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Co-Host and Historian of: The Lanterncast! Chad Bokelman is a man of many names. Some know him as Chad, some as Cage Narleigh, and some simply as “that documentary guy”. Chad’s long journey from guest to member of the Lanterncast team is long and boring, so don’t ask him. But along the way he originated the fantastic “Larfleeze Report”, culled the archives for the “Best Of” Episode, co-hosts "The LanternCast Presents: Elseworlds" and is the host of "The LanternCast Presents: Green Lantern/Green Arrow", a spin-off podcast showcasing the Denny O'Neil and Neil Adams series from the 1970's. When he’s not recording, Chad dreams of flying in the North-East direction from Texas, learning more about Green Lantern and achieving literary success.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Ragman #6 - Shreds!

Welcome back Tatters! We return once more to the 1991 eight issue Ragman mini-series! This time around we're moving forward with issue number six. Plot and breakdowns by Keith Giffen, script by Robert Loren Fleming, art by Pat Broderick, colors by Anthony Tollin, letters by Albert DeGuzman, and edited by the team of Dooley and Helfer.

We open at Rags 'N' Tatters where we left off last issue with Bette confronting the Rabbi. After proclaiming that Rory is in danger, the Rabbi shakes it off. Bette reveals that she knows Rory is "dat rag guy" and that she seems to be the only one willing to help him. The Rabbi says that she shouldn't because "we who are merely human cannot interfere!" Bette retorts that there is nothing mere about being human and leaves Rags 'N' Tatters. The Rabbi thinks to himself, "She is a good woman, but she has never known the horrors of Treblinka!" as Bette thinks to herself, "He's an okay guy, but he never lived on da streets!"

Cut back to the showdown of the century between the Golem and Rory!

Meanwhile, one of the big bosses henchmen from issue #4 (let's call him Sneezy) is approached by the leader of the Nats. Confused, Sneezy asks whats going on and is introduced by the Nat to the leader of the Mimes who guns him down. The two drag the body off into the snow to search him for an ID. Finding none, the two set off in search of the other henchman "the fat guy". The two gangs have teamed up in order to seek out who has been pitting them against one another.

Elsewhere, Bette stumbles across the wreckage left in the wake of the confrontation between the Golem and the Ragman. Noticing clay on the wreckage, Bette reveals (via internal monologue) that she knew "bud" was falling apart. She senses it's a battle to the death and that, "Rory's bein' tested an' he's failin' bad!"

Then we rejoin the fight between the two Jewish folklore combatants...

...suddenly Ragman leaps from the bay and tugs the Golem down into the inky black water. Both resurface as the Golem realizes that it's up to him to help restore Rory's control of the suit no matter the cost. Rory, or rather the suit itself at this point it seems, sneaks off into the shadows to confront the Golem because "no tactic is too dirty. Survival is everything. May the best monster win."

Back at Rags 'N' Tatters the Rabbi laments to himself that he should have warned Rory about the danger involved in the final test. That "in fighting the Golem, you fight yourself. Perceive him as a monster and the monster will be you!" The Rabbi then cries to himself silently.

As we switch back over to the fight...

And as the Golem's head goes bouncing into the darkness, Rory gains control long enough to realize that he must erase the 'Emet' (the Hebrew word for truth) from the Golem's head to defeat him. This proves to not be as easy as he thinks though as the Golem's decapitated body continues to fight the Ragman. It's at this point Bette stumbles across the fight and collects the head of the Golem into her hands. She speaks softly to his head that the fight is over and that Rory NEEDS the good within the Golem to overcome and fight the Rags off once and for all. Tears in her eyes she erases the word 'Emet' from his face and the Golem collapses into dust and clay, uttering his first and final words, "Betty, I love youuuuu." Rory has finally come to his senses and leaps off into the night as Bette says that he shouldn't forget that someone gave up everything for him tonight because she never will.

And as Rory takes off into the night...

