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The original Ray on the cover of Smash Comics #25. (Aug 1941). Art by Gill Fox.
Smash Comics #14
The Ray #1
DCU Brave New World
The Ray #1
Langford "Happy" Terrill|
- "The Ray" redirects here. For the painting of that title, see The Ray (painting).
The first Ray was Langford "Happy" Terrill, a Quality Comics character. When DC Comics later purchased Quality Comics, Happy Terrill was retconned as a member of the Freedom Fighters on Earth-X. Following DC altering much of its continuity and history in the storyline Crisis on Infinite Earths, Happy Terrill was now an inhabitant of the mainstream DC Comics universe and his son Ray Terrill became the second Ray. Later, the character Stan Silver briefly operated as the third hero called the Ray. In 2011's New 52 relaunch of DC Comics, where continuity and history is again being restructured, a new character called Lucien Gates is introduced as the Ray. Although historically he is the fourth superhero character to use this name, in The Ray #1 (2012), set in a rebooted continuity, he refers to the origin of Happy Terrill as a story he had heard as a child.
Fictional character biography
Langford "Happy" Terrill
Prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot, Happy Terrill was originally described as having been exposed to lightning and sunlight at the same time while ballooning, and gained energy-based super-powers.
His post-Crisis origin is more involved. Before World War II, the government established a secret group known as RONOL (Research on the Nature of Light). One RONOL member, Dr. Dayzl, theorized that the light that originated millennia ago where Earth now orbits would eventually circumnavigate the universe and return as a dangerous, conscious entity.
The only way to stop the "Light Entity", Dayzl believed, was to talk to it. Tricking a reporter named Happy Terrill into joining them, Dayzl and his assistants staged an upper atmosphere ballooning "accident", making certain Terrill was exposed to a genetic "light bomb". Dayzl calculated that Terrill's offspring would be a unification of human and light energy, a potential liaison to the Light Entity. Unaware of the truth, Terrill used his resulting powers to become the super-heroic Ray. Simultaneously, RONOL lost government backing due to Dayzl's unorthodox beliefs. Dayzl's fate remains unknown.
In 1950, after learning the truth, Terrill vowed to quit his Ray identity. Happy and his first wife, had a child named Joshua. For a time Joshua accompanied Ray on missions as his sidekick "Spitfire". However Joshua was prone to violent outbursts, he was placed in suspended animation in the 1950s only to wake up again in the future, still only 10 years old. After a brief association with his old team the Freedom Fighters in the 1970s, he had married and settled down. Everything seemed normal until Happy saw his newborn son glowing with crackling energy in the hospital nursery. Happy was convinced Dayzl's theories were correct. He now knew his son would one day have the power to confront the Light Entity. Not wanting to put his wife through torment, Happy told her that the baby had died and then set up his son with a foster father (Happy's brother Thomas).
In the 2008 Freedom Fighters series, Terrill is asked by Uncle Sam to ask Neon the Unknown for help. When Neon, completely detached from humanity, refuses, Terrill drinks from the waters of his oasis, becoming a new Neon the Unknown, known simply as "Neon".
Ray Terrill was told he was hyper-sensitive to light and exposure to sunlight would kill him. Privately tutored in his window-darkened home, Ray's most earnest wish was for normalcy. The media called him Night Boy. His only friend during his formative years was his neighbor, Jennifer Jurden. At eighteen, by his supposed father's deathbed, Ray learned his life was a lie. He was not allergic to light, nor did he have to live in darkness. Most disturbing of all, he discovered his true father was the 1940s war-time super-hero, the Golden Age Ray.
The reformed Freedom Fighters have a member called the Ray, who has similar powers to the Terrills. The new Ray is Stan Silver, and he was described by Justin Gray as being "capable of turning his body into a living laser light" and "the playboy of the group". Stan likes to show off in front of the media.
Working as a foreign correspondent for the Washington Sun, Silver was exposed to upper atmosphere radiation while covering a story, thus gaining power over various forms of light. Recruited by S.H.A.D.E., Silver begins using his powers in the service of his government. He is, however, something of a womanizing egomaniac in his civilian persona. Silver later defects from S.H.A.D.E. to join Uncle Sam's new group of Freedom Fighters.
In Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #6, Silver reveals that he is a double agent still loyal to S.H.A.D.E. He turns on his teammates and kills the Invisible Hood. Immediately after, the colors of his "costume" were inverted, becoming blue instead of yellow.
In Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #7, he battles his former teammates and is defeated by Ray Terrill, and is sent back to Father Time. He is later seen outside the White House with S.H.A.D.E.'s other super-soldiers, who join Father Time in the timestream after the battle ends.
In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity. In this new timeline, a character named Lucien Gates was introduced as the Ray in a mini-series titled The Ray, written by Palmiotti and Gray with art duties by Jamal Igle. It did not feature any of the previous incarnations of The Ray but instead centered around a new character by the name of Lucien Gates. Remarks made by Lucien referencing Lanford's origin and his use of the Ray title in his debut issue indicate that he is not the first hero to be called The Ray as far as the newly rebooted DC universe is concerned. The mini-series debuted in December 2011.
