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Freedom Fighters: The Ray

The Ray DC CW Crisis on Earth-X

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#1 Virgil Vox

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 09:33 PM

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Freedom Fighters: The Ray is a CW Seed cartoon that shows how Ray Terrill, aka The Ray, became the superhero that was introduced in the Crisis on Earth-X cross-over event. There are six “episodes” but I’m going to review the series in its entirety.

It gets off to a rollicking start as we are introduced to the Freedom Fighters (The Ray, Phantom Lady, Black Condor, Doll Man, Red Tornado, and Vibe) as they fight Overgirl, Dark Arrow, Blitzkrieg, and their army of Nazis. The Freedom Fighters are outmatched and Red Tornado gets damaged badly. The Ray takes Tornado’s cortex which contains the whereabouts of the resistance’s base. Vibe opens up a portal for him, but not before he is gravely injured.

We are then introduced to Earth-1 Ray. He works for a government housing agency and is fighting for protections against minorities since it is legal in many states for LGBT Americans to lose housing simply because of their sexual orientation.

This Ray is a meeker version. He’s 22, living with his parents, still in the closet to said parents, and trying to live up to the shadow cast by his older brother, who was a Marine who died in combat. His life changes forever when Earth-X Ray shows up in Ray’s backyard and transfers both the cortex and his powers to Earth-1 Ray.

Overall, I liked these six episodes. I do wish they had just been combined into one episode since breaking them up does hurt the flow somewhat.

Russell Tovey does a good job voicing his character. I still can’t get used to his American accent, though. It’s not bad, just so different. Melissa Benoist, Danille Panabaker, and Carlos Valdes provide the voice for their respective characters, which was nice.
I like the story, though it does feel rushed. I will say that despite the time limitations it does a good job of introducing us to Ray and showing us his early attempts at mastering his powers and becoming a superhero.

As a gay man, I liked the fact that Ray’s sexuality was part of his character and wasn’t just brushed aside. He is living with conservative parents and is afraid of disappointing them since he is now the only child. Being more or less closeted has also hurt his love life, like when he has to sneak out of the house to talk to his date on the phone. His date replies that he stopped having to sneak around his parents once he graduated high school.

The Earth-X portions are nice, showing us the devastation the Nazis have caused. I also found it interesting that instead of Reverse-Flash, the evil speedster is apparently Barry Allen going by the codename Blitzkrieg. I am assuming something happens to him between this series and the cross-over.

The action doesn’t disappoint, though the majority of it takes place in the first two episodes. Things slow down once Earth-1 Ray is introduced, though we do see him using his powers to stop a mugging and a bank robbery. There is also a Vibe vs. Blitzkrieg battle towards the end.

The series does end on a cliffhanger. I hope we get a second season because there’s still a lot they need to fill in. The Ray hasn’t made his war to Earth-X yet. The status of the cortex is still up in the air. The Earth-X villains have just discovered that the cortex is on Earth-1.

Freedom Fighters: The Ray is a nice addition to the Crisis on Earth-X event that gives a little more back story to The Ray and the Nazis. Hopefully if it does get a second season more connections will be made between the cartoon and the crossover.
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#2 Christopher

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 10:40 PM

I found it really surprising that the story just cut off after 6 chapters, when it had barely gotten started. The pacing here was really poor. It would've been better if the opening battle had been half the length and if Ray hadn't taken so long to get into the heroic swing of things. Also, I'm not sure the season was originally meant to cut off after 6 episodes, because there were reports of guest stars who never showed up in the released episodes (including Megalyn E.K. as Vixen and Echo Kellum as Mr. Terrific).

The story of the Ray getting his powers and dealing with the dilemma of coming out to his conservative parents isn't handled all that compellingly, at least for me. And though the show wears its progressive politics on its sleeve, it feels kind of like just going through the motions so far. That's another problem with the slow pace. It didn't really go into enough depth with anything except action sequences.

I'm not sure whether Blitzkrieg is Barry Allen or not. Early reports said he would be, but the show never specified, and the actor doing his voice (Scott Whyte) didn't sound anything like Grant Gustin (in contrast to Matthew Mercer, who did a fairly good Stephen Amell impression).

There are some continuity glitches resulting from the decision to use the Ray in the "Crisis" crossover, with some story details being changed too late for the animated series to catch up. (I kinda suspect the producers originally intended something different for this year's crossover but were prompted to do a Nazi story by current events.) Cartoon Ray has clearly heard of the Flash and other superheroes, while live-action Ray doesn't seem to recognize them. Oliver-X is called Black Arrow in the cartoon and Dark Arrow in the crossover. Red Tornado's body is destroyed in the cartoon but intact in the crossover, though I guess he could've been rebuilt somehow. RT also says there are thousands of parallel Earths, not just 53. (RT in the webseries is voiced by Iddo Goldberg, who played him and his creator in Supergirl.) Also, the animated Ray has powers the live-action version didn't display, like the ability to materialize his costume at will, turn into a beam of light, or turn intangible by "vibrating his atoms" like the Flash.
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#3 Virgil Vox

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 03:34 PM

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I found it really surprising that the story just cut off after 6 chapters, when it had barely gotten started. The pacing here was really poor. It would've been better if the opening battle had been half the length and if Ray hadn't taken so long to get into the heroic swing of things. Also, I'm not sure the season was originally meant to cut off after 6 episodes, because there were reports of guest stars who never showed up in the released episodes (including Megalyn E.K. as Vixen and Echo Kellum as Mr. Terrific).