The next morning at Rags 'N' Tatters the Rabbi awakens worried for Rory. Slowly he approaches Rory's room and sees, thankfully, that Rory is alive and asleep. Later that day Rory awakens to night falling. He gives the Rabbi a hard time saying that he has a store to run and he should have woken him up earlier. Bette, seated at the dinner table with the Rabbi states that she ran the store while he slept. When Rory is dressed, he steps out to confront Bette about her knowledge of him being the Ragman and her expressed desire to run Rags 'N' Tatters while Rory does his thing as a hero. Rory is concerned about this being no kind of life as a 'nocturnal creature'. The Rabbi retorts that he's finished his final test and that he is welcome to do as he wants now.

But across town, in the spot where the Golem finally fell...

And with that, issue 6 ends.

Heckuva issue.

As you notice, I probably provided more pages than I normally do. It seemed necessary for this confrontation. So many panels featuring great Broderick Ragman art, I just had to showcase it.

I like that the Rags took Rory over. That, with the Golem, the Rags are a curse and a burden that's extremely hard to contain. As the Golem developed a consciousness and a morality, it gave the power a benevolent presence that Rory needed to be passed on to him to fully become the hero he needs to be.

It was confusing at times whether the Golem was fighting for himself or for the sanity and goodness of Rory himself. It seems the idea is that he was fighting for BOTH. That his sense of morality couldn't deny the soul of the man within the Rags. Made for a kind of, as I said last post, a poetry to this fight. Not a climactic final confrontation between good and evil, but a passing of the torch instead. One that had to be EARNED by Rory.

I'm glad we're nearing the end. Rory being given the full power and control of the suit will make for interesting moral questions when he is confronted by Batman later on.

Now onto the ads!

Ah Wayne's World, how we love thee. And that Monarch ad is like the third or fourth I've come across. Unfortunately for the back issue bins, I still have no interest. On the other hand, 'Panic in the Sky' looks pretty interesting actually. For more information on it, I recommend checking out fellow blogger and podcaster Michael Bailey's post over on the 'Fortress of Baileytude' by CLICKING HERE! Bailey is my go-to Superman expert so I defer to him on matters related to the Man of Steel and the Maiden of Might. Seems like a fun story-line though!

Finally, the LETTERS PAGE!

It seems the question of who is in control of the suit is being picked up on by the readers real time. That's good. I was actually a tad concerned that some people might think RORY is the one doing the killing while in the suit. And the concern over the status of Ragman from hero to killer in this re-imagining brought about a valid concern when it comes to Batman's knowledge of him operating in his city. An inevitable confrontation that we'll see come to a head towards the end of the series.

Well that's all for now! See you guys next time! In the meantime, PLEASE don't forget to comment on these posts as we go! I love getting feedback from you guys. There's not alot of us out there, so the more I hear from you the better!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Ragman #5 - Feet of Clay!

...And we're back Tatters! How about that? More consistency and content with the posting! Must've been that ego boost Pat Broderick gave me recently. Anywho, ON WITH THE REVIEW!

This time around we're talking about issue #5 in the 1991 series. Plots and breakdowns by Keith Giffen, script by Robert Loren Fleming, art by Pat Broderick, colors by Anthony Tollin, letters by Albert DeGuzman and edited by the team of Dooley and Helfer. Ragman #5 was cover dated February of 1992 but actually hit stands on December 10th, 1991. (Thanks to Mikes Amazing World for this info)

We open with Bette (an shockingly non-disappointing fact) taking the Golem out for coffee. Of course the Golem doesn't drink any and off the pair go into the streets and alleys of Gotham. Bette speculates that the reason the Golem didn't drink any coffee is because he doesn't actually have a mouth. They pass by the alley where Rory's father died and Bette excuses herself to say a quick prayer and pay her respects as the Golem senses the Ragman in this place. A quick jump up to the rooftops and...

