Lightray

Created by Jack Kirby

NAME + ALIASES:
Sollis

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Unnamed parents (deceased), Akarl (brother, deceased)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
New Gods, Justice League International

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Original:
The New Gods v.1 #1 (Mar. 1971)
New 52:

+ History

Lightray is a god of New Genesis and best friend to that world's champion, Orion. While Orion is prone to anger and violence, Lightray is ever-cheerful. Lightray is said to be among the oldest of the New Gods, but his gentle demeanor and bright spirit make it easy to forget that he possesses great wisdom, and is a powerful combatant.

The character's origin was told in DC Special Series #10 (Apr. 1978), published during the time of the 1977 New Gods revival (or Earth-17 continuity). This era was later removed from continuity, so Lightray's origin story could have been invalidated, but it was instead canonized in Lightray's profile in Who's Who #13 (Mar. 1986).

Jack Kirby introduced the premise that the New Gods adopted "god names" along with their "god powers" (e.g., Izaya became Highfather), but Lightray is one of the few Fourth World characters whose birth name is known.

Young god Sollis is struck by mutants and gains great power. From DC Special Series #10 (1978); art by Don Newton and Frank Chiaramonte.

Pinup from New Gods v.1 #4 (1971); art by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta.

Lightray helps engineer the Glory Boat. From New Gods v.1 #6 (1971); art by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer.
Meeting Eve Donner in Metropolis. From New Gods v.1 #9 (1972); art by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer.

Lightray was born Sollis. When he was a young boy, he and Orion became inseparable friends. Occasionally they were joined by Metron, who was a "young adult" (however that is measured by immortals). One day the three explored a deep pit on New Genesis. At the bottom they found a great complex, a mutant nest serving as a secret outpost for Apokolips. These mutants were the result of the same evolutionary forces that created the Insect Empire (or "Bugs"). Sollis stumbled into view of the sentries, who were energy beings. Their sun-blasts struck Sollis with a million ergs of radiation and they were soon rescued by troops. Metron nursed Sollis back from death and when he awoke, his whole body was aglow. Highfather, leader of New Genesis, taught Sollis to control these powers and said that one day he must choose a new name, one more suitable to his new condition. (DC Special #10 •  Who's Who #13) Note: This story asserts that Lightray's powers were technologically derived, but all other accounts frame the New Gods' powers as inherent, or the result of a rite of passage. Lightray alludes to a more natural "ascension" to godhood in New Gods v.4 #3 (1995).

In post-Crisis tales, it was added that Lightray's family had lived on the surface of New Genesis. His older brother, Akarl (sometimes "Arkal"), was another one of Orion's best friends. Akarl and Lightray's parents were killed by the Insects during a retaliatory raid after Highfather used insecticides against them. (New Gods v.3 #2, 9) Notes: Lightray was not conntected to Akarl until New Gods v.3 #9. His entry in Who's Who in the DC Universe #4 (Nov. 1990) combined the events from DC Special with those from New Gods v.3.

Highfather declared that Lightray was too young and tried to protect him from the fighting with Apokolips. But Lightray never failed to hasten to confront danger, or to rush to Orion's aid on Apokolips or Earth — even if it meant disobeying Highfather. (New Gods v.1 #2-3) NOTE: Lightray has generally been portrayed as a "younger" god. John Byrne threw a curve ball in Jack Kirby's Fourth World #12 (Feb. 1998) in a story that claimed Lightray was actually among the oldest of the New Gods. His spirit belied that fact and made it easy to forget he possessed great wisdom.

