By: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray (writers), Jamal Igle (penciller), Rich Perrotta (inker), Guy Major (colorist)

The Story: Guess who’s coming to dinner?  The Ray!

The Review: I was thoroughly unimpressed with the debut of this mini last month, and was of a good mind to drop it immediately.  But I figured that since I already put the money in for one issue, I might as well check out the next one to see if things improve.  After all, it wasn’t so much that the writing or art of #1 was bad; they just felt commonplace and contrived, much more planned than inspired.

It’s not great that for the second time in a row, we open on a monster attack upon San Diego, with the Ray filling you in with some narrated exposition as he takes them down.  That’s par for the course, considering the six-issue constraint Palmiotti-Gray have on their story, but it still would’ve been nice to see more of the action taking place than having it told to us.  Besides, Ray always manages to defeat them so quickly, and with so little evident threat to his person, that you tend to skim past the scenes anyway.

At any rate, the meat of the story involves Lucien’s first meeting with Chanti’s culturally sensitive parents, whom he tries to please by getting into Indian costume and sucking up, big time.  At least he has the good grace to admit he was being an idiot (the title of the scene is actually “Yes…  I Am an Idiot”), because it is a monumentally idiotic move, one that would never, ever fly in real life for a second.  The idea reeks like a premise for a first/last-season episode of a WB sitcom starring Mindy Kaling and John Cho—which, sadly, I’d probably watch.

The scene demonstrates how everything about the writing practically shouts that it has a political or social statement to make, which tends to rub me the wrong way.  If you’re a storyteller with a dearly-held point you want to communicate through your story, you’ll have to do it with a lot of subtlety.  Certainly more than having Darius tell Chanti how her parents are out of line to believe she’s being corrupted by America: “Corrupted how?  Because you’re an independent woman with a high profile-job [sic] and her own opinions?”

Add to all this a superhero plot involving a sadistic and immortal film director who wants to make the world into his own personal masterwork, and you have a title that feels mostly cheesy and not a little ridiculous.  And Thaddeus Filmore is such a silly villain, coming up with such lines as, “I think we found our young and tragically doomed protagonist.”  It’s true the whole point of the series is to be at least half tongue-in-cheek, but that only works so far as the comedy does, and Gray-Palmiotti are hardly joke-writers.

Igle conveys a lightheartedness in his art that meshes very well with the tone of the series, and he has a good eye for design.  If you’re going to have a B-movie alien invasion plot (as Thaddeus imagines it, apparently), you definitely want the aliens to look like the metallic insectoids that fall out of the sky munching on and capturing people at will as they wield laser guns from one of their many arms.  On the other hand, there’s a flat quality to his figures that makes them look less impressive than they might be, though Major’s colors round them out somewhat.

Conclusion: DC has a lot of great ongoings and minis out right now, and in these hard times, I had better put my money into them rather than middling efforts, which The Ray certainly is.

Grade: C

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – As a side-note, I think it’s very interesting that two white guys think they can write credibly or with much experience about race or interracial relationships.  I don’t think it’s impossible, but I’d say that’s an uphill task.