Meanwhile, Bette is busy expanding on her "no mouth" theory and the Golem senses the Ragman using his powers. The Golem thinks to himself, "The young one is becoming more experienced. And as his power grows, mine ebbs!" Bette notices his weakened demeanor and suggests they visit her friend the doctor. Cut to Ragman taking on a street thug robbing (perhaps more) a woman in a back alleyway. Rory thinks to himself that the last time he confronted an "evil doer" he had to force himself to back away. But this time is different...

Down at the local police precinct, the cops are talking about the latest rash of "demon" reportings in the area. The desk sergeant shrugs it off when "CRASH!" the street thug comes crashing through the window onto his desk as Ragman looks on from a nearby rooftop. Over at the doctors office, the doctor informs Bette that he thinks her friend is dead! He's walking around but he has no pulse or vital signs. Informing the Golem that the doctor is, "a great guy but I think he drinks" off the pair go once more into the snowy streets.

Back at Rags 'n' Tatters, Rory overhears the Rabbi giving the Ragman suit a talking to, telling it that the suit is being tamed by Rory. In the alleys, the Golem is busy contemplating his current situation, "The Rags, I must find them and destroy them! It is the only way to preserve my own life! And that is my mission...preserving life! The Rags are composed of evil souls. So I am justified in destroying them! Even if it feels wrong."

Up in a Gotham high rise, the big boss reads a headline from the Gotham Times "Infant Killed In Deadly Street Gang Crossfire". He thinks to himself that the kid is better off given that he himself grew up in those same streets. But he has other concerns and is off to a billionaires ball for the evening. But little does he know that this same headline is being read across town...

In an alleyway the Golem is taking on a couple of Mime gang street punks quite mercilessly and it takes Bette to calm him down as she calls an ambulance for the kids. At Rags'n' Tatters Rory and the Rabbi are discussing his recent efforts as the Ragman and Rory resolves to disarm the local gangs and doesn't wish to be deterred. Back in the alleys, the Golem is thinking how awful it is that an "old woman must sleep in a cardboard box" when he feels the suit activate. As a finger falls off, signaling the loss of further power, the Golem gets up and walks out of the alley and into the snow, seeking out the Ragman.

As Ragman leaps off into the night, a rag drifts down into the palm of the Golem as he thinks to himself, "A hero. He's killing me! I was almost human before he came. For over forty years I fought the good fight! In just another year or two, I would have been completely human! I would have been able to speak! I will NOT return to clay! One way or another, I'll have the last word!" With a silent farewell to the sleeping Bette, the Golem leaves it all behind. Prepared for the final battle. The Rabbi senses this and thinks, "My two children...what have I done to you?"

And as the two wielders of the same power face one another, the Rabbi silently blames himself until there is a knock at the door. It's Bette warning him that Rory is in trouble. And that ends the issue.

You know, this wasn't as bad as I remembered. LOTS of Ragman in action this issue. The focus on the Golem I had initially thought to be pretty boring. However, on this read through I appreciate it more. Getting this focus on the Golems inner thoughts gives him character and tragedy. If we weren't given this inside glimpse into the Golem we'd have assumed Ragman would be going up against a soulless, mindless hulk. By giving him a soul, you almost feel bad for him. The fight to come becomes not a "win or lose" but a transition. There's some sense of poetry to that inevitability factor.

As for Rory himself, I worry sometimes if his inner dialogue when he's in the Rags is being portrayed as TOO "flourished". As in, it's just different enough that you could be excused for wondering if Rory and the Ragman are two separate entities/identities.

Lastly, I'm starting to think this "big boss" dude is utterly unnecessary. You could have had Rory confront the issue of the rival Gangs (and the Golem) without him. No mysterious benefactor supplying guns. Just a group of rival gangs with access to weapons. But we'll see as we continue how that works out.

Now onto the ADS!!!!

No experience with any of that. Including that "Last Boy Scout" movie. Despite the presence of Bruce Willis, this looks god awful. No desire to see it.

As for the rest, Warlord's origin was recently covered on the Secret Origins podcast hosted by Ryan Daly. Though the ORIGIN from the Secret Origins series was supposedly lackluster, I've heard nothing but rave reviews from fellow comic fans regarding the Warlord series as a whole. If you're curious, I highly recommend you check out episode #16 of Ryans AMAZING podcast.

