‘The Ray’ miniseries shines on

Cover

The Ray #1 – #4

Written by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti

Pencils by Jamal Igle; Inks by Rich Perrotta

Published by DC Comics

Despite many well deserved bad words being flung at DC Comics on account of their poorly planned New 52 reboot, there are some actual moments where all the elements come into play, and there’s a bona fide gem to be found. Case and point: The Ray, a measly four issue miniseries starring one of the Freedom Fighters, shines through as one of the shockingly enjoyable, yet ignored reads of DC’s current status quo.

The Ray is very much an origin story with no ties to previous incarnations save for name and powers based around light. The central player is Lucien Gates, a Korean American lifeguard, enjoying the sunny beaches of San Diego until he’s blasted with an experimental solar gun, granting him super powers. What’s refreshing about Lucien’s transformation into a superhero is very much how laid back it is. Much of his experience is learning how to control his abilities and use them in creative means, including trying to win the approval of his girlfriend’s overbearing parents. Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti write this miniseries and it shows. This story is full of their tongue and cheek dialogue and drama, and given the overly serious tone most books have taken in the New 52, it’s a welcome change. However it is easy to see where their style can become grating to some and not recommended if one’s in a more serious mind set.

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The cast also stars a rich and diverse group of characters. Lucien’s best friend Darius makes for a surprising turn as the musclebound but level headed wing man and Chanti, Lucien’s girlfriend, is given surprising depth as she handles her boyfriend being turned into a golden glowing super human. Depressingly the villain, a sadistic film director with the powers of a god, has little development himself. He has a fantastic angle as he manipulates Lucien’s life to make it into a film about a brooding superhero, which makes for some leaning on the fourth wall. His presence is lacking until half way through the story and should have more of a relationship with Lucien himself. What the villain lacks is made up in the supporting cast, which could easily build up an entire book on their own. Also, while the ending will go unspoiled, it’s a surprisingly moving one and borderline tear jerking at times.

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The pencils are done by Jamal Igle. While not being an especially stand out artist, he manages to make this book his own. He has a clear talent similar to Rafael Albuquerque at drawing unique  faces which capture a character’s entire mood. It’s something rare in many artists that deserves acknowledgement whenever it pops up. The way Igle captures both building sized monsters and the cool ways Lucien’s powers manifest are a stand out. Yet he is not the best when designing some enemies. Two Transformer-styled robots in later issues leave much to be desired. There are also times where Igle will resort to minimalist backgrounds or none at all. However, when he hits his mark, he creates some humor filled and energetic panels. He matches will with Gray and Palmiotti’s sense of humor and action.

As the DC’s most appealing titles in the upcoming much seem to be various Convergence series with nothing to do with the New 52, The Ray miniseries is a breath of fresh air. It has character, action, humor, optimism, and even some genuine sad moments. Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti deliver an exciting, light hearted action story that serves as a small love letter to 1950’s era science fiction. Jamal Igle does some great pencil work with the cast of humans and monsters he’s given and brings many of the characters to life with his facework. Unfortunately, these issues have never been collected in any trade book form but they are available for download at many digital retailers. This miniseries comes highly recommended for those bored with the general slog of joyless New 52 titles as Gray and Palmiotti are oft to do. For such a short read, it is well worth picking up.




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