Ray Star joined the military right out of High School. He started out as an MP and eventually became an officer in the Army's Criminal Investigation Command. Ray's job was to investigate criminal wrongdoing on the part of members of the military. He wound up being a little too good at his job. What had started as a routine embezzlement investigation soon became something much bigger as Ray uncovered evidence of massive misappropriation of funds. He was ordered off the case, but his curiosity got the better of him. Ray began following a trail that led up the chain of command to some very high ranking individuals. He had to decide what he was, a soldier or a cop, and he chose cop.
Ray then tried to follow the money trail, to find out where the misappropriated funds were going. This led him to Nevada where he traced the money to some private land out in the desert. When he went out to see what was at the site he was captured by soldiers. He was brought before a man he'd never seen before but who seemed to know everything about him. The man told Ray he was poking his nose where it didn't belong and he'd pay for his curiosity and had some men knock Ray out with drugs.
When Ray awoke he was tied up in a large pit. It was when he saw the scientific instruments near him that he realized where he was - an atomic test site. He heard a plane approaching and knew it contained a nuclear payload. Ray managed to free his legs and began to run, even though he knew there would be no way for him to outrun the blast. Ray closed his eyes against the flash, felt the heat build up on his back... and didn't die. When he opened his eyes he saw that he definitely wasn't anywhere near the test site. In fact, he had somehow wound up in Wisconsin, over 1,000 miles from the test site.
Not only had the blast not killed him, but it had also given Ray super-human powers. Unknown to Ray at the time, back in 1955 his grandfather (a military pilot) was assigned to a task force test firing an atomic bomb in the South Pacific. A protester was attempting to stop the test by hiding on the island where the bomb was to be detonated and Ray's grandfather and the scientist in charge of the test, Dr. Henry Glass, went to the island to find the woman so they could perform the test. They didn't find her and were flying back to the ship when Glass' assistant ordered the bomb to be detonated. He had assumed that the plane and its occupants would be killed and he would take over Dr. Glass' position. In reality both Dr. Glass and Ray's grandfather survived. Dr. Glass would eventually develop super powers and become the super-villain Doctor Radiation. Ray's grandfather on the other hand developed cancer that would kill him in a few years, but the radiation also mutated his genetic structure, a mutation that he would pass on to his daughter and eventually to her son, Ray. It was this mutation that saved Ray from the blast and gave him his powers.
After some experimentation to learn the extent of his powers, Ray decided to begin operating as a super-hero. The people who had left him at the test site would think he was dead, vaporized by the blast, and Ray decided to leave it that way. As the hero Surge, Ray made a few appearances in the northwest and eventually met the new Enforcers of Justice. He helped them in their battles against OMEGA and Death Spider and joined the team.
Ray decided to stay in Superior City and joined with Gabrielle Davis (aka ArcAngel) to form a detective agency where he used the name Ray Chandler. Surge's powers began to grow unstable after an encounter with Futurion had left him stranded in Earth's past. Surge was able to return to the present with the help of the alien traveler now known as Ankh, but in the process was exposed to several unusual forms of energy and had to use his powers as he never had before. Upon his return to the present his powers began to change. Any time he used his powers at a high level or was under any amount of stress Surge would begin to radiate energy uncontrollably. In extreme cases the only way his teammates could stop him was to knock him out.
It was around this time that the alien war machine called Mageddon began approaching Earth. As its psychic influence spread, those with a violent or military mindset, like Surge, began to be affected, becoming more aggressive. Across Earth, minor skirmishes and border wars began to break out. While this was happening, the people who had tried to have Ray killed learned he was still alive and tracked him down. They managed to capture him and learned how he had survived the nuclear explosion. His captors explained to Ray that his earlier investigation had threatened to expose them at a critical time. They claimed to be part of a highly secret military project, code-named Minuteman. Project: Minuteman's objective was to create metahuman soldiers for the military that could survive in hostile environments.
