Let’s get the good part of the review out of the way up front: Jimmy Palmiotti’s, Justin Gray’s and Jamal Igle’s The Ray is a fun comic that I intend to keep buying, at least for the time being. It has a likable protagonist, a stack of interesting supporting characters, and an old-school, “Wrong place, wrong time, boom! Dude gets superpowers” attitude toward it’s origin story that reminds me of comics like Nova and Firestorm when I was a kid back in the 70s.
The bad part of the review is that The Ray feels like the obligatory “black best friend” that DC Comics will trot out at SDCC 2012 to prove to extremists in Batgirl costumes that they’re not racists. But we’ll come back to that.
Our hero is Lucien, a lifeguard in San Diego who gets blasted by something called the Sun Gun – probably because if it was the actual Large Hadron Collider that it’s clearly meant to be aping it would imply that he got his powers from something called a God Particle, which would draw out a whole different kind of extremist to SDCC – and gets the power to control light. All of this happens in three pages, and one of them is the opening splash page. Compare that to, say Ultimate Spider-Man, where we’ve gone four issues without even putting Miles Morales in his own costume, and you can tell we’re looking at a fast-paced origin book like, say, the original Spider-Man.
Of course, it takes a little longer than for Lucien to get his costume on because gaining the control of light apparently means losing the ability to wear pants. Everything he touches burns, which means that The Ray will be the first superhero to die of a backup of semen to the brain stem. In fact, a large part of this issue revolves around Lucien’s pants problem, meaning that we spend a lot of time in the company of a naked young man, and that there is a particular demographic who can use the book to make sure they are in no danger of death by semen accumulation.