Interview: Dan Abnett on Valiant’s Rai


Rai #1 Juan José Ryp Cover A

Rai #1 Juan José Ryp Cover A


Dan Abnett is the popular writer of Guardians of the Galaxy (with Andy Lanning), Aquaman, Fallen World, Justice League Odyssey, and much more. Now he tells the continuing adventures of Valiant’s future hero, Rai. Abnett sits down with Westfield’s Roger Ash for a closer look at this exciting new series.

Rai #1 preview page 1

Rai #1 preview page 1


Westfield: For people who haven’t read Rai before, what should they know going in?

Dan Abnett: The series is set in Valiant’s “future,” which is 4002 AD. Rai is a semi-synthetic (half-human) warrior built by Father, the A.I. that runs the orbital paradise called New Japan. He’s meant to be the protector, but when he realizes that Father is a tyrannical despot, he moves against the A.I. to free the people.

Where our series picks up, he is now on the strange “post post-apocalypse” Earth, trying to help the liberated population he saved…and trying to hunt down any last trace of the murderous Father A.I.

Rai #1 preview page 2

Rai #1 preview page 2


Westfield: There’s a good deal of exposition in the first issue, but there’s also a lot going on. Is it difficult to balance the two?

Abnett: There is, but I hope I’ve smoothed it into the flow of the story. I want the series—and the first issue—to urgently progress the ongoing backstory of Rai and New Japan for experienced readers, but also to be a great jumping-on point for new readers. I certainly don’t want any “Well, as you know…” moments. But I think it pays to explain. Hopefully, I’ve made those explanations an organic part of the dialogue and the ongoing world-building.

Rai #1 preview page 3

Rai #1 preview page 3


Westfield: What can you tell us about your collaboration with artist Juan José Ryp?

Abnett: Juan José “JuanJo” Ryp is an extraordinary artist. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the art as he started to go with it. He captures the detail, the fascination, and the cinematic style I was hoping for—and the action is amazing. It’s great to work with a talented artist who exceeds your expectations, and I know JuanJo has really bought into the series and the world-building, going out of his way to add all those brilliant details.

Rai #1 preview page 4

Rai #1 preview page 4


Westfield: The dialog between Rai and Raijin hooked me right away. Is that relationship enjoyable for you to explore?

Abnett: Absolutely. It’s the core of the series: The solemn Rai (who’s a great hero, but can be a little taciturn and dry) interacting with Raijin…who is his older brother. Raijin is an “older model Rai,” an earlier prototype. He looks like a child, but he’s actually Rai’s older brother. The dynamic is great. Raijin is wise, sardonic, but is very new to this world (he’s been in cold storage for a long time), so he makes a great character to examine and unfold the world through…and to observe Rai’s awkward and sometimes contradictory efforts to grow and balance his human and non-human sides.

Rai #1 preview page 5

Rai #1 preview page 5


Westfield: Who are some of the other characters readers will encounter?

Abnett: The start of the series is a run of individual adventures as they move on to their quest, showcasing the bizarre range of locations and characters this new world has to offer. But in the background, the threat of the big bad and his minions is building. The series villain is the Red King, a.k.a. Bloodfather, who is a fragment of the old Father A.I. searching for other parts of himself. It’s a treasure hunt. Rai and Raijin are hunting for the missing parts of Father (called “Off-spring”) to destroy them and prevent Father from coming back, and Bloodfather is trying to get to them first so he can be reborn. Bloodfather is using an artificial body to host himself—it happens to be the body of Bloodshot, still around in 4002! We’ll also catch up with Rai’s tech-savant human ally, Lula (aka Spylocke), and before long we’ll meet some very familiar faces from the Valiant Universe who are immortal (should I say “eternal”) enough to still be around…

Rai #1 preview page 6

Rai #1 preview page 6


Westfield: What are some of your influences for this future world?

Abnett: Wow, that’s hard…so many things. Oddly, one of the key ones would be the Star Wars Universe…it’s NOTHING like that at all! But the thing I’ve always loved about Star Wars is that it presents this detailed, complex, real, lived-in world that you believe, yet the story is simple. They don’t explain or describe every last curious detail; you just follow the story and the characters, and embrace the detail as atmosphere. That’s something we’re trying to do, too, in our own modest way. A realized, wonderful, lived-in world.

Rai #1 Juan José Ryp Cover B

Rai #1 Juan José Ryp Cover B


Westfield: Any closing comments?

Abnett: I think Rai is an awesome book! I’m proud of the story, but JuanJo’s art is simply amazing. I urge people to track it down, and I hope they like it!