Now onto the letters page to send us off!

Wow. That last letter from Jon Lydon sure packs a wallop. Regardless, it's good to see so many people so positive about Ragman! And as for that Ragman collection...how about it DC? It's been YEARS now. Surely you've got enough material for an omnibus!

As ever fellow Tatters, thanks for reading the blog. Be sure to COMMENT on these posts and let me know YOUR thoughts! I love hearing from you all! Til next time!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Featured Fan Art - Katie Cook!

On September 11th-13th, 2015 myself and my future brother-in-law Gary went down to Alamo City Comic Con in San Antonio, TX. Avid readers of this blog already know the story if you read the EPIC last post. But there aren't any comments on it, so I've got know idea who read what (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

Anywho. Whilst there I noticed artist extraordinaire Katie Cook was coming to town. As you may or may not be aware, Katie does (among other typically Star Wars or My Little Pony based comic things) the amazeballs webcomic known the world over as GRONK! Well I hadn't seen Katie since the Comic Geek Speak Supershow in 2011 so I decided I at LEAST had to get a mini-painting and an updated picture with her (she's one of my few CGS community touchstones at Cons).

Being the big Ragman fan I am (just look around, duh) I asked for the main man himself! (No not Lobo). So here we go, mini-Ragman by Katie Cook!

So the story behind the quote? Well, as true Ragman fans know, the suit allows Rory to access the abilities and memories of the souls trapped within his suit. IE: If someone is trapped under a car and it takes about 12 people to lift a car off the ground, Rory can call on the strength of 12 souls trapped in the suit and add it to his own strength in order to lift the car. 

Well I'm explaining all of this to Gary as he'd never heard of Ragman (FOR SHAME!) right there in front of Katie. Katie, (I'm assuming) hears all of this (though I believe I used a sniper example at the time) and, being Katie, added the little blurb up top. Thus was born mini-Ragman with a twist!

This brings my Katie Cook mini-painting collection up to a sad-but-better-than-nothing count of THREE including my Deadman and Firestorm.

Next up, I'm thinking Phantom Stranger...and given how often I see Katie I guess I'll get that from you in 2019!

Oh, and updated picture for posterity (click to enlarge)! Now, while cutesy art is on your mind, GO READ GRONK and swing over to Barnes & Noble and pick up her ever popular 'F YOU BOX' book!

(CGS Supershow 2011)

(Alamo City Comic Con 2015)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

An Exclusive Interview with Pat Broderick!

This past weekend (September 11th - 13th) my future brother-in-law (Gary) and I headed down to Alamo City Comic Con in San Antonio, TX. We were granted two press passes so I could interview creators for the LanternCast and Gary could snap pictures of the event. While there, I had an opportunity to speak with artist Pat Broderick regarding his work on Green Lantern. Since I had his ear, he was gracious enough to spend some time with me talking about Ragman for this very blog! And, surprise surprise, Pat knew of my blog and has even read it from time to time! Let me tell you, that made me feel pretty awesome. So without further adeu, here follows the transcribed interview from Alamo City Comic Con 2015! Enjoy!

When Ragman was created by Kubert and Kanigher, he had a very subtle supernatural element to him. Mostly in the way that the electrical shock transferred his abilities to him, supposedly. But when you came on, it was post Crisis, and they had a whole new bent to it. What was it like throwing in this much more direct supernatural element?

