What Were They Thinking? – Rainbow Raider

Recently Geoff Johns lets his feeling about the Rainbow Raider come out, basically saying he will never give the character a chance. Well, it almost sounds to me like Mr. Johns is saying, "What were they thinking?"

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The Rainbow Raider is an interesting character in that he is a product of his day. He was created by Cary Bates and Don Heck as a foil for Superboy in issue #84 1960. So even though he is most closely linked to the Scarlet Speedster, he was not originally meant to be part of the Rogues. Like another character I already highlighted, Doctor Spectro, Rainbow Raiders powers were partly based on the idea that colors effect moods and that he could control people by what color he shined on them. Some how this gave him the ability to make Superboy steal for him. He could also make rainbow paths he could slide on… though he had no discernible means of motion that would explain how he could slide up or with any speed faster than Tom Cruise in Risky Business.

His background is almost as interesting. If you take the colors of the rainbow and add "olo" to the end, you get his real name Roy G. Bivolo. Fans should have expected something was funny about his name as you don't often get middle initials for villains. Its not Lex F Luther right? But Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet should be very close to Geoff Johns heart at this point, so what does he have against the guy?

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As for why he became a bad guy… he was color blind and wanted to be an artist. For most people that would be a reason to go to therapy, not put on a garish costume and fly across the sky like Rainbow Brite. But Roy's father was an optometrist and expert in optic technology and promised he'd cure his son. I'm not sure what optic technology was in 1960, but Dr. Bivolo was the guy to go to for prisms and eye-exams. But sadly, Doc B failed and as Roy sat beside his father's death bed he was given a pair of goggles that allowed him to create beams of solid light that displayed the color spectrum.

Now Roy was an angry youth, angry at the world for robbing him of the chance to be a great artist and maybe a little angry at his dad for not following though on his promise to fix Roy's vision. Instead of traveling out to California and getting a job at the Griffith Park Observatory, he would have made a fun addition to the laser shows, Roy decided to steal art from the world. If no one would recognize his genius then he'd take away all the other masterpieces.

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It would have been one thing if Roy was just a angry man striking out at the world. But they put him in a costume, gave him the name Rainbow Raider and had him take on superheroes. After the first time of getting his butt kicked by the Boy of Steele, you'd think he would have gone home and hung up his tights of many colors and called it a day. But he went on to take on the Flash, Green Lantern, Batman and the Justice League. He was even taken out of one fight by Zauriel after a single punch.

Even Roy's end was sort of sad in of itself. He was killed by another villain named Blacksmith after the Trickster stole Roy's magic candle in Underworld Unleashed. But this wasn't quite the end of the angry artist as he got reanimated as a Black Lantern in Blackest Night… but he was once again taken out quickly, this time by Captain Cold who just froze him.

RR1To add insult to injury, a group of color themed villains took the team name of Rainbow Raiders in honor of the fallen villain. During Blackest Night they committed suicide in hopes of being chosen a Black Lantern. None of them were.

After all of that, Mr. Johns… I see what you are talking about.

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.

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