Co-writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray on THE RAY
A four-issue miniseries that debuted on Wednesday, THE RAY is an all-new identity for a classic DC Comics character – and a whole new life for Lucien Gates, the happy-go-lucky lifeguard transformed into a human ray of light by a military “sun gun.” As a hero, Lucien’s fine when faced with giant jellyfish – but he really starts to sweat when confronted by his disgruntled girlfriend. There’s action, there’s comedy – and co-writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray shine a light on just why THE RAY is the book to watch.
For readers who may not be familiar with THE RAY, what do we have to know before picking up the first issue?
JP: Not much really, since we approached the book from the point of view that a new reader would be picking it up. We tried to make the character and the situation, supporting cast and overall story as accessible as humanly possible. What you may want to know is that it is a limited series.
JG: Exactly, this is a ground floor entry to a new incarnation of the Ray so you don’t need any previous knowledge of the character to read it.
This sounds (and looks) quite a bit different from your work on JONAH HEX and ALL-STAR WESTERN. How do those books compare to THE RAY?
JP: Well, this is a straightforward superhero book that is a bit more fantastic in its premise. We also have only 4 issues to tell a story here, so it gets right to business. Honestly, if you enjoy our work, this should be a no brainer…but if you are new to our superhero work, why not try this first.
JG: One of the differences is the genre with The Ray being more of a wish fulfillment superhero comic in the classical sense with a modern twist. All-Star Western is a gritty period piece, but The Ray is built to be fun and exciting in a completely different way. These characters will seem familiar on some level, maybe even likable in a way that surprises readers.
What can you tell us about Lucien Gates?
JP: He is a good healthy young male with a supportive family and friends and is just getting started in life. He is smart, funny and makes some really big mistakes, like all of us.
JG: He’s a fun loving lifeguard who happens to have a very diverse and funny supporting cast. There’s a very grounded sense of normalcy to him that stands in contrast to his life as a superhero. He’s the kind of guy you’d like to hang out with and root for. And like JP said he makes mistakes, he’s very human and very much of his age group in terms of lacking a sophisticated or jaded outlook. That’s one of the aspects of the series that we hope people find refreshing.
How is he different from your garden-variety superhero?
JP: Lucien is embracing his superpowers and his new role where a lot of others are devastated by it, or choose to become more darker and brooding characters.
JG: He’s so easy going that he takes a lot of it in stride. Waking up one morning and finding out that you can fly at the speed of light would be awesome and that’s how he looks at it. Of course being naked all the time takes some getting used to.
What kinds of powers can we expect from a human ray of light?
JP: Just about anything we can come up with that is based on the idea of light, speed and the enigmatic form of energy that it is. Visible light is unlike any other fundamental element: it interacts with our senses and we explore all these things.
What do you love about writing the character?
JP: He is a positive person trying to do his best and I respect and like this idea and character. I can relate to him, which makes him easier to write.
JG: Looking at the world through Lucien’s eyes and writing about it is a chance to think outside our own experiences.
OK, the “light” puns are inevitable. What were some of your favorites and did anything end up on the cutting room floor?
JG: We did try to keep the puns to a minimum so that reviewers and the media could have fun with them.