About Me

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I started reading comics regularly after 'Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns'. Since then, I've become a co-host on 'The LanternCast' (a podcast dedicated to Green Lantern that's been on the air since 2008), started a new podcast covering the late 1980's DC series Action Comics Weekly (appropriately titled The Action Comics Weekly Podcast), and have been the curator of THE blog on the internet dedicated to the character of Ragman, created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert published by DC Comics starting in 1976 and currently appearing on The CW show 'Arrow' as portrayed by actor Joe Dinicol. I'm an avid fan of comics, classic rock, and speaking my mind. Welcome!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Ragman #7 - The Summit!

Welcome back Tatters to another REVIEW post! That's right! I've caught the bug yet again and I just HAD to come back with the next review! This time around we're talking Ragman #7 from the 1991 series, the penultimate issue of the series. Just one more issue to go and we wrap coverage of the first Ragman series Post-Crisis.

Where've I been? Well, if you've been keeping up, you know I've been revealing information as we go about Ragman as he appears in Season 5 of The CW series 'Arrow' and comparing it to the comics. Thus far they're pretty darn similar! So I can't wait to learn more as the season progresses! As for why I haven't been posting other reviews, well, I do The LanternCast AND my new show The Action Comics Weekly Podcast. Both of which are very dear to me. I encourage you to check them out! But that's enough personal project posturing! You stopped in for some Ragman content and I'm here to give it to you!

Ragman #7 features plots and breakdowns by Keith Giffen, script by Robert Loren Fleming, art by Pat Broderick and Romeo Tanghal, colors by Anthony Tollin, lettered by Albert DeGuzman, and edited by Kevin Dooley and Andrew Helfer!

We open in the high rise office of our "big boss" from the past several issues as he learns his operatives in the streets are either dead or unaccounted for. As he hangs up the phone, he looks outside his window to the streets below, thinking to himself that he cannot be clean until he wipes out his past.

Meanwhile, back at Rags N' Tatters, Rory is busy asking Betty if she can handle running a store front as she will be in charge of the shop for awhile. She answer in the affirmative as the Rabbi attempts to trouble Rory for one final word of advice. Rory declines, sarcastically stating that he's, "still digesting the seven other final words of advice you gave me" before slamming the door on his way out. The Rabbi asks Betty if there's anything he can do to help and Betty asks him if he can cook. He says he can't and her response is that she hopes he likes SPAM.

Elsewhere in the city, at one of the hideouts for the Nats, the combined members of the Nats and the Mimes gangs beats information out of one of the "big bosses" operatives. They take his wallet and learn that he works for Spratt Industries. It's then revealed that billionaire Howard Spratt (our "big boss") has been the root cause of all of the trouble the gangs have encountered over the past several issues. They resolve to take the fight directly to Spratt...by attacking him in his skyscraper!

Back over at Rags N' Tatters, Betty chases away a thief while the Rabbi prepares dinner, restating that he's not much of a cook but hey, "as the saying goes, beggars cannot be choosers!" To which Betty retorts with a silent, angry, sidelong look. But across town, over at the offices that house Spratt Industries...


...and Ragman strolls in. 

Bodies already litter the floor of the building, riddled with bullets. The gangs have already arrived. Ragman runs into two of the gang members as they shoot bullets into him. They thing they've killed him, and he deserves it too because, in their mind, Ragman works for Spratt. But their glee at this victory is short lived as Ragman gets back up and knocks one of the men out. The other cowers in front of Ragman, saying he better get back upstairs to his "boss" Spratt as the rest of the gang is up there dealing with him. Ragman doesn't move, which prompts the Mime to ask, "Don't you have any feelings?" Ragman responds by tossing him through the front doors and into the snow before heading towards the elevators. But Rags hesitates for a moment...


The gangs upstairs are already in Spratts office, threatening him, when Spratt reveals he grew up where they're from. It doesn't matter though as he's quickly shot through the head right as the fire alarm sounds. They head out of Spratts office and are about to head towards the stairs as the elevators don't operate in the event of a fire when suddenly *ding* and the elevators opens revealing Ragman. The gang unloads their bullets into him and it is quickly shown to them that the bullets passed straight through him. Ragman then goes to work, quickly dispatching the gangs. Their leader notices that Ragman is keeping them from the stairwell, and guesses, correctly, that it's because there are people in the stairwell he can use as hostages. But he doesn't make it to open the door as Ragman hurls him by the head into the door and he slumps bloodied to the floor. The rest of the gang promptly gives up...



Back over at Rags N' Tatters Betty is looking for the Rabbi only to find that he's left and taken all of his things without a word or a note. 

Back at Spratt Industries, the Gotham PD have arrived to round up the gangs. One of the officers in charge (whom I assume is at least a Detective given his lack of police blues) comments that something must've softened the gang up because they're active very docile. We see the Rabbi just outside the police tape watching the scene before turning to walk off into the night...


Back upstairs in Spratts penthouse office, Ragman searches desperately for something. Finally he tosses aside Spratts tabletop model of the city to reveal a safe, which he rips off it's hinges...






