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Cover of Rai #1 by Clayton Crain
|First appearance||Magnus, Robot Fighter #5 (October 1991)|
Formerly: X-O Mecha Class Armor
Rai (霊 rei , "spirit") is a fictional superhero that appeared in books published by Valiant Comics. Rai was the first original hero created by Valiant and had its beginning as a flipbook back-up feature in Magnus, Robot Fighter issues #5–8. The popularity of the flipbook back-up story later led to an ongoing series. Valiant Entertainment is the current owner of Rai and the rest of the original Valiant Comics characters.
In his original incarnation, Rai is the spirit guardian that protects the nation of Japan in the 41st century. It is a mantle passed down from father to son through the generations. As such, the series chronicled a number of protagonists.
A new Rai ongoing series was launched in April 2014 by the creative team of writer Matt Kindt and artist Clayton Crain, selling out of its initial print run.
Rai ran nine issues, concluding in November 1992 with Rai #0. It was relaunched six months later as Rai and the Future Force, a new series which continued the numbering from Rai. The initial creative team on Rai and the Future Force was Bob Layton (writer), Sean Chen (penciller), and Kathryn Bolinger (inker).
Fictional character biography (Valiant Entertainment)
By the year 4001, industrialization in Japan had begun to consume every square inch of free space within the island nation's borders. To house and feed its growing population, the country had built upon its own infrastructure centuries before, turning the whole of Japan into a towering pillar, hundreds of miles wide. Eventually, the nation detached from Earth entirely, and now orbits the planet.
Governed by a mysterious yet benevolent artificial intelligence named Father, the Japan of 4001 is divided into various sectors, with names derived from the time of founding, and generally separated among the lines of economic status and social class. Where a citizens's sector falls in the literal hierarchy of Japan's many sectors also directly affirms their social ranking; the closer you are to the Earth, the less essential you are.
While the higher classes of Japanese society rely on advanced technology, including sophisticated, human-looking robots-or PT's for Positronic Minds-on every level of their daily lives, discontent has brewed for centuries on Japan's middle and lower levels, resulting in the formation of an extremist anti-technology sect called Raddies, who have vowed to overthrow Father and every symbol of his technologically enabled reign.
Standing solitary guard at the top of Japan's miles-high structure is Rai-the lead enforcer of Father's justice and a figure of near-mythic stature to Japanese citizens of all ages. To some he is the ghost of Japan's past personified, to others a "spirit guardian" and folk hero. They say that he can appear out of nowhere, and possesses a near-universal sight over Father's people. But few have ever seen him...until the first murder in nearly a millennium brings Rai to the forgotten sectors of Father's empire, and threatens to topple a Japan that has taken nearly two thousand years to erect.
Over the course of his investigation Rai would come in contact with the mysterious Spylocke, a rebel rousing super agent who is normally relevated to holo-vid projections for the entertainment value of the masses. Eventually he and a wayward resident girl of new Japan named Lula Lee would come to an alliance against the false utopia's creator after Rai discovers how he was created and is told of the harsh living conditions new Japan truly boasts beneath its feigned perfection. Eventually meeting and falling in love with a recently companion-less Positronic A.I (PT) named Momo, who was among many of her synthetic kind to gain awareness of herself and her social situation.
Vowing to herself to bring New Japan crashing to the Earth below for their creator and the humans he coddles mistreatment of her people. Bringing to their shared cause fellow outcast and renegade experiment name Izak, a hybrid blend of Father's livewire and long extinct alien genetic material fished from amongst the stars; his new race was meant to be a proceeding protectorate task force for the floating city but were too volatile and bloodthirsty to ever be controlled, therefore being caste down to Earth with only him escaping.
Having Made Stalwart allies of this group of renegades with the aid of the tumultuous Dr. Silk, a long time resident of New Japan and greatest if not conniving scientific mind of the 41st century. Rai managed to stall an all out war between Momo's faction of self-aware Positrons and the anti-father/PT terrorist cell known as the raddies which would serve to further the despotic rule of the A.i's hold over New Japan. After having allied both sides to his cause Rai and his fellow insurgents led a civil war within New Japan while he and his predecessor Rai IX headed into the heart of the problem, taking the fight directly to the tyrant ruling from within; only for both to be routed by his newest creation Rai XI. The battle ending with Rai IX dead and Rai himself stripped of power and cast down to the wasteland that is Earth, abruptly ending the opposition from both armies brought under Rai's banner.
But the fallen champion had not perished there as many were led to believe. Instead he would go on to survive his ordeal but in a battered and damaged state of being, eventually getting picked up by wastelanders native to the post-apocalyptic world. Meanwhile, back on New Japan Rai's friends and fellow revolutionaries have either been driven underground as many are in hiding or have been captured for interrogation and participation in bloodsports as a means of execution.
As time passed however Rai would eventually regain his strength replacing what he lost with something new and profound, taking on a sword of a fallen warrior who was burned out of existence by New Japan's harmful solar exhaust that constantly burned the earth; courtesy of a captured Geomancer under father's thumb. Even coming across new allies and enemies along his trek across the wastes in order to find a way back home, most notably Lemur; a resident of the burning earth who can sense a persons moral fiber. Whose home was burned by the dead world christened "Always Rising Sun" due to its constant solar waste dumping upon the world.