One day Lightray found himself fleeing from the Black Racer —  the harbinger of death. He was saved by Metron, who diverted the Racer to Earth. (#3)

Meanwhile, Orion's mission on Earth escalated and Lightray was compelled to defy Highfather and help. He was taken down by the Deep Six, who encased him in mutant seaweed. Orion found him thus, and the two set about defeating the Six's humongous Leviathan. Lightray used his power to cleanse the mechanical brain of the Six's operation, turning it into a "seed" that would regrow in an uncorrupted way. The seed quickly grew into their own massive vehicle, the Glory Boat, which smashed the Leviathan. (#6)

Lightray remained at Orion's side on Earth and they repelled Orion's half-brother, Kalibak. After the battle, Lightray saw Orion's real face for the first time; it was savage but usually masked by the power of Orion's Mother Box. Lightray reassured his friend that it was of no consequence. He regarded his friend's features as mere scars. (#8) While Orion recovered they were invited to stay in the penthouse apartment of playwright Eve Donner. She seemed to take a liking to Orion, but in time would grow closer to Lightray instead. (#9)

Darkseid launched a large attack led by Mantis, and Lightray beat them back almost single-handedly. He located a sonic research and development center and used their device to transmit his own frequencies via laser beam. It broadcast a cosmic sound inaudible to humans, but Mantis' forces crumbled and retreated. (#10)

When Kalibak escaped, even Lightray's utmost power — a nova burst powerful as a meteor — failed to stop him. When Lightray was defeated, Orion turned the tide and slew his brother that day. (#11)

Earth-17

A quick change from his Earth-garb. From New Gods v.1 #15 (1977); art by Rich Buckler.

Lightray joined a group of New Gods and followed Orion to Earth to protect another raft of humans from Darkseid's ambition. He was charged with protecting Richard Roe, a drug addict in San Francisco (but he much preferred Roe's girlfriend, Debbi Drake). (#12) He remained on hand through their final battle with Darkseid's avatar of the Anti-Life Equation, the Antagonist. (#15-19) Note: This publishing era (in 1977) was removed from continuity by the publication of New Gods v.2 #6 (1984).

Post-Crisis

Pinup from Who's Who #4 (1990); art by Arthur Adams.
Surprise! Playwright Eve Donner likes drama. From New Gods #13 (1990); art by Paris Cullins and Will Blyberg.

As ever, Lightray was the costar of post-Crisis New Gods, following Orion into battle on Earth. (New Gods v.3 #1) After their mission, he lingered and visited Eve Donner. When they first met Eve showed interest only in Orion, but now she was hopelessly transfixed by Lightray's corona. It also turned out that Eve was one of countless humans whose mind harbored the secret to the Anti-Life Equation. Metron alerted Lightray when Darkseid kidnapped her and he mounted her rescue immediately. Darkseid couldn't be bothered with them; a blast of his Omega beams sent Lightray, Eve, and Orion to unfamiliar places. (#6) For mysterious reasons, Eve was returned to Earth by an unseen hand while Lightray zoomed across Apokolips to find Orion among the Necropolis of the Old Gods (called the Dreggs). (#8)

Eve suffered from mood swings. Her love for Lightray was met with aloofness, which only fueled her depression. When she confronted him, he admitted he was attracted to her, and kissed her as evidence. (#13)

In stopping another one of Darkseid's abductions, Lightray became obsessed with a different woman, Anne Flaherty. Flaherty was killed by a drunk driver before the New Gods found her, and Lightray was moved to learn more about her life. With Metron's help, he used a "liferock" to see into her past and was resolved to bring her back to life; she'd been taken too soon. (#27) Against Highfather's will, Lightray used a device that briefly revived Anne, but she crumbled to dust. (#28)

Justice League

Lightray and Orion take Mister Miracle's place in the Justice League America. From Justice League America #43 (1990); art by Adam Hughes and José Marzan Jr..
Pinup from Jack Kirby's Fourth World Gallery (1996); art by Dan Jurgens.
As the mad leader of the Sons of Light, Lightray dons regal attire, prepares to strike Sserpa. From New Gods #9 (1996); art by Keith Giffen.
Lightray is never afraid to become the warrior in defense of Earth or New Genesis. From Jack Kirby's Fourth World #4 (1997); art by John Byrne.
Orion heals Lightray after serious injuries from a fight with Kalibak. From Jack Kirby's Fourth World #9 (1997); art by John Byrne.