Well it was Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming. But what I liked about it was how they tied it into the Judaic folklore, to the Golem, and to the Judaic mysticism. The ability of the rags to capture the souls of the villains. I thought that was a very unique twist to the character. And we were exploring the powers of the suit which Keith was revealing further and further into the series you know? So on my part, as an artist to draw Ragman, I've always been an incredible Joe Kubert fan and I love his war stuff. But when he got out of his war stuff and did things like the Viking Prince, Hawkman, Ragman, and Tarzan it was refreshing to see something that wasn't World War II. I loved Kubert's work and his design was incredible, it was always dead on. So I was a huge fan of Ragman when it came out because I was just a boy. I wasn't in the industry at the time. And the development of it with Rory and the characters that Joe and Kanigher had developed, that Keith and Robert had brought over. It brought a freshness to them. The Batman one where Batman became aware of Ragman and what he was doing, I thought that was a wonderful tie-in to the DC Universe. And it was a situation where I was brought on to work with Keith Giffens style which was why it was in the nine panel format...not my personal favorite selection.

Mine either and I know you've read the blog so you know it's not.

You know, it's a grind when one has to do nine panels everyday, everyday, everyday. But I respect Giffens work. I've read so much of his stuff where he did the nine panel layout and enjoyed it. But for me and my form of storytelling I like to pace things in that, when you hit the peak of say scene two, you expand that peak for the dramatic effect of it. Much the way Kirby structured his books in the early years. The chapter one, chapter two, chapter three and then a little prologue which led into the next story. It seems to me that all writing is based off of theatrical screenplay/Shakespearean format. The introductions, part one, part two and then a conclusion which works well in ANY format. But in the beginning it was a wonderful opportunity to work on the character that connected me back to my childhood. It's like an elixir, it's like a drug when you can feel like a kid again especially when you're 62 years old.

You brought up Kubert's War stuff. Rory was a Vietnam veteran so there are some Vietnam flashbacks. But it's also tied into the tale of the Golem so there’s some World War II stuff. And I remember a very specific page featuring a full page splash of a concentration camp. What what it like to draw, not just a character you grew up with, but really emotionally intense scenes?

Well there was one splash where the Jewish prisoners are behind the barbed wire and I centered on the gaunt, lost look on their faces. I was trying to capture the emotion of what they had to feel at the time. The separation, the barbed wire, the boot and the dog prints in the snow from the German guards and their dogs. I'm a big history fan, I love history so I enjoyed that part of it. Some of the splash pages like the montage page of the Golem battling everything. I'll tell you a little secret on that page. I had no layout, the plot was just, "multiple scenes. we want the Golem doing five different things and combine them into a montage". I turned in nine versions of that page to them.

Wow. Speaking of multiple versions, I've heard tell that artists used to charge more for certain characters such as Jack of Hearts. I know your art style has a lot of lines and details, but was Ragman a little more of a challenge because of the amount of work you had to put into his suit in every panel?

It was far easier than it would have been to do Jack of Hearts. (laughs) I only had to be concerned about cloth patterns. It had the Kubert/Ditko feel, the Spider-Man style mask, the almost magically flowing cape, and I was able to do a lot with that.

Was making the cape it's own almost living element your choice?

No, everything I drew I drew over Giffens layouts. Because Keith would lay a story out as his form of writing. So he had introduced the cape aspect of it and I picked up on what he was doing and I basically ran with that game.

Now, the evolution of Rory from unwilling accomplice in his fathers legacy to becoming a bonafide hero and being protected by the inhabitants of that Gotham slum. You drew a lot of Ragman and developed a lot of that. But there had to be a different side to developing Rory himself. What was that like?

Remember when the Rabbi entered the story? Rory’s development kinda took off from that point. The previous issues were when the mob took over the pawn shop, killed his father, sliced him to ribbons...that was sort of a prologue. The introduction of the suit, the realization of the crime and the harm and the loss that he felt, placing the little stone on his fathers grave as the Jewish tradition goes, and what he was going to be doing from that point on. Because he never expected to be doing that. He never expected to become the Ragman. He knew that the pawnshop was a losing financial proposition for him because he kept helping out all of the people in the neighborhood when they'd bring this junk jewelry but he knew them and felt for them. They'd say, "These are family heirlooms" and he'd know they're costume jewelry but he'd give them $50 for it or $100 for it.

And say, “I'll hold on to it for you.”

Right. And that compared to the thugs coming in and bringing in broken gold chains and broken watches which clearly identified it as stolen merchandise and then throw them out.

