history to go through and Portela boils it down to a few images well.

So organized religion then?

It can’t be perfect can it?

This issue does feel like a comic best suited for Free Comic Book Day, or maybe spread out as a few backups in another main story. It’s safe to say the characters in the now don’t do much more than read from a book and chat a bit and that makes this more a recounting than a story in itself. Of course that’s what you’re signing up for, but it’s worth noting it’s not advancing plots, but just recapping past events. That makes the overall value feel slightly less, but hey, reading this saves you the time and money to buy all those back issues, right?

Is It Good?

A good recap issue that’s among the best because it weaves so damn much into one issue. It’s an excellent way to honor the anniversary, though if you’ve read these past stories or at least know if them it might feel unnecessary. New readers however should get a kick out of this.

Rai: The History of the Valiant Universe #1
Is it good?
A good issue that does a great job retelling the modern history of Valiant.
A helpful guide to those unfamiliar with Valiant stories or who have popped in and out like me
Drawn well, especially in how it captures an entire series in a single panel
It doesn't do more than recount past events so if you've read a lot of Valiant this will be recap for you

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