The Ray

There have been several versions of the superhero codenamed The Ray dating all the way back to the Golden Age original whose name was Lanford “Happy” Terrill and whose adventures were published by Quality Comics whose assets were purchased in the 1950s by DC. This profile is about the current iteration as conceived and written by Steve Orlando in Justice League of America.

Ray Terrill is the superhero known as the Ray and at age 23 he is the youngest member of the current incarnation of the Justice League of America. Ray was born in Philadelphia and his mother Nadine raised him by herself. Details about Ray’s birth, childhood, and growing up aren’t exacting. We know that a nurse was injured in an accident involving a burst of light very shortly after Ray’s birth. Nadine sealed the house from light in order to raise Ray mostly in the dark to prevent further accidents and justified doing so by telling her son he was allergic to light. Ray’s only childhood friend was a boy named Caden Zapote who was forbidden to visit after he was injured in an accident after taking photos with a flash of Ray. Limited access to television shows became Ray’s only form of contact with anyone outside of his mother. News of Ray and his peculiar condition became tabloid fodder and he was dubbed the “Pennsylvania Night Boy”.

Nadine’s relationship to her son began to sour as she became resentful over being shut in and shut out of the world and any meaningful contact with others. In turn, Ray came to see himself being held as prisoner and his mother as his jailer. One night he’d had his fill, and over loud protests from his mother, abruptly left their house. Ray left home and didn’t look back for the next few years, moving to Vanity, Oregon because his childhood friend Caden was running for mayor, and making a life by helping people and forming friendships.

Batman decides to assemble a new team of heroes, under the Justice League banner, whom he believes can inspire regular people. Ryan Choi (Atom) is dispatched to extend an invitation to Ray to join as Batman has discerned the young and relatively unknown Ray possesses such inspirational virtues. Two instances come to mind which demonstrate Ray’s life philosophy that directly relates to his particular experiences growing up in nearly complete isolation. The first is a scene in issue #4 when Ray engages Dreamslayer, one of the Extremists from an alternate Earth, in a debate about trust, rules, and control as the face off against one another. The belief in his ideas save Ray from being beaten or worse in the confrontation. The second incident occurs in issue #11 during an argument between Ray and Batman. Ray shouts: “You think I don’t know that> You can’t stand it, can you? Can’t stand that I give people the chance to be good instead of assuming they’ll be their worst”.

Xenos is a character first seen in issue #5. He is working with a ruthless man named Nikos Aegeus who now rules over the people of Penn City after initially gaining their trust and gratitude by providing job security. Xenos was coerced into joining Aegeus and became highly suspect and considered a collaborator by his fellow townspeople because of this. Ray and the rest of the Justice League dispose Aegeus after they learn of the city’s plight. Batman and Frost perceive the goodness, skills, and possibilities in Xenos despite the terrible choice he made and offer him the chance to join as the League’s new tech and design guru which he accepts. Xenos confides his anxiety about his choices and gratitude for the opportunity to Ray which becomes the catalyst for the two men to start a relationship. Ray had a boyfriend named Eric who is mentioned in JLA Rebirth #1 and may have appeared in a single panel at the end of the story in Ray’s first appearance.

Xenos’ importance in Ray’s life extends beyond their romantic relationship. Xenos embodies the principle of forgiveness. and as such, he helps a very reluctant Ray to begin to confront his feelings towards his mother. Ray loves classic movies and loves to share them with Xenos.

Ray has several abilities in his power set. He can make constructs out of light, somewhat like Green Lanterns can use their rings and will power to make objects. He can also turn objects into light as was seen in the God Butcher story arc. Ray is able to fly and move at the speed of light as well as simply stun and temporarily blind people with brilliant light.

The original Ray was created by Lou Fine and first appeared in Smash Comics (September 1940). The character was later revamped several times, first in the 1970s as a member of the Freedom Fighters in a crossover with the Justice League and Justice Society. This version of The Ray first appeared in Justice League of America: The Ray – Rebirth.

Xenos’ profile is here. Art by Ivan Reis.

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