I don't know if you remember this when you were reading the Ragman comics that Joe was doing, and excuse my language, but Bette Berg was kind of a bitch to Rory. You just read her dialogue and knew she wasn't a legitimate love interest because she was such a bitch. It was almost like the Crisis Gods in the DC Universe, "Well she's awful. Let's make her homeless." Now Bette in your series was the biggest complete character 180 from what she once was.

It was a surprise for me too but I liked the way they developed her. It left open that there was an in-between story where she fell from her position to become a person of the streets and the alleys. Like you said, her total personality change where she was a bit of a bitch in the first incarnation now she felt a lot of empathy for other people in the alley and other people that had fallen on hard times. I'm assuming since she had experienced it herself it was a wake-up call for her perhaps in how she had treated other people and how shes now in the position where people are treating her with the same disdain.

You said you read Ragman as a child. One of the things I love so much about Ragman, and especially those Kubert issues, is the heart. Rory doesn't understand why his father does what he does in the pawn shop but he respects it and he does it himself anyways. There's a lot of heart in that. Like the way he protects that deaf and blind kid. Is that something that also resonated with you as you read those comics? Because Ragman to other people is such an obscure character, but is that what drew you in?

Yeah. It was a total change of plot structure and characterization. DC started to experiment at that time with Steve Ditko's Hawk and Dove, and a few other series that were going into more human type stories. That, to me, was showing a nice direction to go into the human tragedy instead of just superheroes and super-villains and eventually beating the super-villains and all is well. Which seemed to be the basic structure of the story. Compared to the Marvel structure of the stories where they had heroes and legends but they all had major problems in their lives and it made it more humanistic and you could relate to it more. Especially like Peter Parker going to high school and being bullied by Flash and knowing he could mop up the floor with him but, first of all, Peter wouldn't do that even with his powers because he wouldn't do that before he had his powers. His concern and admiration for Aunt May was the same as Rory's concern and admiration for his father. He'd say, "Dad why are you paying money out for this junk jewelry? You're giving the business away. I don't understand." And his father would reply, "Rory this is our neighborhood and these are our people and they've fallen on hard times" Rory never went through Auschwitz. His father was relating to those hard times. And there were still hard times. The Jewish community was still suffering prejudice towards them and I liked the fact that they were tackling those issues because they were prevalent then and they're extremely prevalent today. It makes that storyline timeless.

You know I'm a big Green Lantern fan and that's also one of the things I love about the Green Lantern/Green Arrow series also. The human issues. I understand with DC and the industries history why series like Ragman and the first Firestorm got canceled. But those series, more than those other series that remained after the DC implosion, those stories wore more worthy of being kept around rather than those that didn't have as much heart.

Some things survived the implosion. I mean, clearly it was all a financial decision because of the market at the time and the expansion and the expected return on sales vs what the reality was. For the administration they sometimes make decisions based on the projections for what they think should be and if it doesn't even hit that then it's not worth pursuing. Instead of considering building up the market because Ragman had a core following. I felt in the first incarnation it could have gone much further. In the second incarnation it certainly could have gone much further but, I'll tell you the honest truth, the sales didn't project it. The sales on the series started out very high but then with each issue would drop substantially. Which led to a telephone meeting where they decided that they wanted to do Ragman on a monthly basis but the decision was based off the sales of the first issue. I had to point out to Kevin Dooley that the sales had dropped faster than a comet striking the earth and they had lost 20,000 each month. By the time we get to the 8th issue you might only be selling 20,000 copies. You're basing a decision based on how strong it was at the beginning yet you weren't willing to change the format.

Do you think the sales were dropping because of the nine panel layout or the change to Ragman or they just didn't like the direction? Did you have any idea what it was?

