This page is for the original Ray, Langford Terrill.
For the second Ray, visit the Ray page.
For the third Ray, visit the Stan Silver page.
For the New52 Ray, visit the Lucien Gates page.
During the early 40s, Langford “Happy” Terrill was a reporter for a New York newspaper called The Star. His life was forever changed on the day he covered the ascent of Professor Styne’s “strato-balloon” into the upper atmosphere. When a powerful electrical storm arose, Terrill bravely left the cabin of the balloon to close its outer airlock. The balloon swung into the storm by a sudden gust of air turbulence. Terrill was struck by a large amount of electrical energy and ambient sunlight, giving him super-powers. Calling himself the Ray, Terrill became a crimefighter and fought Nazis, Saboteurs and Fifth Columnist.
The Ray kept his origin, but also became a member of the All-Star Squadron (of Earth-2) during the War Years. He was later recruited by the mysterious Uncle Sam to join the Freedom Fighters in battling the Axis powers on the parallel world called Earth-X. The Ray remained on Earth-X for decades fighting Nazi forces that eventually took control of that Earth. With help from the Justice Society of America and the Justice League of America, the Freedom Fighters succeeded in overthrowing Earth-X’s Nazi government.
The Ray went along with the rest of the Freedom Fighters to the parallel world of Earth-1 (home of the JLofA). Eventually the Ray and the rest of the Freedom Fighters found themselves wanted by the law. After the situation was resolved, the Ray went back to Earth-X with the other Freedom Fighters to help rebuild it.
The Ray next played an important part during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, which was a storyline that would merge all the multiple Earths together in one so to eliminate any confusion. This erased The Ray's Earth-X days, and merged the character's All-Star Squadron and Freedom Fighter histories so that he was the primary member of the Squadron with the Freedom Fighters being a splinter group.
New information was revealed about Ray’s past. Before World War II, the government established a secret group known as RONOL (Research on the Nature of Light). One RONOL member, Dr. Dayzl, theorized that the light that originated millennia ago where Earth now orbits would eventually circumnavigate the universe and return as a dangerous, conscious entity.
Dayzl believed the only way to stop the “Light Entity” was to talk to it. Tricking a reporter named Happy Terrill into joining them, Dayzl and his assistants staged an upper atmosphere ballooning "accident," making certain Terrill was exposed to a genetic "light bomb." Dayzl calculated that Terrill's offspring would be a unification of human and light energy, a potential liaison to the Light Entity. Unaware of the truth, Terrill used his resulting powers to become the super-heroic Ray. Simultaneously, RONOL lost government backing due to Dayzl's unorthodox beliefs. Dayzl's fate remains unknown.
In 1950, after learning the truth, Terrill retired his crimefighting identity. Terrill and his first wife had a child named Joshua. For a time Joshua accompanied Ray on missions as his sidekick " Spitfire". However Joshua was prone to violent outbursts, he was place in suspended animation in the 1950s only to wake up again in the future, still only 10 years old. After a brief association with his old team, the Freedom Fighter in the 70s, he had remarried and settled down. Everything seemed normal until Terrill saw his newborn son ( Ray Terrill) glowing with crackling energy in the hospital nursery. He was convinced Dayzl's long ago theories were correct. He now believed his son would one day have the power to confront the Light Entity. Not wanting to put his wife through torment, Terrill told her that the baby had died, but in realty he had set up his son with a foster father (Terrill’s brother, Thomas).
A New Direction
Terrill is once again recruited by Uncle Sam, this time to ask Neon the Unknown for help. Neon, completely detached from humanity, refuses, but allows Terrill to drink from the waters of his oasis. Terrill’s light powers are added to Neon’s energy and he becomes the new Neon the Unknown, known simply as "Neon".
New52: Multiversity & Convergence
Even when a new Ray debuted in the new52 without any connection to the Terril family, the original Ray reappered in a double fashion in the DC universe post Flashpoint.
In Convergence he was again member of the Freedom Fighters along with Plastic man fighting for save his nazi ruled city against hordes of cyborg superheroes from the Futures End timeline.
In Multiversity: Mastermen, Langford is part of a Freedom Fighters team composed of representatives of minories persecuted by the nazi regime. It was implied than this version of the Ray is gay.
Skills and Abilities
The Ray is a skilled hand-to-hand combatant and has remained fairly young over the years, perhaps due to the mystical presence of his former teammate Uncle Sam.
The Ray can use light, heat and electricity in a variety of ways. He can absorb these forms of energy from outside sources or discharge them from his body. He can emit simple beams of light or electrical charges from his hands, or project powerful, destructive laser-like beams. The Ray can use his light powers to fly at great speeds and at times carry other people by holding onto them. It’s been said he can even transform himself into pure light.
After drinking from the water of Neon’s oasis, The Ray can also project neonic energy blast.