Saturday, April 5, 2014

E is for Electric Ray

Electric Ray had his one and only appearance in 1942, in the 26th and final issue of Centaur Publishing's Amazing Man series. Ray is working in a plant manufacturing things vital to the U.S. war effort when it becomes a target of saboteurs. While he is conducting his own investigation into the matter, he is set upon by enemy agents who throw him from the factory's roof onto a dynamo, which overloads with a spectacularly. The blast of electricity leaves Ray's body permanently charged with a lethal amount of electricity, which he can release through touching his bare skin to conductive material or other human beings.

Electric Ray is one of those characters that mostly likely couldn't exist today in the innocent form he does here. Instead of being a cheerful adventure story (with a fairly high body count, as no bad guy walks away from their encounter with Ray), I think it would swiftly turn into a Twilight Zone-esque horror story and Ray would soon be on the path to being a villain or a monster. For example, what will happen between Ray and his wife the first time they get intimate after Ray has gained the ability to light up the room in more than just metaphorical ways? And while this panel was probably intended as humorous back in the day, it seems like the sort of sentiment that would always have gotten Ray put on any number of watch lists:

Electric Ray's single appearance will be included in a future issue of Complete Golden Age Oddballs, along with some original writing that incorporates him into the NUELOW Games Heroes & Villains line-up. (And, while not much thought has been put into it yet, I suspect Ray will end up as one of the darker characters.)

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