I don't know. At the time it was coming out so many things are happening in the industry that, in my personal opinion, it was pulling a lot of attention towards elsewhere. Jim Lee's stellar success on X-Men, and the things that Marvel was doing based off of that. In my opinion, in this industry there’s a huge fan-base following, but it shifts to where the interest is. At the time I felt it was controlled more by the potential collectibility. Where in the beginning issues number one and two sold really high because they were banking on the value of those issues. But three, four and five...by four that's where, historically, your sales level out and once you hit that you know what you're going to do every month. But the other factors involved with the projected return on investment I think it created a whirlwind of massive buying. If they renumber any series back to issue number one it pulls the attention from all the market because they all think, "Well it's a number one. It's going to be worth a lot more." And these are decisions that are controlled by vice presidents of marketing. They're not very creative.

With the way the big two are doing things these days, let's just say I agree with you. One last question. There were a lot of quiet moments in the series. No more so than towards the end when Ragman faces off against Batman and there weren't a whole lot of words exchanged. I know you've been in the industry awhile, but what are those quiet moment like for you as an artist, getting to showcase YOUR storytelling talents?

A good comic is derived from a great story but the pictures have to be able to tell the story by themselves. For me, that particular section, you'll recall I did Batman previously. I did Detective, I did Batman Annual, I did Batman Year Three so I was very familiar with the Batman character and very comfortable with the Batman character. The standoff and the face-down between the two, Keith and Robert did not supply any dialogue for it and I knew that they wanted the emotion to carry and I was able to fill the order for them.

Well I wanted to thank you personally for what you've done with Ragman and all the other characters I love that you've been involved with such as Firestorm and Green Lantern. I definitely wanted to let you know, as one Ragman fan to another since there's not a lot of us out there, I appreciate your work and all the efforts you threw into it. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.

It was a pleasure. Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you about it.

Is there anything you'd like to promote? How can people get in touch with you?

I have a website www.patbroderickart.com and you can contact me through there. I'm on Facebook and I'm accepting friend requests every day so you can find me there. I also get a lot of commission work through Facebook. I also have a page up on www.comicartfans.com but that seems to have slowed down for a lot of people but I still have a page there. People are welcome to contact me through any of those three venues.

And that, as they say, is that! I highly recommend you check out Pat's work! Thanks to both Pat and his wife for being so accommodating over the weekend and to Alamo City Comic Con for letting us attend. Keep an eye on the LanternCast twitter and Facebook for pictures from the event and the LanternCast main page for more coverage in an upcoming special episode!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Ragman #4 - Above the Fray!

Welcome back beloved Tatters! This time around we're talking, obviously, about 'Ragman' #4 with plots and breakdowns by Keith Giffen, scripts by Robert Loren Fleming, art by Pat Broderick, colors by Anthony Tollin, letters by Albert De Guzman, and edited by the team of Dolley & Helfer.

We open as we normally do in this series, with Ragman standing in a dark and snowy alley in Gotham. Rags stands over a low level dealer who is begging for his life, offering to cut Ragman in on the cut of his "small fortune".

"I find myself surrounded by sin." Such a simple line but oh how I LOVE it for Ragman. Anywho, moving on...

Back at 'Rags N Tatters', the Rabbi is worrying about Rory's efforts as Ragman this evening over a cup of coffee (tea?). Rory comes in and is asked how the night went. Evidently not killing (or absorbing the soul of) the man he confronted in the alley was a test put forth by the Rabbi to test Rory's skill as the Ragman. A test to see how well, one can only assume, Rory can resist the call of the suit.

Back in a Gotham high-rise, the big boss-man behind all the latest goings ons talks with his henchmen about the trouble that Rory (not known as Ragman at this point) has been giving them. Things now cleared up, the boss believes Rory is now a known element and thus has lost his surprise factor. He then asks, "Who's in a position to take over that neighborhood?" His thugs respond that some gangs have risen up to fill the power vacuum...

Back at 'Rags N Tatters', the Rabbi is continually pestering Rory about his efforts as the Ragman (even while Rory showers, which drives him nuts). Rory states that he needs time to process everything he's experienced. The Rabbi goes to sleep and Rory opens up the shop for the day. His first customer? A member of the Shamrocks, a local gang. The Shamrock asks Rory to buy some gold and jewels off him and asks what his best price is. Rory responds by telling him to take a hike or he'll call the cops as he's not a fence for stolen goods.

