In part because of the holidays, I did not review the first issue of DC’s new mini-series, The Ray. This is a problem for me. Now, sure, there are plenty of books that go unreviewed. Ideally, I’d like to buy every new #1 I see on the comics shelves each week, but with the rising cost of comics and the ever-diminishing amount in my bank account, that isn’t realistic. I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of you – sure, I firmly believe that almost everyone who gives Animal Man or Mystic or any of a dozen of other awesome books a shot will like it… but that’s an investment we can’t all make.
I picked up The Ray #1. That’s not my problem. The problem with not reviewing it is, it was good. It was very, very good. It was a book with a solid adventure that works just as well for older readers as it does for younger ones, with a diverse cast – an adopted Korean-American hero with white parents, an African American best friend and an Indian love interest – that is well drawn and realistic within a single issue and a breakneck pace that blends well with their sense of humor. If Palmiotti and Gray weren’t currently knocking it out of the park with their All-Star Western, they’d still have an impressive showing with The Ray alone. It’s just a damn fun book, and it hasn’t seen the sales bump the rest of the New 52 have enjoyed (though even that is waning fast – the top sellers continue to do very well, but DC now has multiple books under 20k sales (including read/RANT favorites Men of War and I, Vampire).
So, here: read The Ray. Though #2 lacks the insane pace and surprise factor of the debut issue, it’s a solid, goofy adventure story, with some solid personal melodrama and the introduction of what I can only assume will be the main villain of the miniseries. Jamal Igle is a blast on art, and colorist Guy Major gets to stand out a bit when the Ray begins absorbing the lights at a dance club, briefly turning him multi-colored (a scene that provides one small, laugh-out-loud joke I missed entirely my first time through). It’s a quick read, but it’s an enjoyable one.
In an ideal world, I would have the money to buy the boat load of comics I want each week, the time to write about them, and the influence to make under-appreciated potential gems like this one get noticed. But I don’t. All I can say is this: The Ray is a rock-solid combination of light-hearted adventure and relationship drama that hearkens back to classic Spider-Man, but with a more mature point of view. The art team is solid, the writers are confident, and the hero is charming. It may not be the most ambitious title of the new DC Universe, but it’s one of the most fun.