The project's first three "super-soldiers" were about to go into action for the first time. One of the wars that had sprung up recently was a border conflict between two Central American countries one of which, San Sebor, was an ally of America. The U.S. could not act officially in the conflict but was sending covert support. The men behind Project: Minuteman decided that this would be an excellent test environment for their soldiers. San Sebor's enemy, San Marco, had access to sophisticated weaponry and had their own metahuman operative. The director's of the Project made an offer to Surge. If he would lead the Project's men they would have their scientists help him control his powers, and they would fix matters with Ray being AWOL. When the mission was over he would have the option of an honorable discharge from the army, or he could join the Minuteman Project.
Suspicious, but having little alternative, Ray agreed to lead the Project's troops against San Marco. In their first major confrontation, Ray encountered San Marco's resident metahuman: none other than Dr. Henry Glass, aka Dr. Radiation. During the battle, Dr. Glass captured Surge and discovered the origin of Ray's power. This was when Ray learned of the bomb test that had given Dr. Glass his powers and was indirectly responsible for his own. Dr. Glass theorized that the reason Ray's powers were becoming unstable was because his body was still adapting. After the explosion that gave him his powers, Glass had spent months in a coma while his body adapted, Ray had no such adaptation period. Glass believed that another massive exposure to radiation might stabilize Surge's powers, or it would kill him.
Dr. Glass released Ray, who now realized that the Project's directors had no intention of letting him live beyond the San Sebor conflict. Surge was joined by his teammates from the Enforcers and they attempted to stop the war between San Sebor and San Marco. This brought them into conflict with the forces from both nations, as well as the Minuteman soldiers and the U.S. government's public meta-human team, Ameriforce. As the Enforcers, with the assistance of some members of Ameriforce who had realized they were being influenced by Mageddon, brought the situation under control one of the Project directors launched a nuclear weapon at the capital of San Marco. Surge put Dr. Glass' theory to the test, deliberately detonating the weapon before it reached its target and using his powers to contain the blast. Surge succeeded in absorbing almost all the radiation from the blast and the energy had its desired side-effect, his powers appeared to have stabilized.
Upon returning to Superior City, Surge enlisted the aid of the team's friend Dr. Jacob Keller in studying his powers. Dr. Keller discovered that Surge's powers had not only been stabilized by the additional radiation, but had changed as well. Originally, Surge had the power to detect and emit energy across the electromagnetic spectrum. That power was extended to the point that he could now apparently transform himself into electromagnetic energy. A short time later Surge was attacked by the villain Abyss, who managed to disrupt his energy form. As a result of the attack Surge became trapped between dimensions, unable to shift back to his physical form, and began radiating energy uncontrollably. Surge is now in a containment unit at S.T.A.R. Labs in Superior City until Dr. Keller could find a way to stabilize him. Ultimately it was Surge's teammate Renegade who provided the clue to helping him. Renegade remembered a rogue scientist he had once battled who had a machine that accessed a dimension of electromagnetic energy. Dr. Keller was able to use the research this scientist (who had once worked for S.T.A.R. Labs) had done to stabilize the dimensional interface and free Surge. Unfortunately a short time later Surge was driven insane by exposure to a variant of the Joker's trademark poison and has had to be incarcerated until a cure can be found to his condition.
Powers and Abilities:
The nuclear detonation that changed Ray gave him the ability to detect and channel all wavelengths of electromagnetic energy, from low end microwaves through the visible spectrum up to high-energy x-rays and beyond. As Surge, he could detect powerful electromagnetic energy in his vicinity and his eyes could perceive the entire spectrum allowing him to see in the dark, or even through solid objects (like looking at an x-ray). Surge could absorb electromagnetic energy and use it to sustain himself instead of eating and he could channel large amounts of energy in the form of blasts of energy or high-speed flight. Dr. Keller theorized that Surge's energy comes from another dimension, rather than being generated internally by him.
After is powers stabilized after absorbing the energy from the second nuclear blast Surge gained the additional ability to transform himself into pure electromagnetic energy. Dr. Keller believes that when Surge "transforms" into pure E-M energy he is actually transforming himself into a dimensional interface to the source of his power, leaving his "real" body somewhere in-between dimensions while "normal" space only an energy body is present. Dr. Keller also believed that, when in his energy form, Surge would be vulnerable to gravity or magnetic-based attacks, which would affect the dimensional interface, a theory proved accurate by Abyss' attack.