If you follow me as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club, you might remember that I elected to rant and rave about how awesome I thought Ray Terrill (as played by Russell Tovey) was when we met him and his boyfriend Leo Snart kicking butt as members of the Freedom Fighters on Earth-X.
The digital animated series, Freedom Fighters: The Ray, which was recently released on CW Seed, was obviously under production at a different time than the “Crisis on Earth-X” crossover and that has led to an expansion of the titular Freedom Fighters in a way that there just wasn’t room for during the still very impressive crossover event (which was the very first live action Crisis event #DCTV has ever had). The Ray of Earth-1 gets an origin story in the first half of this eponymous series that pulls a lot from his comic book roots, spending his youth assuming that he had an allergy to sunlight only to discover that he is, in fact, a solar battery.
The Ray is eventually joined on his crusade against the Fuhrer by Phantom Lady, who is one of the earliest female Golden Age superheroes. For those who don’t know her history, Phantom Lady was originally published by Quality Comics before DC Comics acquired her and gave her a new alter ego, Sandra Knight, who was a founding member of the comic book Freedom Fighters. Of course, this was simply the beginning and Phantom Lady has gone on to enjoy three additional alter egos under the DC banner, including Dee Tyler, Stormy Knight and Jennifer Knight. They all share the same basic powerset, which is usually just described as “phantom-like” and allows her to project her enemies into a contained reality for a really brief period of time. This power in particular is readily on display in Freedom Fighters: The Ray, especially during her battle with Overgirl in the second episode.
Fun fact: Phantom Lady was the inspiration for Silk Spectre in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ iconic WATCHMEN.
Black Condor is another prominent member of the Freedom FIghters who, much like Phantom Lady, was created at Quality Comics before being absorbed by DC and shunted over to Earth-X to fight Nazis. He has enjoyed three identities since his origin. Originally, Black Condor’s alter ego was Richard Grey, Jr., then Ryan Kendall and eventually John Trujillo. John is the version who appears in Freedom Fighters: The Ray if his costume is any evidence. In the comics, John eventually teams up with Phantom Lady as a member of the Freedom Fighters (working under S.H.A.D.E.).
Red Tornado rounds out the Ray’s team of Freedom Fighters on the show and #DCTV fans will already know a lot about this character. He was an integral part on Young Justice, serving as mentor to a new generation of heroes alongside Black Canary, was one of Supergirl’s first villains during her debut season of television and he made a brief appearance in “Crisis on Earth-X.” In the second episode of Freedom Fighters: The Ray, there’s even a sequence that’s an homage back to Supergirl and Red Tornado’s first conflict. The evil Overgirl blasts Red Tornado with her heat vision and takes him down with ease just like her Earth-39 counterpart did.
Another familiar face mixed into the fray is Earth-X’s Vibe who pops in at the end of episode two with just enough time to get the Ray as he’s on his way to Earth-1 to meet his doppelganger and hopefully secure the future savior of the world he was born on. Vibe is probably also owed a debt of gratitude from Leo Snart for facilitating the existence of his future boyfriend...
Fans of “Crisis on Earth-X” will get a chance to meet the Flash of Earth-X in this animated series as well. He is cleverly called Blitzkrieg and has an outfit similar to those worn by Overgirl and Black Arrow here. Little additions and Easter Eggs like this are some of the coolest things about the CW Seed animated series. They have an opportunity to expand on the mythology of this television universe in ways that the main shows either don’t or can’t for whatever reason. Blitzkrieg is pretty evil for the short look we get at him in the first three episodes of the season. In every way, he is the opposite of the goodness that Barry Allen of Earth-1 personifies for his universe.
The first half of Freedom Fighters: The Ray works as a series of really compelling building blocks expanding on the groundwork that was laid in the latter half of the “Crisis on Earth-X” crossover. We get a chance to see more of Earth-X, learn exactly how a man from Earth-1 became the resistance leader on Earth-X, and are introduced to the cast of characters that are going to be backing him up in the resistance. Regular #DCTV watchers will get a kick out of it, and I can’t recommend enough that you hop from this article over to the CW Seed and dip your toe in this pool!
The entire first season of Freedom Fighters: The Ray is now available for streaming on CW Seed.
Ashley V. Robinson covers The Flash as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club. You can find her on Twitter at @AshleyVRobinson and on the Jawiin YouTube channel.