At the start of the 1990s, many creators were leaving Marvel and DC Comics to start companies of their own or to work for independent publishers.
Valiant was one of the new publishers that popped in that era, and among their more original titles was Rai. He was the first original character created for their line of comics.
Rai’s story is set in the 41st century in which Japan is no longer on Earth but rather a self-contained nation state that orbits the planet. As the spirit guardian of his Japan, Rai is charged with protecting its people. Though the war with the aliens that led to Japan becoming detached from the Earth is long over, a new, civil war is being waged between those who are humanists and others who cling to old “spirital” ways.
Rai is caught in the middle of this conflict and struggles with how to protect everyone while figuring out what the best future for Japan needs to be.
Rai has many powers ranging form super strength and endurance to heightened agility and reflexes. He is also a master swordsman, a martial artist and a technopath who can control machines and computers.
In addition, Rai possesses a healing factor similar to Wolverine’s. Despite all these remarkable abilities, he’s just a man trying to honor those who have come before and save his people.
Sadly, the original series was short-lived and the mantle of Rai was quickly passed to another. However, the first, self-titled trade paperback collecting Rai 1-4 and issue 0 is well worth reading for comic fans searching for something different with a bit of real depth to it.