Lightray has served one very brief tenure with the Justice League. This was after Mister Miracle had apparently died on Earth (it had actually been an android duplicate), while in service to the JLA . Orion attended the funeral in secret and wondered whether Scott's time with the League had helped him somehow. Orion resolved to join and find out. (Justice League America #40) He also recruited Lightray to accompany him at the League Embassy in New York and they demanded to join (naturally, this happened just as Mister Miracle turned up alive). (#42) The JLA was in dire need of members and the pair were accepted into the ranks, but stayed only briefly. During their tenure, they helped the League battle Sonar (#43) and the Evil Eye. Orion stormed off; he acknowledged his respect for the Martian Manhunter but criticized the League for being too soft and compassionate. Lightray agreed, it wasn't his cup of tea. (#50)

Post-Zero Hour

Lightray became totally unhinged when Orion killed Darkseid inside the Source. (New Gods v.4 #2) The resulting corruption rippled across creation and infected Lightray with an impulse for rebellion. While Highfather was preoccupied with his own demons, Lightray assembled an army on New Genesis, sat upon Highfather's throne, and began a bombing campaign against the planet's tribe of Primitives. (#4)

The "Sons of Light" carried out his orders while the Primitives were led by warriors Aarden and Sserpa. Mother Herrae, leader of the Primitives, formed an alliance with the Insect Empire, and was also aided by Highfather, deflected an attack by Lightray then overpowered him handily. But when Highfather was called away, Lightray returned to his malevolent ways. (#5) Note: This story retcons the destruction of the Insect Empire, from New Gods v.3 #5 (1989).

Lightray was a tyrant in regal attire when Orion returned to confront his friend. Lightray dropped an entire segment of their fallen city on Orion (to no effect) and Orion was forced to unleash his fullest power, pummeling LIightray into submission while mourning, "I love you Lightray." (#9) Metron charged that Lightray was too mad for any known remedy, and so he was imprisoned in a new asylum built by Highfather and the goddess Atinai. (#9) Very soon, Lightray was cured when Darkseid and Highfather took drastic action by merging Apokolips and New Genesis, and healed the Source. (#11)

The New Gods were scattered and made amnesiac by this cosmic calamity. Lightray appeared on Earth's moon, where the being called Takion (an avatar of the Source) removed the last remnants of evil from him. (Takion #7) The two of them headed to Earth to find the rest of the New Gods. Beautiful Dreamer learned a bit about their situation by reaching into Lightray's memories. (New Gods v.4 #14)

When they returned to New Genesis, Lightray was critically injured by Kalibak. Orion overpowered his brother then used his Mother Box to heal Lightray, who could not move his arms. (Jack Kirby's Fourth World #9)

He returned the favor when Orion needed his strength the most: in battle against Darkseid. Lightray gifted Orion with a small cube which restored harness and fortified his armor for battle. At one point he also undertook a secret mission in order to clear up the matter of Orion's parentage. He visited a seer named Tatheta in the Armagetto of Apokolips. She had been nanny and lady-in-waiting to Orion's mother, Tigra. Before Lightray could glean anything useful, soldiers arrived and smashed the place. Lightray never got to see the brooch that belonged to Tigra — containing pictures of her husband and her infant. (Orion #4) Orion claimed the throne of Apokolips, which Lightray questioned but left him on good faith. (#6) As Orion became more a slave to the power of the Anti-Life Equation inside him, Lightray was his touchstone, offering to repair his harness again and to take Orion's Mother Box back to New Genesis. (#9)

Lightray was enthralled by Justeen of Apokolips and publicly denounced Orion to the people of New Genesis, but soon all gods were puppets of Orion and Anti-Life. (#11-13) Lightray was dispatched to find Darkseid and Metron, who plotted to stop Orion. All were saved by Scott Free, who secretly used his own command of the Anti-Life to trick Orion through a one-way portal to oblivion. (#15)

Orion shed his power and found a way back to Earth, where he was captured by the power-mad human, Arnicus Wolfram. Lightray tracked Orion's trace signal and returned Orion's talismans of power. (#21)

Final Crisis

Jimmy Olsen rushes to Lightray's side as the god dies in Metropolis. From Countdown #48 (2007); art by David Lopez.
The Gods of New Genesis are reborn in the Earth-51 universe, which is also the home of Kamandi and refugees from Darkseid's experiments with Simyan and Mokkari. From Final Crisis #6 (2009); art by J. G. Jones.

