Way back in September of 1992, when I was but a young lad, I went to the bookstore to see how Rai, my favorite comic book character at that time, was doing.
Rai wasn’t Marvel or DC, he was one of those weird Valiant characters. His thing was that he was the Spirit Guardian of a futuristic Japan that was floating out in space. Rai didn’t ever punch man-shaped lizard monsters, but they drew a drawing of him punching man-shaped lizard monsters on this cover:
He wasn’t super great at his job and he wasn’t all that adept at fighting villains, but I was just learning about (and falling in love with) Kung-Fu flicks at that time and anything that bore any resemblance to anything in the world of Kung-Fu was cool with me. Rai was the most Kung Fu-ish looking character on the comic book shelf, so he was cool with me. And anyway he was a brand new character, only 6 issues old. I was sure he’d figure things out. So I grabbed issue #7, handed the cashier my allowance, and opened it up to see how things were going for him.
When I got to the last few pages, a villain named Mothergod showed up…
That was it. Rai was dead. I went back to the bookstore the next month to see if maybe he’d come back to life (comic book characters are always resurrecting), but there was no issue #8. Rai was just dead.
What did it mean? Why was he fighting a girl in the first place? How did she kill him with rainbow blasts? And who was the random guy in the last panel holding Rai’s sword?
(by the way, the galling lameness of the random sword holding character cannot be overstated; my beloved Rai was to be avenged by this guy?)
I’d never know the answers to any of these questions. But I’m a cartoonist (not a monetarily successful cartoonist, mind you, but a cartoonist nonetheless) and I recently decided to redraw those last few pages as a kind of therapy, a way to finally let Rai go after all these many years.
Want to see?
Huh. I do feel a little better. An odd demise for an odd character. God speed, Rai. We barely knew you.
…they re-booted Rai, actually, back in like 2014. It’s not bad, great art by Clayton Crain.
Maybe I should make my own comic…