Back at Rags N' Tatters, Betty looks at a picture of Gerry Regan and wonders aloud, what if? What if she had gotten her act together before he died? What could've been? It's silly to have regrets, but it sure would've been nice...

And that does it for this issue!

Overall, I liked it. It may feel a tad anticlimactic if you've been following the series thus far, but the seeming lack of payoff in terms of Ragman facing down Spratt actually serves the story. Ragman doesn't get his hands on Spratt and we see Rory shine through. His sense of morality and justice. How he REALLY handles the situation. And it's a payoff I find just as worthwhile. And, as far as cliffhangers go, it doesn't get much better than, "Uh oh...Batman is PISSED..." The art also looks great. Perspective seems off in places, especially during the indoors scenes in Spratt Industries, but that's really a minor nitpick.

Now, ONTO THE ADS!








Ahhhh Green Lantern Mosaic. Such an INSANITY FILLED WEB you weave. BTW, if you're curious if the LanternCast ever got around to Mosaic, we DID! Well, when I say we, I mean Dan Kutzke did several years back. But those episodes are still available for you to listen to just by CLICKING RIGHT HERE!!

Now for the letters page!


Looks like there's LOTS of praise for Ragman! I can't blame them though as the feedback here comes from readers of issue number 3, which is a phenomenal issue. Interesting so many people take issue with the portrayal of Judaism in Ragmans history as it relates to WWII. I saw very clearly that the story was from a very specific viewpoint, why criticize it for not showcasing the entire history of WWII?

Well, that's it for this time readers! Be sure to leave a comment RIGHT HERE on the blog post itself so I know you're out there reading AND what you're thinking! I'd love to hear back from you! Till next time Tatters!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ragman on 'Arrow', Season 5 Episode 4 'Penance': A Comprehensive Review!

On October 26th, 2016 The CW Network aired the fourth episode of the shows fifth season in an episode titled 'Penance'. The episode largely focused on Oliver and Lyla breaking Diggle out of a military prison. The other plot focused on the new team (consisting of Mister Terrific, Artemis, and Wild Dog) going up against Tobias Church and his schemes. Ragman rejoins the team (after quitting in the beginning of the episode) for the fight and Wild Dog is captured.

That's about as far as I'm going into general episode specifics, you're on a Ragman blog. You know already what my focus will be! So first off, why did I not post a review/recap for episode 3? Well, because we learned nothing about Rory/Ragman in that episode. Well, not true, we got ONE bit of information. Rory confirmed, in episode using his dialogue, that his "hometown" was Havenrock. I'm personally still of the opinion that he COULD be from Gotham (at least born there) but, at this point, I kind of doubt it. So until they give us information to the contrary, let's just stick with what we've been told. Rory is, in fact, from Havenrock.

As for THIS episode, what happened that warranted another post to the blog?

At the end of episode 3, Felicity comes clean to Rory about her involvement in the destruction of Havenrock. Rory, shocked, walks off without a word. This episode we see Rory during a conversation with Oliver wherein he quits the team. Being reminded daily of all the people he lost when he looks at Felicity, is just too much for Rory. Later in the episode, when it becomes evident how much they need Rory/Ragman, Felicity pays a visit to Rory. We see him welding sculptures out of junk (which Felicity remarks is amazing though we don't ourselves see the full artwork). Rory responds to her by saying, "When you spend enough time with other peoples cast offs you find ways to make something useful out of them. My father always used to say that. He owned a pawn shop..."

There you have it. Rorys father ran a pawn shop. Why is this significant? Well, in the comics, Rory's father ran a junk shop known as...."Rags N Tatters". Of course this shop was located in Gotham, so the presence of a junk shop in a particularly impoverished and ghettoized section of a city like Gotham has an ENTIRELY different feel than a junk shop in a town like Havenrock...


...but credit where credit is due! Rory's father ran a pawn shop! And that's just one more thing our live action Ragman has in common with his comic panel counterpart!

But we're not done yet! Right after Rory mentions his father ran a pawn shop, Felicity says the exact road the pawn shop was located on. She goes into some expositionary dialogue wherein she reveals her personal research into Rory's history. "Your father was a Gulf War veteran. 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines. But that's not what made him a hero was it? He wore your rags. Like his father before him, whose name was also Rory. That's a big legacy to live up to."

And boom. We have some more comic book similarities to play with. The first is the Regan family's history with military service. Now, to my remembrance, Rory was the one with a military service record. In both Pre and Post Crisis continuity, Rory was a veteran of Vietnam. His father was active as the Ragman during World War II in the Warsaw ghetto. To my knowledge, it's unclear if Gerry (Rory's fathers name, at least in the comics) was an actual serviceman himself. I honestly wouldn't put it past him and if the comics of the future say he was in active service, I wouldn't fight it. There's not enough there to say he WASN'T. Obviously given Rory's age in this Arrowverse, the timing of what conflict Rory's father served in has to be realistic time wise. But it still makes the Regan family a family obsessed with doing the right thing at all costs. And the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines have a long history with both World War II and Vietnam, so there's tenuous ties there as well.


