Justice League Of America – The Ray
Contributed by Levi Raab
DC has made large strides in queer representation in recent years, giving long-established characters like Batwoman more prominence, and elevating the status of somewhat lesser-known characters like Midnighter and Apollo, such as with Steve Orlando’s solo Midnighter book from the DC You initiative. And as much as I enjoyed reading Midnighter and seeing a gay man in a starring role, I couldn’t fully identify with him. The gritty and violent vigilante and I might’ve shared the same orientation, but that’s where the comparison stops. But in Orlando’s “The Ray: Rebirth” I feel like I’ve finally found a mainstream comic character that really represents me.
“The Ray: Rebirth” introduces the latest version of the Ray, a member of the new and more inclusive Justice League of America. Ray Terrill, in his journey of becoming the Ray, explores and forms his own personal identity as well, overgoing a sort of “coming out” over the course of the issue. But Ray never has to outright say that he’s gay, his sexuality is presented as a given, with nothing drawing special attention to it. It feels natural and perfectly in place, and it’s refreshing to see queer identity presented so simply.
Stephen Byrne delivers wonderfully characteristic art and incredibly vibrant color for the spotlight issue. Byrne’s high-energy style lends itself perfectly to the Ray’s light-based abilities, with a careful use of lighting that feels almost cinematic throughout.
The Ray is young and idealistic, a hero at the beginning of his career. He has great potential to become a role-model for the gay community, representing strength, love, and empathy, an icon in the way superheroes were designed to be.