Friday, September 23, 2016

Any Excuse To Talk About The Ray

So CW is going to do a series of animated shorts, or animated somethings, with The Ray, similar to what they did with Vixen previously, probably with an eye to incorporating him into the various live-action DC shows they have down the line. Assuming that's how it goes, I don't expect he'll look as cool as powered-up Ray did in the comics, but that's not new. I don't think live-action can match artists for making superhero stuff look cool. There's just a limit to what actors and costumes can achieve versus art, where you can do anything you can draw, regardless of whether it'd be at all feasible in the real world. Not a big issue, though.

And it turns out he's going to be gay, possibly a nod to an issue of Grant Morrison's Multiversity, where he did an updated version of the Freedom Fighters. Or they just recognized there's nothing about Raymond's character that requires him to be heterosexual, so why not broaden the range of people represented. I hadn't ever seen that comic, so I didn't know that had happened. My thought when I read the announcement was someone had been reading some of Ray's ongoing from the '90s.

There was an issue, #19 I think, that was part of Underworld Unleashed, where Ray is making out with this woman, who then reveals herself to be Neron, basically DC's Devil. And Neron makes Ray the old, "I'll give you X in exchange for your soul." Except Ray is more focused on having kissed a guy than about the fact the "guy" was the Devil*.

It's generally played as a joke; Neron even grows frustrated that Ray won't focus. I've always read it as Ray still being naive, not recognizing that as a superhero, these are the kind of things that will happen to him. Having seen the announcement about his character coming to TV, I thought, "Well, you could read that as his having been confused about his feelings after finding out it was a guy**." Then I started thinking about his other romantic relationships. The aborted one with Jenny Jurden, the only friend he had as a kid living inside in the dark all the time. There was Galeon, a young woman he meets when he and Black Canary are lost in time, who he finds out future him is having a relationship with. She also gives him a note with instructions on how many times to circle the sun to get home, which he gives to her as a kid when he meets her basically the moment he and Dinah reach home, and Child Galeon instantly develops a crush on him, which apparently persists to adulthood. Or there's whole puppy-dog thing with Dinah.

Jenny was the one person his age he had any connection with growing up, so he cares deeply for her. If his childhood friend had been John Jurden, would that have changed things for him? Dinah's the experienced older woman that mostly doesn't even seem to want him around, except when she can use him for something. She also seems like what popular culture tells young guys they should find attractive (especially as drawn in the '90s) Long blonde hair, big chest, fishnets, impractical heels for all that jumping and flipping, but what the hell. Maybe Ray's going with what everything around him says he should (or he's bisexual). As for the relationship with Galeon, I don't know. She saves him in the future, then he saves her as a kid, and she develops a crush on him, which apparently develops into something more, to the extent her future, cop, self travels back in time to try and straighten him out by stabbing Vandal Savage. I'm not sure what to make of all that. Future Ray doesn't seem to treat her that great, but Future Ray is a dick to everyone, a pitiless corporate ass, Justin Hammer with superpowers, so who knows.

It doesn't have to be read that he was a closeted (unknowing?) gay/bisexual who's trying heterosexual relationships because he thinks he's supposed to, but I could see that interpretation. Or he could be a young heterosexual guy with limited life experience making poor relationship decisions without a good support network. Relationships are tough, and Ray didn't have a lot of experience with people in general growing up. But it could also be that he was a young guy with limited life experience and no good support network, who is also gay.

We don't know much about his childhood, except that he was raised by his uncle (pretending to be his father), in a house kept perpetually dark***, and taught by nuns, I think. I have no idea what he learned about love, or sexuality, at all, but I can't imagine they spent much time explaining to him that sometimes boys are attracted to boys. They probably didn't mention the possibility at all. Now he's out in the world, but the man who raised him is dead. His birth father is a dick who has done nothing but lie to Raymond. His mother doesn't even know he's alive, because his father told her he died while being born (Happy Terrill may be the worst comic book dad ever). His boss is Vandal freaking Savage. His only other surviving relative is Hank, who looks and acts like the Fonz. I get the impression most of his Justice League teammates treated him like a dumb kid (J'onn seems like someone who'd be a good sounding board, but I don't think they were close). He's got effectively nobody to work through this stuff with.

I doubt much of that is playing into the character as he'll appear on TV, though I could be surprised.

*I think he actually makes the deal because he doesn't take it seriously, and that gets undone somehow. That's around the point in the series things started to get confused for me, because I think Priest was addressing things that were happening to Ray in Justice League Task Force, or Extreme Justice or something, and I don't really understand what those things were.

** Assuming a devil really has a gender. I guess they do if they want to.

*** Because his birth father's first son had the same powers, but stopped aging at 10, with the mind of a 4-year old, and was extremely dangerous. So Happy Terrill locked him in a missile silo for decades, alone.

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