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Western Animation / Freedom Fighters: The Ray

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Freedom Fighters: The Ray is an animated web series that aired in 2017 on CW Seed. It's part of the Arrowverse and it is the second animated series to be set in that universe, but unlike Vixen, it takes place on a parallel world called Earth-X — where the Nazis won WWII.

It focuses on Ray Terrill / The Ray (Russell Tovey) who, while investigating a secret project of government officials attempting to use light as a weapon of mass destruction, got caught. The head of the project exposed Ray to a "genetic light bomb", hoping to kill him, but instead it gave him light-based powers. Realizing he could actually stop crime instead of just report about it, Ray joins Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters to fight crime and oppression. However their task isn't easy for they have to contend with the enforcers of the Nazi Regime — the New Reichsmen, who bear a remarkable resemblance to the heroes of Earth-1 and one benevolent Kryptonian from Earth-38.

The series is also notable in that it's the first superhero series where the title character is a member of the LGBT community.

On September 22nd, 2017, it was announced that the Ray would be an essential part of the 2017-2018 four-part crossover — Crisis on Earth-X, where he teams up with the heroes of Earth-1 to stop the New Reichsmen from invading their Earth.

Freedom Fighters: The Ray contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Modesty: Phantom Lady. Aside from a bit of cleavage and some of her upper arms, her outfit is very conservative compared to her comic counterpart.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: Zig-zagged. In the pre-Flashpoint universe, Ray Terrill was straight. On the show he's gay. However, it has been stated that the series will be inspired by Grant Morrison's 2014-2015 limited series The Multiversity, which features an alternate universe Ray from Earth-10 who is gay. After the announcement of this series, DC introduced Ray Terrill into the DC Rebirth universe, and he's gay there as well now.
  • Alternate-History Nazi Victory: As shown in the trailer, this is a world where the Nazis won WWII.
  • Backup Twin: Turns out there was an Earth-X version of the Ray. He got mortally wounded by the Reichsmen, then transferred his powers to his Earth-1 counterpart.
  • Bequeathed Power: Ray gets his powers from his Earth-X counterpart, who was mortally wounded by Blitzkrieg and sent to Earth-1 by Cisco-X. Ray-X's body disintegrates during the power transfer.
  • Beware the Superman: Considering many of them work for the New Reichsmen regime, beware indeed.
  • Call-Back: Just like on Earth-38, Overgirl destroys Red Tornado with her heat vision while sporting an expression of blinding rage.
  • Composite Character: This Ray's named for Ray Terrill, the Post-Crisis Ray, and his costume's based on the one comics Ray wore with the Freedom Fighters. However, he also has a lot of elements of various incarnations of Langford "Happy" Terrill, the original Golden Age Ray and his comic counterpart's father: Happy was a reporter, his post-Crisis origin involved a government project to research light, including its uses as a weapon, and as mentioned above, his Earth-10 counterpart is gay.
    • This version of Phantom Lady is named Jennifer Knight like the New 52 version. However, her costume is more similar to the Stormy Knight version albeit more modest and she serves on the Freedom Fighters unlike the comics version of Jennifer.
  • Continuity Cameo: Caitlin and Cisco make an appearance, monitoring Ray's activity.
  • Deadly Dodging: While stopping a gang of bank robbers, two of them have their guns aimed at Ray. He vibrates his body into intangibility, causing the two criminals to shoot one another.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: The creators admit that there are certain inconsistencies between the animated series and the crossover. They expressed their hope that Season 2 might be able to smooth out some of those rough edges, such as introducing Citizen Cold, who is missing from Season 1, despite playing a major role in the crossover. There's also Blitzkrieg and Dark Arrow saluting Overgirl and following her orders without question, even though the crossover establishes that Oliver-X is the Fuhrer and Kara-X's husband. This is explained in Season Two by revealing Black Arrow isn't the Fuhrer, the mysterious "Chancellor" is.
    • If anything, it's more egregious in Season Two, where Ray meets Barry, Oliver, Cisco, Mari, and Curtis (in the show, they won't know Earth X exists at all until the Reichsmen crash Barry and Iris's wedding and they won't meet the Ray until they get stuck on Earth X) and we find that Kara-X outranks Oliver-X and both serve the mysterious "Chancellor" who is the true leader of the reich; this is of course totally incompatible with Oliver-X being the Fuhrer. There's also no sign of Oliver-X and Kara-X being married. Also, nothing in it foreshadows any of the events of Crisis on Earth-X, so it's not very prequel-y. In short, it covers the same subject matter and has quite a few of the same players, so now that it's complete it's a must-see for anyone who enjoyed Crisis on Earth-X... but there's no way it's in direct continuity.
