Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Illustrated by Jamal Igle
Lucien can rescue Chanti from the clutches of the Isopods, but can he save his relationship with her? More important, can he save her family from the evil Director, who wants to destroy everything for his art?
The Ray, on the surface, appears to be one of the most cynically constructed characters in the DCnU. White hero (then, briefly a black hero) turned into an Asian-American, de-aged, moved to the West Coast for more fun in the sun.
But three issues in, this book continues to be a bolder, more creative approach to a “legacy” character than many of the other books DC is currently publishing. Hit the cut for why.
The Ray has been the name of three characters in the DC Universe before Lucien Gates took up the mantle, and while I wouldn’t call myself a fan of any of those characters, The Ray #2, aka Ray Terrill, is the one I have read the most books featuring. No offense to the fictional Mr. Terrill, but he wasn’t exactly the most exciting or engaging character (sorry Chad!). He fell into a weird sort of middle ground; he was never truly embraced like Wally West, nor was he reviled like Connor Hawke. The character was just sort of there – probably in part to the Ray never really being a top-tier character. And so, Ray Terrill floated around the team books of the DCU for most of his existence: part of the Justice League for a spell, quasi-mentor to Young Justice, a reserve JSA member for a bit, a Freedom Fighter, sure, why not.
But throughout the first two issues of The Ray miniseries, Lucien Gates has already established himself as a more unique character than any Ray in the past. And in the third issue, we see the character both at the apex and nadir of his powers, in addition to having a compelling story out of costume as well.
First, a note about DC’s miniseries post-relaunch: they’re all really good. I’m not counting the three series that are merely continuing their stories from before Pandora and Barry Allen did their business, which are a mixed bag (Batman Odyssey is terrible in an amazing way, My Greatest Adventure has highs and lows within its three stories, and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is quite good), but take into account the other minis that have come out: Penguin: Pain and Prejudice, The Huntress, Legion: Secret Origin, and The Ray. Each of these have been far above what would’ve been expected. Part of that is the art talent on them: Symon Kudranski, Jamal Igle, and Marcos To have all been flat-out killing it on their books, and maybe they are able to do so because this is a short commitment, and they aren’t as stressed to produce month after month. Any of these series would have been a welcome addition to the New 52, and are certainly better than many of the still-running series (I would trade these for both Legion books, Blue Beetle and Catwoman).
Jamal Igle, as noted above, is hitting all the right notes on the pencils, as is inker Rich Perrota, but the real star of the art team is colorist Guy Major. It would be easy for a light-based character to have a book that appeared washed out, or to exist in a world of darkness, but the art team manages to create a normal-lighted world that this flashbulb happens to float through. In this issue, the action sequences really shine, as we get to see The Ray’s powers going up against a batshit insane villain who can distort reality, and the art team manages to, again, maintain a steady base world and then let crazy stuff happen within that world. That may seem logical, but so many times action sequences (think any scene in any Transformers movie, which is sort of referenced here actually) exist in a world where buildings can be destroyed and it’s no big whoop. In this issue we see actual rescue workers and cops, in addition to random people who just happen to get in the path of a crazy superhero fight.Continued below
Writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray deserve a lot of the credit for this success, too. Lucien, although a natural at the hero thing, manages to be sort of clueless as to how to handle his real life. And, while part of that is because of his powers, it isn’t in the “Superman can’t love Lois because people will try and hurt her if they found out” type of powers-based dilemma; it is more of the “Lucien is trying too hard to use his powers for selfish reasons, and that messes up his personal relationships.”
The villain here, Graham Filmore, is a filmmaker who was resurrected from his film stock being thrown into a Lazarus Pit. This isn’t a very good origin; it is a great origin. It is ridiculous in the best possible way, and the character is borderline schizophrenic, banging from thought to thought like a pinball. This is a really fun villain whose mission (making “films” of the crazy real-life situations he creates) fits in well with this new Ray (who wants his life to be like a superhero movie, where he gets the girl and saves the day).
Overall, this is a really fun book, and I’m sad to see it end after next month’s issue. Hopefully, this Ray will continue to distinguish himself from his prior namesakes and not just be the 7th member on any team that will have him, but rather continue to be the center of interesting stories for years to come.
Final Verdict: 9.0 – Buy