Agent of S.T.Y.L.E. - THE RAY Shoots Off Different Looks
Agent of S.T.Y.L.E. - THE RAY
This has happened with characters such as the Flash, the Human Torch, the Green Hornet. And it’s happened with a group of characters that have each used the name the Ray. The first was Langford “Happy” Terrill who operated during the 1940s. Decades later, we met his son Raymond Terrill. Briefly, we saw the adventures of a new Ray who was named Stan Silver, but he turned out to be a jerk. Now, with the relaunch of the DC Comics mainstream universe, an entirely new incarnation of the Ray is being introduced in a new mini-series. So with that in mind, let’s check out the many designs these heroes have sported.
THE GOLDEN AGE RAY
had one of the more off-beat origins of the Golden Age of Comics (roughly 1935-1951).
He was a reporter named “Happy” Terrill who worked for The Star newspaper (years later, comic writers would reveal that his first name was actually Langford). Covering the science beat, he was assigned to cover the launching of an experimental “strato-balloon” that was exploring the upper atmosphere. At one point, Happy left the cabin and was exposed to unfiltered ambient sunlight just as he was suddenly struck by lightning. Apparently, the combination of solar energy and lightning gave him light-based abilities. Now he could absorb and emit energy from his body and could propel himself through the air on beams of light.
This is too much of a solid color all around. There’s nothing to break up the suit at all, making it a body stocking. The boots are strangely elfin like for no reason. The fin on the cowl is appropriate for the era, where many heroes and science fiction warriors wore a helmet with a fin on it because we apparently thought that’s what astronauts might wear in the future.
Although I get that his name is “Ray” and his powers are based on light, having him decked out in solid yellow or gold from head to toe is a little too simplistic when you have no other real design elements. Even the fin isn’t a big deal because if you removed, it wouldn’t really alter the impression of the costume.
The orange isn’t great, even though it breaks up the color unity a little. The lightning bolt can work and is a nod to his origin. But some could argue that it also implies he has lightning-based abilities, whereas he’s not that limited and is really a master of light and various forms of energy.
Later on, his origin was also changed so that his “accident” on the strato-balloon was revealed to have been a deliberate experiment where he was exposed to the blast of an experimental “light bomb.”
SECOND GENERATION HERO
So young Raymond was a guy who’d just turned 18 and suddenly learned he was the inheritor of a heroic legacy, with powers that were similar yet superior to those of the Golden Age hero the Ray. After coming to terms with his new reality, he threw himself into the life of a superhero. His costume was basically the Golden Age suit, though with the bodysuit white while the headpiece remained gold. Then he added a jacket and switched the cowl for an actual helmet.
The jacket is very much a sign of the times. During the 90s, it became pretty popular for superheroes to throw a leather jacket on over their costume. Some times it didn’t work. With Ray, I rather like it. The jacket gives an air of youth and a bit of toughness, but it’s also stylized enough to keep with the superhero atmosphere. Its presence also helps break up the costume so that Ray doesn’t seem like he’s wearing a body stocking with a helmet. Which, even for a superhero, would be a little weird.
Ray stuck with this look for a long time. Later on, he briefly operated with the team known as the Forgotten Heroes and tended to wear the jacket open rather than closed. To make sure the costume still had something to break up the body stocking look, he wore a belt buckle with the Forgotten Heroes logo on it. Small changes that didn’t detract from what worked in the design.
This guy was Stan Silver and wore a version of Happy’s original suit. This suit however was drawn to be its own light source. Stan shined with a golden glow along his body and his sleek, unadorned look made him appear almost angelic. It’s an interesting update on Happy’s classic suit and definitely a nice way of marking him as a different character from young Ray.
So who was this guy? Well, he was a corresponded for the Sun (foreshadowing alert!), who was then mutated by getting too damn close to a strangely radioactive comet. He then got light powers as a result and joined the newly re-formed Freedom Fighters, as one does.
Stan later turned out to be a no good traitor, however. After he revealed himself to be a villain and killed a man, his suit altered its appearance, either because Stan could control the light it was emitting or because fabric knows to change color when you go evil. In any event, Stan’s suit took on a cooler appearance, making him appear as a being of shining silver just as his name implied.
NEW UNIVERSE. NEW HERO.
The mini-series is introducing a completely new character rather that revisiting the history of Happy Terrill or his son Raymond. In fact, Happy and Ray apparently don’t exist in this newly launched universe. Now the Ray is Korean-American Lucien Gates, a simple life guard who has the misfortune of standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. When an experimental “sun gun” unleashes a stray particle beam of “experimental light,” everything in its path gets mutated, including Lucien. With his light-based abilities, Lucien winds up getting into some strange adventures and the media dubs him “The Ray.”
The new chest emblem finally gives the Ray a symbol akin to the famous Superman S-shield and the bat-symbol. And the emblem can be interpreted as a starburst or as Earth’s sun with rays of power emanating from it. The fact that the symbol glows along with Lucien’s body indicates that it functions with him and that this hero’s suit isn’t merely for decoration.
All in all, it’s a very nice design. Time will tell if Lucien (or later artist) decide to tweak this uniform and lit-up body look. The Ray #1 comes out on Wednesday, so see for yourself what this character is all about. Until next time, this is Alan Kistler, Agent of S.T.Y.L.E., signing off.
Alan "Sizzler" Kistler is an actor and freelance writer. He has been recognized as a comic book and Doctor Who historian by major media outlets. He is a contributor to the upcoming Star Trek and History by Wiley Publishing and the author of The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cook Book coming out in May. He is the creator and cohost of the web-series and weekly podcast Crazy Sexy Geeks. His archives can be found at http://AlanKistler.com and his Twitter handle is: @SizzlerKistlerGot a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!