Lightray's death was completely without warning. A mysterious "god killer" combed the Fourth World and Earth, leaving gaping holes in the chests of the New Gods. The culprit was the Source itself. It was sentient and had decided to cull the gods as part of a plan to "start over," and create the Fifth World. The Source deputized the Infinity Man as its assassin and the souls of the New Gods would serve as the raw material for rebirth. (Death of the New Gods #5)

The Infinity Man worked in secret and Lightray was his first known victim, murdered on Earth. (Countdown #48) When Big Barda was also discovered dead, Scott Free and the Justice League initiated an aggressive investigation. (Death of the New Gods #1)

The Source manipulated Scott Free into using his Anti-Life power to destroy the original Source Wall, which gave the being access to the power it needed. (#6) Scott asked the Source for death, and it was granted. Metron followed thereafter, (#7) and only Darkseid and Orion remained (but not for long).

The Fourth World was destroyed and the New Gods were now only spirits. On Earth, they were able to manifest themselves within human avatars, but they were weak. (Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle #??) Darkseid found a way to make a stronger avatar, but his grab for power was thwarted by Superman. He used a special machine, a version of a Mother Box capable of a single operation, to calculate the Life Equation. It was powered by Metron's Mobius Chair, and the multiverse was corrected. Lightray and the gods of New Genesis were reborn as the guardians of Earth-51. (Final Crisis #7)

+ Powers

Lightray controls energy on an elemental scale. Aside from emitting light and having the power of flight, he can absorb, channel and change energies into many powerful forms. He has been shown to emit blinding light or create the atomic force of a sun (a "nova burst").

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

  • 1st Issue Special #13
  • Action Comics #705
  • Adventure Comics #459-460
  • Adventures of Superman #489
  • Armageddon 2001 #2
  • Batman & Superman: World's Finest #4
  • Darkseid vs. Galactus: The Hunger
  • DC Challenge #8, 10-12
  • DC Graphic Novel 4: The Hunger Dogs
  • DC Special Series #10
  • Guy Gardner: Warrior #29
  • History of the DC Universe #2
  • JLA #24, 27
  • Justice League of America: The Nail #2
  • Justice League America #42-45, 47, 49, 50, Annual #9
  • Justice League of America #185
  • Martian Manhunter #34
  • Mister Miracle v.1 #18, 27
  • Mister Miracle v.3 #1-3
  • Outsiders v.2 #22
  • Showcase '96 #3
  • The Spectre v.3 #19
  • Superboy & the Ravers #14
  • Superman/Aliens II #1-3
  • Superman/Batman: Generations III #2, 4, 7, 9
  • Superman: The Man of Steel #10, 20, 40
  • Superman v.2 #65, 66, 95
  • Superman: The Dark Side #1-3
  • Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #141
  • Super-Team Family #15
  • Takion #7
  • Warlord Annual #6
  • Thorion of the New Asgods (Amalgam, as Bald'r)
  • War of the Gods #4
  • Who's Who v.1 #13, 16
  • Who's Who in the DC Universe v.4 #4, 16
  • Zero Hour #3

» SERIES:

  • The New Gods v.1, 19 issues (1971–72, 1977–78)
  • New Gods v.2, 6-issue limited series (1984)
  • DC Graphic Novel #4: The Hunger Dogs, graphic novel (1985)
  • Cosmic Odyssey, 4-issue limited series (1988)
  • New Gods v.3, 28 issues (1989–91)
  • New Gods v.4, 15 issues (1995-97)
  • Genesis, 4-issue limited series (1997)
  • Jack Kirby's Fourth World, 20 issues (1997-98)
  • Orion, 25 issues (2000-02)

» SEE ALSO: