A Year of Cool Comics - Day 188

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here's the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at the Ray Annual #1 by Christopher Priest and Oscar Jimenez...


Okay, I've already featured the Robin Annual from this year and now the Ray Annual. The 1995 annuals for DC were all "Year One" annuals (it was a great idea). They either had "Year One"s for DC characters or, for those books starring new characters, they just featured major events in their lives (I believe Superboy discovered who he was a clone of, for instance, in his Annual).

Christopher Priest decided to make the Annual a major event in the life of the Ray.

First, let's do a quick set-up of the book. Ray Terrill grew up thinking he had a disease that would not allow him to be exposed to light. When he was a teenager, he discovered that that was BS. His father was Happy Terrill, the original Ray, and his father had tricked him because he did not want Ray to know that he had inherited his father's powers.

Okay, so Ray now has light powers. He becomes a superhero known as the Ray. His father, though, keeps coming back to teach him "lessons" (and since his father can use his powers to take on different guises, that can be quite a pain). Meanwhile, Ray had created a holographic video game simulation to help him train to be a superhero. Through a freak accident, the video game character, Death Masque, has come alive and now thinks that the "game" is still going on. Finally, Ray has a girlfriend of sorts called Jenny. She was his only friend when everyone thought he was "night boy."

So in the Annual, Death Masque attacks a plane (a plane Jenny told Ray that she was on).

The Annual opens with Ray reflecting on the attack...

Then we cut to the actual event, and Priest and Jimenez do an utterly beautiful job of capturing the scope of what Ray is trying to do here...

(Click on the above spread to enlarge)

Garth Ennis recently did a bit in the Boys about just how hard it would be for a superhero, even someone like Superman, to rescue a large jet plane, mostly because of the whole "even if he could lift it, the plane would not hold together" deal. This issue really brings that to heart as we see just how insanely difficult what Ray is trying to accomplish is here.

After a sequence showing how Ray manages to save the plane from completely crashing, we see what happens when he helps the plane come in for an emergency landing - and as we have seen time after time in air disasters, even if you miraculously get on to the ground in one piece, it doesn't mean that you're out of trouble...but even beyond that, Priest really develops this sequence well, showing Ray's unique outlook on what is happening, as he says a prayer...

Ray later visits the funerals of all the people he did not save, and the bottle of alchohol that has been hanging over the issue like a Sword of Damocles is finally broken open...

After some various machinations by Death Masque and/or Ray's father, plus Ray dealing with losing Jenny (she is not among the survivors of the flight), we finally get the meeting between Superman and Ray (the way they meet is hilarious - Ray thinks it is his father pretending to be Superman, and, well, it is worth seeking out the issue just for that two-page spread)...

Wonderful stuff, no?

Jimenez does a good job on the pencils (although he was still fairly raw as an artist - he would get a lot better over the years - just compare this art to his work on JLA in 1997).

Go find this annual! It can't be too expensive on the back issue market, right?

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