Episode 20: Rainbow Raider’s Colorful Origin

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Rainbow Raider

Roy G. Bivolo a.k.a Rainbow Raider first appeared in The Flash vol. 1 #286 June 1980

So I’ve mentioned on other shows, especially the episode where I talked about Wally West, Kid Flash, that I love the Flash. I’ve also had the opportunity to talk to some listeners and they have mentioned that they like that I not only talk about the really popular characters, but I also shed some light on characters that aren’t really known to the greater public. So I thought, let’s do a obscure Flash villain series and blend how much I dig the Flash and kick out some info on some of the Flash’s villains we don’t hear about everyday. Yes, Flash has a killer Rogues gallery, but he’s been around forever, there are hundreds of villains that the Flash has battled other than the usual suspects. And Rainbow Raider definitely falls under the heading, unusual suspect and is obscure as it gets. So let’s get into this villians colorful origin…yep…I went there….I said that. Like to think it will be the last pun, but don’t count on it.

Roy G. Bivolo a.k.a Rainbow Raider first appeared in The Flash vol. 1 #286 June 1980, and was created by writer Cary Bates and artist Don Heck. And if you remember your color theory, or how you learned about what colors are in a rainbow then you recognized what they were going for when they named this character. They were just going for it, no ambiguity there. So if you learned your rainbow colors like I did we were told to remember it using the name, ROY G. BIV as a mnemonic for the colors red, orange, yellow, green, indigo and violet. Then they just slapped “olo” on the end and presto, cheesy character name.

So young Roy always wanted to be an artist, he loved art and painting and dreamed of becoming a painter, of making art his life. The only problem was that Roy was color blind. He would paint amazing scenes, he did have talent, but the colors would be off and clash. When his parents took his art to be looked at by a respected art critic who said his work was qoute, “nothing short of revolting”, crushing the boy’s dreams.

Roy’s dad was crushed that his son could not live out his dream as an artist promised Roy that he would fix him and make cure his color blindness. See, Roy’s dad was a science whiz and optometrist so he got to work trying to cure his boy. But his dad was ill and try as he might, he could not cure color blindness, so he did what he was able, he created a pair of what he called Prisma-Glasses. When he handed them to his son he said he was waiting till they were perfected and they were. His last words were, “Make good use of them son…they will be your compensation…. “And with that he died. When Roy put on the glasses he thought he would finally see the world like everyone else, but he was still color blind. Then, when trying to remove the classes his fingers brushed against several hidden switches, when he hit one of them a rainbow beam shot out of them. In short order Roy realized the rainbow was actually solid light particles he could slide around on like Iceman slides on the ice slide he creates.

Now here’s what I don’t understand. What did his father think he was going to do with these. He’s still color blind, he can’t be an artist like he wants, but he can, he soon discovers ride around on a rainbow and other color related feats. What types of chromatic feats can Roy preform with his new glasses. He can as we’ve learned ride around on a rainbow, shoot different colored beams that when are directed at a person alters their mood. So for example, Roy hits you with a red beam and you are very angry to the point you just start attacking people. Or yellow and you’re scared. Like we’ve discussed, not a lot of nuisance here. He can also coat an enemy with a black beam, coating them with black light that absorbs all light hitting the enemy leaving them looking completely white, like a ghost. So again, what did his dad think he was going to do with these glasses. Not sure, if you have any ideas put them in the post for this show. I guess you could be a therapist, make people happy, but that’s pretty superficial. Maybe a magician? But I think you know where Roy lands, that’s right, super criminal.

Roy decides to become an art thief stealing paintings and priceless works of art. He feels that is he cannot see the paintings as he puts it, “in all their glory” then no one will. What a jerk right. I mean I feel for the guy as a kid, but him as an adult is a pretty selfish jerk. So let’s get to his first run in with the scarlet speedster. The Flash gets a call that a museum is being robbed, he rushes into action only to discover the guards in the lobby in tears, unable to move. You guessed it, Rainbow Raider hit them with blue light and made them sad. Flash and Raider tussle, Roy shoots some beams at Flash but misses, Flash then knocks him down. Raider then does a little sneaky move by shooting a black light beam at Flash. Now Flash doesn’t dodge this one because he thought that Rainbow Raider’s aim was off, but Roy was aiming at a mirror behind Flash. The black beam struck him and rainbow Raider escaped. Flash raced home only to find he was completely white. So the colorist got to slack off a bit on a bunch of panels because Flash was just lineart. I’ve posted a bunch of pics over at the site. So this is actually a neat little trick. Had to miss who the Flash is now right. Look for the line art looking guy. But Barry is a crafty one and he puts on some flesh colored make-up , all over his body actually which was funny. Just do your hands up to your elbows and your head and neck. But Barry is thorough. He then puts yellow peroxide in his hair, gets dressed and is out the door.


In short order Rainbow Raider commits another crime and the Flash springs into action. Another neat touch here is that Barry’s suit is still white, but his face is flesh color from the makeup, again check out the pics over on the episodes page. So Barry is chasing Roy on one of his Rainbow slides and is knocked off by a white light beam. As Barry falls he vibrates through a green car. When he comes out the other side of the car he is all green. Barry realizes he vibrated through the car at the precise wavelength as the color green, thus he is now the emerald speedster, just kidding. He then runs through a yellow bus, a blue car and sso on. Once he looks like he was dipped in a rainbow he vibrates at his normal vibration and reverts to normal color. The Flash then runs around Roy, dodging his beams kicking dirt over him until Roy is incapacitated allowing Flash to remove his goggles. And I have to actually quote the Flash here, he’s says and again I quote, “This is the end of the line for you–not to mention the end of the rainbow.” You have to love Silver and Bronze age books. Simple and fun. If I’ve sounded at all dismissive or that I don’t like this era of villains, nothing can be farther from the truth. I love this stuff. You just need to accept the wackiness of it all.

But the Rainbow Raider never really had much luck in his endeavors. He was always defeated by the Flash or really whoever he went up against. Whether it was the JLA or Booster Gold, Roy always came up short. In the end he was actually killed by another villain. Then, he was brought back in the New 52 with a new name, Chroma, and was promptly killed again. One of the weirdest things I found while researching the character was that after he died, before the New 52, a group color powered baddies formed a bad guy group called The Rainbow Raiders as a tribute to the Rainbow Raider. Ok, that’s strange, but get this, during the blackest night storyline the raiders believed that the Black Lanterns were going to come out on top so they committed mass suicide. But here’s the rub, to come back as a Black Lantern you needed to have an emotional tie to someone on earth. Since they didn’t, they just plain old tied. So weird.

Check out the Raider in this Lego Video