When Lucien Gates first got his super powers, his life became full of madcap hijinks, like the fact that he can't wear clothes without setting them aflame, so he just bends light to look like he's not naked all the time. Or the fact that, when trying to impress his girlfriend's parents, he bends light to look more like someone they might approve of, which is the exact wrong first impression to give to potential in-laws to convince them you're on the up-and-up. In The Ray #3, however, things have gotten serious – or, at least, as serious as they can be when someone gets kidnapped by robot bugs in high heels.
The fact that the robot bug has high heels is never even referenced beyond that one panel, but given the amount of crazy-go-nuts being foisted on our hero in this issue by the deranged reality-warping filmmaker man who bulls his way into Lucien's life, it's forgiveable. After managing to rescue Chanti from the clutches of "Feelin' Pretty" Bug-o-tron, Lucien comes face to face with a man insisting that he be the hero in his new movie, regardless of the fact that he's having a weighty argument with Chanti's family in the hospital at the time. This guy, only identifying himself as The Man Behind The Camera, shifts his suit into a full-on glowy red-and-black supervillain ensemble and gives Chanti's father a heart attack just to provoke Lucien into action.
It's almost the inverse of Spider-Man's origin – if he'd only listened to the mogul insisting the hero take part in ridiculous show business instead of paying attention to the people he loves and trying to do what's right, he might have spared Sanjeev's life. What the hell sort of moral lesson is Lucien supposed to draw from that? Maybe we'll find out in #4, the final issue of this miniseries.
The Ray is a series in which Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray seemed to set out to be a freewheeling festival of fun, but this issue proves you can't keep any superhero's origin completely angst-free. In fact, that angst is heightened a bit by how ludicrous this villain is – scatterbrained, completely entitled and pretty solidly sociopathic in his insistence that people don't matter, only his art does. Then he turns police cars into Transformers (although, speaking from an aficionado's perspective, they look more like Go-Bots – yes, there's a difference) and starts attacking the townsfolk with robots he just made up, all while Lucien is worried sick about Chanti and her father and trying to figure out how to reason with a truly unreasonable man.
The art from Jamal Igle is still pretty good, although I still really dislike the ugly design for The Ray's new "costume." Other than that, though, it's really busy and energetic and expressive, and it makes the book and its cast of characters that much more engaging.
Overall, this series has had a bright and refreshing tone and pace that's different from a lot of the New 52, and hopefully, this can get an extension to be a full on regular series. It's good, solid entertainment, and that last page of Chanti's makes me hope for another intriguing twist on the traditional role of "love interest for the hero" by the time this all shakes out.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 8/10