And more importantly the famed undying Fist & Steel of the Earth who would lend his services to Rai in exchange for retrieving Karana, the latest speaker of the earth from father's clutches. As the trio make their way to an armament that may aid them in the upcoming battle, the nightsky comes alight with falling stars. But only Rai knows they're pieces of New Japan that are being jettisoned to earth by Father, in an effort to purge his systems of a computer virus The Late Spylocke and a wounded Lula cast into his core processor. Rai, Gilad and Lemur eventually find themselves within a cave harboring a long thought lost ancient weapon created by man, an old X-O Armor Mecha Class which was left over from the war that engulfed the earth just as New Japan ascended to the skies.
Fictional character biography (Valiant Comics)
In 4001 A.D., a massive machine known as the Host covers the entire island of Japan. Fifty billion Japanese dwell inside this mighty construct, which is, in fact, a single, enormous robot. Rai is the hereditary defender of the Host – its living immune system. Rai draws weapons from his own body to protect the people of Japan and his creator Grandmother, the sentient artificial intelligence that controls Japan. The line of Rai were created by Grandmother in the image of the 20th century hero Bloodshot. She hoped to inspire her people by invoking his heroism.
Japan is torn by two warring ideologies: the traditionalists, who believe Grandmother should continue controlling every aspect of life; and the extremist Anti-Grannies, who want to destroy Grandmother and believe that Japan should begin caring for itself.
Early in the 31st century, the entire land mass of the island nation of Japan was blanketed by hundreds of levels of high-tech urban sprawl. In order to support such a spectacular megalopolis and its population, a tremendously powerful central computer was designed to control every aspect of the island's function. In 3050, that computer went "freewill", meaning that it and its motivation became independent. The populace dubbed it "Grandmother" because of its clearly benevolent desire to care for and protect the people of Japan. To insure her own safety, Grandmother created a security force of one, her Spirit Guardian. It is called Rai, the kanji word for "spirit", though it is spelled "Rei" in English.
Characters assuming the mantle of Rai
Shiro Yagami, the first Rai
Shiro Yagami, a man of noble birth, was infused with some unknown form of energy which gave him great strength, and the ability to form energy weapons. He was also able to travel through the nerveweb of Japan, the computer network which gave Grandmother control of the city, thus allowing him to move anywhere inside Japan at virtually the speed of thought. More skilled as a politician than as a warrior, Shiro met his death in 3216 at the hands of the Anti-Grannies.
Sho Sugino, the second Rai
In the year 3216, seeking to thwart Grandmother's champion, the Anti-Grannies had somehow managed to obtain the Blood of Heroes – the very plasma that coursed through Bloodshot's veins over twelve hundred years before. Once a suitable host could be found, the blood's power could be used to give them control over any electronic intelligence – including Grandmother's. Sho Sugino, the second Rai, was raised up from life as a vagrant to defend Japan, protect Grandmother, and defeat the terrorists. He succeeded but after handing over the blood of heroes he was abandoned in the Lost Land by Grandmother. Feeling Sugino's personality unsuited for the task, she chose a member of the high-born Nakadai family to be the next Rai, declaring henceforth that the line of Rai would be passed from father to son through the generations.
Rentaro Nakadai, the 41st Rai
Rentaro served as Rai well into his old age, mainly because his son, Tohru, refused to assume the mantle. Tohru finally relented in 4001, and Rentaro was able to retire.
Tohru Nakadai, the 42nd Rai
In 4001 A.D., however, the Earth was invaded by vicious Spider Aliens, and Grandmother was forced to launch Japan into space in order to defeat them. With the combined might of Earth's forces, the armada was repelled, but Grandmother was so badly damaged that she finally left Japan to govern itself. The Rai of that time, Tohru Nakadai, remained behind to champion his nation, until his death at the hands of Mothergod during the Unity conflict.
Mothergod proved disastrous to Japan. As a result of her machinations, the orbiting island fell from space shortly before Tohru's death, killing billions of its inhabitants. But in its darkest hour, Takao Konishi, a Harbinger with the potential to receive the Blood of Heroes, was chosen to inherit the mantle and continue the lineage of Rai (Rai #0).
Takao Konishi, the 43rd Rai, or "The Last Rai"
Obadiah Konishi, the 44th Rai, and possibly "The Greatest Rai"
Son of Takao Konishi and Leeja Clane via a short love affair, he was born with nanites in his blood, which made it possible for him to be more powerful than his father. He was later infused with the "Blood of Heroes" that once coursed through his father's veins, which not only gave him the powers of the hero Bloodshot, it also gave him some of his memories.
He would become the elder half-brother to Torque, son of Magnus, Robot Fighter and Leeja Clane, and was raised by the First Family of North Am. Upon becoming Rai, "Obie" came into conflict with Tohru Nakadai's son Takashi, who was bitterly jealous of what he saw as Obadiah's preferential treatment as "the last Rai", particularly since Takashi's late father was in fact the last "legitimate" Rai reared by Grandmother.
- ↑ "Valiant Entertainment". valiantuniverse.com. http://valiantuniverse.com/2014/05/05/rai-1-smashes-into-first-week-sell-out-new-printing-in-stores-with-junes-rai-2/. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
- ↑ Samsel, Robert (January 1993). "The State of Valiant Address". Wizard (Wizard Entertainment) (17): 47–54.
- ↑ "Valiant Entertainment". valiantuniverse.com. http://valiantuniverse.com/2014/05/01/first-looks-fcbd-2014-armor-hunters-special-fcbd-2014-valiant-universe-handbook-coming-for-free-comic-book-day-2014/. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
- ↑ "Valiant Entertainment". valiantuniverse.com. http://valiantuniverse.com/comics/valiant-masters/valiant-masters-rai-vol-1-from-honor-to-strength-hc/. Retrieved November 11, 2016.