Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Ray #2

As I've mentioned before, guest reviews are most welcome here. They give your pal Chuck some much-needed breathing room, and I always enjoy reading what other people think! If you're interested in writing one, send me a note at the email address on the right-hand side of this blog. Here's a guest commentary by a gifted and prolific writer I've known for quite some time.

By Evan Minsker

My relationship with comic books has been fickle for the past few years, because honestly, I'm never in a position to afford the habit. Through college, I couldn't afford to buy week to week, or really, month to month.

Thus, the comics I've read since have been in the form of trade paperback collections and full-arc miniseries. (Although I've been burned by the latter, Mike Mignola, with your "to be continued" on issue 3 of 3.)

That's probably why I bought the first issue of The Ray. It's a self-contained six issue miniseries by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray (the writing team behind Power Girl), and best of all for a non-committer like me, it's unburdened by decades of backstory. But what I got in addition is a funny series with fantastic art by Jamal Igle.

Here's the abridged origin story: The Ray is a Korean-American guy named Lucien, a lifeguard at a beach in San Diego, who is hit by an energy conductor in a botched experiment.

Now he harnesses the energy of raw light, which means he can move at light speed, his brain moves at light speed (he's much, much smarter than he was before), and he can alter his physical appearance by manipulating light.

Mysteriously, along the line of the energy blast, monsters have been popping up. In this issue, it's flying stingrays with angry looking fangs.

Obviously, the "flying superhero vs. giant monster" routine has been done approximately three bajillion times in comics, but it's done well here. The Ray has the smart aleck wit of Spider-Man and the deduction skills of Sherlock Holmes, which makes the big action sequences really fun. But of course, Lucien also has another battle on his mind - meeting his girlfriend's parents for the first time at dinner.

This one is more of a transition issue - half character study and half fight scenes - so it's hard to tell where this series will ultimately go.

But The Ray is a funny, self-aware, fresh book, so it's easy to see the character sticking around for more than four more issues.

Grade: B+

Evan Minsker writes about music for Pitchfork, eMusic, and other nice people. You can read his thoughts on music, nerdy stuff, and various Internet memes at

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