Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain’s “4001 A.D.” #1, Valiant Entertainment’s latest crossover event, takes place nearly two millennia in the future and continues the events of “Rai.” Having already established the basis for his story in the previous series, Kindt is able to open “4001 A.D.” on an apocalyptic note, getting readers’ attention regardless of whether or not they have been following the story in “Rai.” Crain brings his usual epic flair to all of the destruction, just before Kindt expands the scope of the story to the rest of the Valiant Universe.
Before any of that happens, though, guest artist David Mack hops on briefly to deliver a stylish, attractive introduction to the general state of the Valiant Universe in the year 4001, which then drills down to the essentials on Rai, and further still to the recent events leading up to this issue. Mack structures Kindt’s recap so that it takes shape like a Japanese fairytale, naturally fitting to the story’s locale but also giving the issue a unique opening and one that’s easy to follow and understand. This ancient, traditional style also serves as a nice contrast to Crain’s bold, splashy pages and gives them all the more impact.
Crain takes the issue into the far future of the 41st century, an era that is curiously populated by creatures who lived millions of years ago: dinosaurs. Yes, Crain gets to show off in this futuristic story by kicking it off with prehistoric creatures, which makes for a beautiful leadoff that scores points independent from the story. Kindt serves up a rather cruel and ironic fate for these creatures in his destructive opening, though; if one believes that dinosaurs met their end by a fiery asteroid long ago, then their demise here is strangely — if sadly — poetic. It’s a dichotomy that’s merely the genesis for Kindt’s story, rather than a significant part of it, but it’s one that will excite readers enough to make them want to see what Kindt and Crain have in store.
Crain’s visuals are impressive throughout the issue, although it’s the bigger, larger-than-life elements — like nation states floating above the planet — that impress more than the day-to-day ones, like simple facial likenesses. One of Crain’s most stunning visuals is the final look at New Japan from space, even if what’s exactly happening to it isn’t fully apparent.
By this point, readers know that the artificial entity known as “Father” rules New Japan with a literal iron fist, and that an ally of Rai has infected it with a virus in attempt to free her country. This is where Kindt upends the classic good-vs.-evil motif, as he focuses on the consequences of her well-intended actions and the catastrophic fallout that results from them. There’s no furthering the story in support of the good guys here; instead, the focus is on how their actions have made things far worse than imaginable, and those mistakes are hammered home on almost every single page. Kindt establishes a conflict to catalyze his story, then immediately introduces a massive setback to even further sell readers on the rest of the series.
“4001 A.D.” #1 makes an explosive debut that builds on an existing premise and then doubles down for an especially strong introduction to Valiant’s latest event.