    • Ray says "Eat your heart out, Justice League" at one point, despite no such group existing on Earth-1 in the Arrowverse, at least for quite some time (it was implied early on that Barry Allen would be a founding member at some point in the future, or at least was in the original timeline.)
  • Evil Doppelgänger: Earth-X boasts evil alternate versions of Green Arrow (Dark Arrow) and Supergirl (Overgirl), who are of the New Reichsmen regime.
    • Subverted with Blitzkrieg, who isn't a doppelgänger to Barry Allen, despite being voiced by the same actor.
  • Faceless Goons: The Nazis, of course. Averted with the Reichsmen, who aren't wearing the masks they will wear in the Crisis on Earth-X crossover.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Doll Man is gutted by Overgirl's Eye Beams, and we're shown his exposed chest cavity.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Season Two ends with Blitzkrieg and Black Arrow in the Freedom Fighter's custody, and the heroes leave to take down the Chancellor and free Earth-X from the Reich. We've already seen how it turns out in "Crisis on Earth-X": they fail miserably. Half the Freedom Fighters ends up dead or missing, Red Tornado is reduced to a mindless drone, and Ray ends up in a concentration camp. And worse of all, the New Reichsmen escape custody and Black Arrow manages to take control of the Reich as the Fuhrer.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Ray has some problems with using his new powers precisely.
  • I Choose to Stay: At the end of season 2, Ray decides to stay on Earth-X with the Freedom Fighters.
  • Idiot Ball: Cisco-X is cornered by the Reichsmen. What does he do? Vibe himself to another Earth? No, just try to outrun Blitzkreig.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Similarly to Vixen beforehand, the intention is to cast actors to voice the characters with the possibility of appearing in live-action later on. Averted with the Dark Arrow, who isn't voiced by Stephen Amell (less noticeable).
  • Intangibility: Ray learns that he can vibrate his atoms to make parts of his body (or all of it) temporarily intangible, similar to how a speedster is able to do the same. See Deadly Dodging.
  • Killed Off for Real: The first battle with the Reichsmen results in the deaths of Doll Man, Red Tornado, and Ray-X.
  • Marilyn Maneuver: A woman rescued by the Flash does this as he runs away.
  • Mythology Gag: Ray getting his powers from a "genetic light bomb" nods to Lucien Gates, the New 52 Ray, having read about a reporter who got powers by being exposed to a light bomb.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The Freedom Fighters: The Ray trailer made it look like the Dark Flash would be an Alternate Self of Barry. So it came as a big surprise that the Dark Flash in Crisis on Earth-X was in fact Eobard Thawne from Earth-1 in his "Harrison Wells" guise (played by Tom Cavanagh). Turns out there's a different speedster who was around on Earth-X before Thawne showed up.
  • Oh, Crap!: The arrival of Overgirl, followed by the Dark Arrow and Blitzkrieg.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • The mugger in the park, outright telling a girl that she wouldn't be in this situation if she weren't a lesbian. Fortunately, Laser-Guided Karma is in plan, and he ends up being beaten a humiliated by a gay superhero.
    • Well, you know, Nazis.
  • Prequel: The miniseries is essentially a prequel to the 2017-2018 crossover Crisis on Earth-X.
  • Shipper on Deck: Ray's best friend John (Earth-1's version of Black Condor) is pretty adamant on getting Ray to speak to George.
  • Sleazy Politician: The Mayor of Tulsa (Earth-1) has no qualms about shutting down a department that helps the lower-income citizens. When one of the employees complains, the Mayor simply says that the kind of people they help probably didn't vote for him anyway.
  • Truer to the Text: Among the Freedom Fighters is a version of Red Tornado, who isn't a personality and development-lacking one-off villain like he was in Supergirl.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Both Red Tornado and Doll Man bite it during the first fight with the Reichsmen. Earth-X's version of the Ray only lasts long enough to transfer his powers to the Earth-1 version.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Ray's love interrest doesn't appear in season 2.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: John lays into Ray for practicing his Hand Blasts on a flock of geese. Ray later flies next to the flock and tries to apologize.