“The Ray,” #4 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Jamal Igle draws the superheroic fun to a close, albeit in an odd, uncomfortably padded way. The fourth issue’s cover promised an epic battle between the Ray and Thaddeus Filmore (“his greatest enemy”) but the fight inside the cover was over before we reached the staples.
The hero of this installment — and the series — is, without question, Jamal Igle. Igle’s work is so insanely detailed, it’s not difficult to imagine how the police car robots would translate to the silver screen. There are plenty of quiet scenes to fill out the issue and Igle jams as much detail into those as he did into the action sequences. Igle brings a level of professionalism to his work rivaled only by his perfectionism. This issue is a wonderful sample of both and also would serve quite nicely as a study guide for any aspiring comic book artist. Everything is present in this issue: talking heads, groovy tech, energy blasts, architecture, fistfights, kissing characters, weapons, crowd scenes and so much more. Igle continues to impress with his work and this issue is no exception.
As I sat down to write this review, I found myself leaning towards a less favorable assessment of this chapter. Then I thought about it. Gray and Palmiotti gave us everything that comic book fans want to see: character development, epic battles, quiet moments for the titular character, interactions with his supporting cast and a tease towards what comes next. Why then does this conclusion feel so uncomfortable?
I can only surmise the uneasiness stems from the fact that, quite unlike the comic “standard,” this issue doesn’t drag the fight out until the end, conveniently wrapping the battle and all unrelated subplots at the same time. Instead, Gray and Palmiotti give Lucien Gates a chance to find some balance between superheroing and living his personal life. It’s fun to see Lucien get another chance at making a first impression with Chanti’s parents. The movie premiere the couple attends added to their relationship in a manner much like we’d see on a sitcom. There’s even another threat calling for the Ray to spring into action. It’s quickly dealt with, which nicely illustrates the Ray’s intent to continue on with the hero gig.
Additionally, the final page leaves the door open for further adventures of the Ray and it might even lead to exploits with other heroes. That final scene feels a whole lot like the end of a movie starring some of DC’s marvelous competition, but it also adds a new layer to the DC universe. I’m looking forward to more from this character and I hold out hope for more of “The Ray” by this creative team.