Comic Book Review: ‘The Ray’ #1

Posted Friday, December 16th, 2011 10:00 am GMT -5 by

The Ray #1 Cover Jamal Igle One of my favorite writing teams (Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti) + one of my favorite artists (Jamal Igle) = of course I’m on board!

The Ray was originally a Golden Age hero with light powers (whose origin is referenced in this issue as an old comic book story).  The original Ray doesn’t exist on this new planet, nor does his son, the most recent hero to use that name.  Both Rays worked with Uncle Sam’s Freedom Fighters, while the younger hero was also in Young Justice.  With the all-but-forgone conclusion that DC is bringing back Earth 2 and the Justice Society of America, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a new Freedom Fighters series set on Earth X.

But for now, DC has added a new face with that old familiar name to their roster.  This new Ray is Lucien Gates, a Korean American lifeguard who gets blasted by rays from an experimental solar cannon, turning his body into living light!  The cannon also triggers bizarre transformations in other entities, including what looks like a rampaging tree and a two-story tall horned lizard!  When Lucien attempts to take his first step forward, after being struck, he instead steaks forward at light speed, bouncing off reflective surfaces until he winds up in Seattle!  Naked.  There’s an amusing interlude with two amused girls, as Lucien borrows their phone to call his buddy (and fellow lifeguard) Darius Williams back home.  He then attempts to fly home the same way he got there.

Daruis and Lucien’s adoptive hippie parents try to help him sort out his sudden transformation.  To the awkwardness of Darius, every time Lucien tries to get dressed, his clothes burn up!  He must sequester himself away until he can figure out what to do, which upsets his girlfriend Chanti, when she doesn’t hear from him in a week.  Eventually, after his parents suggest yoga and meditation, he does begin to master his new abilities.  Basically, he’s like a living hologram and learns to alter his appearance.  However, he has to go through life secretly naked at all times.  (Kinda trumps my complaining about female heroes in skimpy outfits, though.)

While Lucien spends most of the issue battling other mutated creatures that resulted from the solar gun, by the ending a new, even greater threat is introduced!

The Ray Interior Jamal Igle Lucien GatesThis is how you do a first issue!  I’m definitely all on board with this book!  It’s so fun!  I already love the entire cast!  (I may in fact be in love with Lucien.  HOT!)  His parents are a hoot!  His friend Darius seems like a cool buddy to have and I liked his awkwardness in regard to Lucien’s nudity.  Chanti seemed uptight at first, but she relaxed eventually.  Just a fantastic ensemble!  I’m looking forward to reading more about them, too, not just the book’s star.  This is actually a vast improvement over Palmiotti and Gray’s ‘Power Girl’ series, which also featured a large cast, but none of them really spoke to me.  I’ve already forgotten all their names.  No, this cast works so much better!

It’s so nice to have a fun, positive, up-beat super hero comic out there!  Palmiotti and Gray have never disappointed me and they do a cracker jack job here!  They use the now familiar time jumps in their story, but it worked.  Lucien has a clear voice and there’s a ton of explanation, but it never gets too wordy.  With this one issue, you know everything you need to know, so now you can just hang on for the ride!

Jamal Igle likewise, always does a fantastic job!  Clean, attractive, dynamic!  And funny, too, which fits the fun laid back tone of the book.  The inks, by Rich Perrotta, are also a flawless match, very smooth and clean.

The Ray isn’t a huge name.  The former Ray had his fans, so I hope they aren’t so miffed that he’s been replaced, that they don’t give this book a shot.  Everyone needs to give this book a shot!  If you prefer a darker super hero book, then this isn’t for you.  But I absolutely loved it from cover-to-cover!

Verdict: Buy

THE RAY #1
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art and Cover by Jamal Igle and Rich Perrotta