DC Comics 2017
Written by Steve Orlando
Illustrated by Stephen Byrne
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
With the new Justice League of America debuting after the story arc with the Suicide Squad DC is bringing us one shots of the some familiar faces that will be in that League. Steve is bringing us the origin of the Ray and it’s a nice blend of new stuff with his original origin. Honestly I was hoping that we’d be seeing Happy involved in this story somehow even if he were just mentioned as being his father. I have a soft spot for the Freedom Fighters and would love to see them brought back somehow.
So we open with a young Ray sitting in the dark on his Birthday all alone except for Nadine. Now i’m not sure if that’s his mother or just a caregiver but either way she’s kind of a bitch. Though to be honest it can’t be easy living in the dark taking care of someone so young and Steve’s characterisation all around here is exceptionally well portrayed. This allergy to light while seeming silly is a great catalyst not only for how his powers work but for shaping the kind of person Ray is. There is this whole unprepared to be in society angle and experiencing things for the first time to be explored that makes me want an ongoing series here.
This time around Ray had a friend, Caden, who came around until there was an incident with a Polaroid Camera. We see that in all it’s glory and again not sure if it’s Nadine’s nature or not but I have very little sympathy for her here. I will say that what Steve does with Caden both indirectly and directly adds another dimension to the story that I hadn’t been expecting. It brings hope that perhaps Ray can find friends and peace with his life and not be completely alone, though what we see here doesn’t prove that one way or another.
The interiors here are solid stuff. There’s an almost traditional comic style feel with a little bit of an animation vibe to it that is nice. When we ee full on colour use it’s vibrant and striking and makes a huge impact. The use of page layouts through angles, perspective and even backgrounds do a very nice job in bringing the reader into the story.
I kind of like that this is an abridged mini origin story. Yes it has all the classic elements of him discovering his powers and making his first costumed appearance but it still leaves a lot of room for exploration. Plenty of openings to see how he manages to learn to control his powers after realising what they are. His reactions to what happens here is underplayed for me but still gives us a chance to understand Ray better. So I look forward to seeing how or when that’s explored more fully.
The end of this issue takes place at a political rally so we’re getting a decent timeline of Ray’s physical age here. I say physical because let’s face it he doesn’t have a lot of experience in human interactions and his home schooling isn’t touched upon so we have no idea how smart he is yet. Regardless this brings us The Ray as an exciting new and slightly inexperienced character that has that open slate feel to him. So much potential and with that feeling of just enough familiarity for longtime readers to be excited all over again while new readers get a great chance to be exposed for the first time.