It did have pacing problems. From what I understand, they started making the cartoon before they cast someone as the live action Ray. Once they cast Russell Tovey they made the decision to go back and make the cartoon Ray look more like Tovey and have him voice the character. I guess that put them behind and changed up their plans for the season.

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The story of the Ray getting his powers and dealing with the dilemma of coming out to his conservative parents isn't handled all that compellingly, at least for me. And though the show wears its progressive politics on its sleeve, it feels kind of like just going through the motions so far. That's another problem with the slow pace. It didn't really go into enough depth with anything except action sequences.

As a gay man who grew up in a conservative family with conservative parents his dilemma resonated with me and I found it compelling. I've been where Ray has been.

What's funny is that while I was watching the show I was getting an ad for a conservative Republican running for the Senate here in Texas. It made me laugh because that ad didn't know its audience at all.

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I'm not sure whether Blitzkrieg is Barry Allen or not. Early reports said he would be, but the show never specified, and the actor doing his voice (Scott Whyte) didn't sound anything like Grant Gustin (in contrast to Matthew Mercer, who did a fairly good Stephen Amell impression).

True, it could be someone else. I just figured since the other characters are simply evil Nazi counterparts Blitzkrieg would be as well.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#4 Christopher

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 08:48 PM

View PostVirgil Vox, on 18 February 2018 - 03:34 PM, said:

From what I understand, they started making the cartoon before they cast someone as the live action Ray. Once they cast Russell Tovey they made the decision to go back and make the cartoon Ray look more like Tovey and have him voice the character. I guess that put them behind and changed up their plans for the season.

With Vixen, they specifically cast voice actors that could go on to appear in live action, as Megalyn Echikunwoke did in Arrow -- although Legends of Tomorrow recast Kuasa (which is a shame, since I suspect Anika Noni Rose would've given a better performance than Tracy Ifeachor has). So I would've thought they'd cast the Ray's voice with a future live-action appearance in mind. For whatever reason, they must've changed their minds about the actor and gone with Tovey instead.

And they say they redesigned Ray's animation model to look more like Tovey, but I don't really see much resemblance.



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As a gay man who grew up in a conservative family with conservative parents his dilemma resonated with me and I found it compelling. I've been where Ray has been.

Sure, I get that. I mean, there are a number of LGBT writers and producers behind the show, including Greg Berlanti at the top, so it's to be expected that it comes from an authentic place. But it just felt to me like they weren't really doing much with it story-wise other than just showing it. Yes, representation is important, but it should have an impact on the story rather than just being "Hey, look at this."

Maybe it's a pacing problem with the split season again. I imagine that setting up Ray's experiences with intolerance is meant to give him motivation for going to Earth-X to fight Nazis, but we have to wait who knows how long to see that part of the story.


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I'm not sure whether Blitzkrieg is Barry Allen or not. Early reports said he would be, but the show never specified, and the actor doing his voice (Scott Whyte) didn't sound anything like Grant Gustin (in contrast to Matthew Mercer, who did a fairly good Stephen Amell impression).

True, it could be someone else. I just figured since the other characters are simply evil Nazi counterparts Blitzkrieg would be as well.

Sure, that's what we all expected, but we can't be certain. The Arrowverse Wiki lists the character only as Blitzkrieg.

Besides, speedsters seem to be kind of unusual in how the Multiverse distributes their powers. While some characters tend to have the same power as their doppelgangers -- e.g. the Caitlins of Earth-1 and -2 and the Ciscos of Earth-1, -2, and -X -- each world seems to have different speedsters: Barry and Wally (and eventually Thawne) on Earth-1, Hunter Zolomon and Jesse Wells on Earth-2, Jay Garrick on Earth-3, Edward Clariss in Flashpoint Earth-1, the Accelerated Man on Earth-19. The one speedster we know of who might have a doppelganger who's also a speedster is Jay Garrick -- since we got a glimpse of the 1990 John Wesley Shipp Flash during Barry's first crossing to Earth-2, and since multiple actors from the '90 show have reprised their roles in the new show, suggesting they're doppelgangers of the originals (Amanda Pays, Alex Desert, Vito D'Ambrosio, Mark Hamill, Corinne Bohrer). So it would actually fit the pattern if Blitzkrieg weren't Barry Allen, but yet another distinct character. Maybe that's actually intentional.
"You don't use science to show that you're right, you use science to become right." -- xkcd

"The first man to raise a fist is the man who's run out of ideas." -- "H. G. Wells," Time After Time


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