Down at the doctors clinic, Bette is informed that a young man she brought in the night before has passed away...

Meanwhile, the henchmen are setting about their task of setting up the Nats and the Mimes for a fall by luring them both to the same place later that evening for a weapons drop. In the midst of all of this, the Rabbi visits the grave of Rory's father to tell him he's looking out for Rory but he's afraid...to lose another.

Back at 'Rags N Tatters', Rory and the Rabbi are arguing about Rory going out as Ragman as Rory says it's snowing. Rory relents and says he'll go change, but the Rabbi says not to put on the suit, but to merely call it and it will come to him...

...and Bette has now seen Ragman for the first time. A shadowy wraith flying over the rooftops of Gotham.

Now, at a local construction site, the Nats and the Mimes ambush one another in a brutal flash of gunfire. Members on both sides are going down. The death is viewed from above by Ragman as he thinks to himself, "The utter banality of what I am witnessing is the very essence of evil. Blind hatred. In the absence of reason, chaos prevails..."

And with that, Ragman stands revealed not just to a scant few, but to the remaining members of two entire gangs.

Nats and Mimes alike being firing into the form of Ragman, but the bullets do nothing to harm the man in Rags before them. With the option of killing them put out of his mind, Rory opts for the one final "instinct" left for him to follow and he leaps atop a nearby crane...from the ground.

Back at 'Rags N Tatters' again, the Rabbi senses Rory's personal triumph and silently congratulates him for passing this test...a test that Rory's father...failed...

Back at big boss-man headquarters (come ON let's give him a name already!) the henchmen inform the boss of the arrival of the Ragman. Fully informed once again the boss orders another edict, "Find out what it is, where it operates from, and what it's objectives are! Then wipe it out!"

Finally, back in the alleys of Gotham...

...and we end with Rory finally getting some much needed sleep, only interrupted briefly to tell the Rabbi to buzz off, with the Rabbi muttering dejectedly into the night.

And that's that!

Whew, ok. So, as I've said before, the 9 panel layout of this series has always been a sore point with me. But Brodericks art really shines in this issue, especially with the title character. Despite having a face devoid of distinguishing features, Pat manages to put true expression on the "face" of Ragman with very few adjustments. And the splash page where Ragman drops in on the middle of the fight was gorgeous (though the colorization of the eyes bothers me a bit in this otherwise flawless panel).

Story-wise I DO feel as if the plot is dragging just a TAD slower than I'd like. I agree that the drama and suspense is being built up, but I'd rather see more action, less set-up. But hey, I know where this is going so I suppose these types of critiques aren't valid when the issue has been out for years and you're just anxious to get to the parts you REALLY loved.

Now onto the ADS!!!!!!

Hmm, never read Batman/Predator. Not much of a Predator guy though so I suppose it's no big loss. Did any of these 90's Alien, Predator, etc. crossovers ever actually become crowning moments in comics? Let me know in the comments below.

As for the games, I've never played any of them, though the 'Return of the Joker' one looks like fun...

Now, lastly, THE LETTERS COLUMN!!!!

As eluded to by one of the fans, it seems I'm not the only one with a distaste for the 9 panel layout. But again, such a minor quibble as it's not a fault of the artist, but of the times. The distaste for Pat Broderick as an artist mentioned by one of the fans caught me off guard though. I mean, Broderick isn't my NUMBER ONE favorite artist and he was far from flawless, but I'd never refer to it as abysmal. But hey, art is subjective I suppose. For my money, Broderick is an acquired taste that is only helped by my penchant for characters like Firestorm, Green Lantern and (of course) Ragman.

But that's it for this issue folks! See you back soon for issue #5!!! In the meantime, be CERTAIN to leave a comment with YOUR thoughts on the issue, the series, the character as a whole and more BELOW!!!