Lucien Gates is a Korean-American San Diego County Lifeguard who, while on duty was caught in the path of a particle beam. The beam, accidentally fired from a solar energy cannon commissioned by an unnamed government agency, mutated a number of living organisms before striking Gates. The resulting energy transforms him into an energy manipulator, able to fly at superhuman speed, fire various energy beams and create illusions. Gates is also a Korean-American adoptee.
Distinctively, Gates cannot direct his flight as is common for airborne superheroes, instead travelling in a straight line as a literal ray of light. To change direction he must strike a reflective surface, though it does not appear he is bound by the normal mechanics of specular reflection and can "reflect" at any angle (perhaps more akin to a swimmer kicking off from the edge of a pool than true reflection). When necessary, he can reduce his speed and even hover.
Powers and abilities
All versions of the Ray can absorb, store and process pure light and use the energy to fly and create dazzlingly strong and powerful bursts of light. In his Golden Age appearances, Happy Terrill was able to manipulate other forms of energy such as electricity and magnetism.
Later in Happy's career (while mentoring/antagonizing his son), he was shown to have a greater mastery of his abilities. For example, by using "solid light vibrations", essentially resonating the target's inner ear, he was able to approximate telepathic communication.
Ray Terrill is capable of converting his body completely into light energy. No physical harm can come to him in this form.
Stan Silver's full abilities and powers are largely undocumented. As noted above, he is apparently "capable of turning his body into a living laser light".
Lucien Gates can not become immaterial, rather the light forms a protective armor. In order to fly, Gates bounces off of reflective surfaces. His thought processes calculate hundreds of options, allowing him to redirect his path at light speed.
- In the final issue of 52, a new Multiverse is revealed, originally consisting of 52 identical realities. Among the parallel realities shown is one designated "Earth-10". As a result of Mister Mind "eating" aspects of this reality, it takes on visual aspects similar to the pre-Crisis Earth-X, including the Quality characters. The names of the characters and the team are not mentioned in the panel in which they appear, but a character visually similar to the "Happy" Terrill Ray appears. Based on comments by Grant Morrison, this alternate universe is not the pre-Crisis Earth-X.
- The 2007 series Countdown: Arena introduces several alternate versions of the Ray. On Earth-6, the former Atom (Ray Palmer) has become his world's Ray, a Nazi Ray exists on "Earth-10" and his closest Earth-50 parallel is prominent Wildstorm Universe character Apollo, a Superman pastiche who debuted in the early 1990s. It is strange to note that on Earth-10, Ray's Freedom Fighters are supposed to be the opposition of the fascist JL-Axis (the fascist Ray's costume matches Ray Terril's new uniform, so the heroic Ray on the Freedom Fighters could be his father, Happy), and Apollo is more commonly viewed as a Superman parallel (he is placed with the Rays apparently due to his light-based powers).
- A version of the Ray appears in the book Kingdom Come as one of the heroes loyal to Superman. He is also mentioned in being instrumental in stripping the radiation out of the Kansas soil both for the construction of the Gulag and Superman's reclamation of the land at the end of the story. It is not specified which incarnation of the Ray this is, although in promo art he is referred to as Ray II. In the final issue of 52, the setting of Kingdom Come was designated Earth-22 in the new Multiverse.
In other media
- The Ray makes several background appearances in the Justice League Unlimited animated series, although he is not given any lines. The Justice League Unlimited comic book established in #17 that this was Ray Terrill, and included Happy as a member of the Freedom Fighters.
- The Lanford Terrill version of Ray appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Cry Freedom Fighters" voiced by Tom Kenny. He appears as a member of the Freedom Fighters and accompanies them, Batman, and Plastic Man into freeing Qward from the government oppression caused by the Supreme Chairman of Qward.
- Ray Terrill starred in the CW DC TV crossover event titled "Crisis on Earth-X," in The Flash and DC's Legends of Tomorrow segments, portrayed by Russell Tovey.
- The Ray is a background student at Super Hero High in the web series DC Super Hero Girls.
- Russell Tovey reprises his role as The Ray for the prequel CW Seed series, "Freedom Fighters: The Ray". Ray is the first gay superhero to lead his own series.
- Greenberger, Robert (2008). "Freedom Fighters". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 131. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. OCLC 213309017.
- "MEETING THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS WITH GRAY & PAMIOTTI". Newsarama. 2006-05-11. Archived from the original on 2007-05-07. Retrieved 2007-05-12.
- Cavna, Michael (16 September 2011). "FIRST LOOK: DC Comics announces the new 'RAY'". Comic Riffs| The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
- 52 52: 12/1 (May 2, 2007), DC Comics
- Brady, Matt (2007-05-08). "THE 52 EXIT INTERVIEWS: GRANT MORRISON". Newsarama. Archived from the original on 2007-05-10. Retrieved 2007-05-12.