As for the fact that Rory's father and his grandfather wore the Ragman suit. This is RIGHT in line with the comics. Ragman is a mantle passed down over the generations and given that things of such importance usually stay within a family, it's not surprising that we'd have the added information that Rory's grandfather also wore the rags. In the comics, we know FOR SURE that Rory's father wore them during World War II and the events of the Warsaw ghetto. So chalk some more up for comic accuracy!

We also get a few...demonstrations of the Ragman suits abilities. The first is when Rory uses the suit to protect officers from an explosion meant to breach a wall...


And the second is when Rory uses the suit to cover team Arrow as Wild Dog fires back at the Tobias Church crew. I'm ASSUMING here that the tendrils from Ragmans suit are blocking bullets...


Again, I'm loving everything so far that we've learned about the live action version of Rory. The suit looks great for a television budget and the level of comic accuracy is, thus far, pretty concise. The only complaint that remains for me is Rory's voice when he's in the suit. 

We're now three episodes into the appearances of Ragman, and there are times when Rory's voice is damn near unintelligible. There's a moment before Rory sets off the charge that blows the wall open where he tells the D.A. to trust him. He then says two other words (or whatever) before the wall blows. I've watched that scene at least ten times now. I still have zero idea what he says after he says, "Trust me."

But otherwise the show is great! Thanks for reading! PLEASE don't forget to leave a comment here directly on this post! It's the only way I know you're out there reading!

PS: TODAY is the 4th anniversary of The Suit of Souls blog! Wow! I can't believe this things been around THAT long! Just look where we are. We've gone from ZERO comics featuring the character, to a live action recurring role in a hit network show in prime time! WHAT?! One can only hope Rags will be popping up in comics again soon! His most recent appearance was in the New 52 series 'Batwoman' before it ended. Hopefully we'll see a Ragman mini-series and an Arrow Ragman action figure (at LEAST) before all is said and done!


Friday, October 14, 2016

Ragman on 'Arrow', Season 5 Episode 2 'The Recruits': A Comprehensive Review!

On October 12th, 2016 the CW Network aired the second episode of 'Arrow', now in it's fifth season. The episode, entitled 'The Recruits', featured the debut of Ragman to the general public. Prior to this episode, Ragman had never appeared in multimedia outside of comic books. No film, television, animation, or video game platform appearances. But 40 years, 4 months, and 29 days since Ragmans first appearance hit stands on May 13th, 1976 (thanks Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics) DC's Tatterdemalion of Justice appeared in live action.

The episode, largely focused on the building of Green Arrow's new team (consisting of Wild Dog, Mister Terrific, and what I can only assume will be the new Black canary) was well received on Twitter (at least from the #Ragman tweets I saw) and various other social media platforms.

But let's scrap the official sound of this post and get into the specifics shall we? What did I think of it? How is this Ragman, so far, different from the Ragman of the comic books? How is he the same? And will I EVER get back to semi-regular posting on this blog?

Let me tackle those one by one:

1) What did I think of it?

Overall? I liked it. Ragmans suit translated well to live action, though I believe the mask itself could be a little more...form fitting. His suit had almost Spawn-like tendrils that reached out and ensnared anyone in his vicinity. Though it's unclear exactly what effect they have on those they made contact with. Is it just physically tossing people about? Is this how he absorbs souls? I suppose those questions will have to be left to be answered in later episodes. His voice was altered in such a way that it evoked a "creepy/mystical" vibe but it bordered on unintelligible at times. The effects team of 'Arrow' have always been good at tweaking as they go though so I don't see this as something that will remain an issue for very long.

As for Rory himself? Well, we didn't get much of him. And what we DID get will lead me into answering the other questions. So let's move on then.


2) How is this Ragman, so far, different from the Ragman of the comic books?

Let's take his looks off the table for now (though, let's be honest, aside from the lack of a cape and the addition of a hooded trench-coat, he's pretty much right off the page). Firstly, this Ragman is NOT from Gotham. It's POSSIBLE that he was born in and lived (for a time) in Gotham, but if this is true, it has yet to be revealed. This version of Rory hails from Havenrock, the city/town that was obliterated after the nuclear missile hit it towards the end of Season 4. A missile Felicity redirected away from Star City midair. So there will be some tension there I suppose. As such, the suit has a radioactive signature, which Felicity herself states in the episode. It's worth noting that, APPARENTLY, the radiation did NOT give the suit it's abilities. So far it merely gives the Arrow team a convenient means of tracking Ragman. How do I know this? Well, other than the express statements MADE in the episode itself by Felicity and Oliver, Rory himself hints at it later. Which leads me to how this Ragman is the same. So let me move on.


3) How is he the same?

In order to get a grasp on this, I need to directly quote Rory from the episode. After their meeting, Green Arrow and Ragman meet on a rooftop where Rory demasks and has a brief exchange with Green Arrow on his history and motivation. "I think it's what my father would've wanted me to do. He saved my life. On Genesis Day he wrapped me in these rags. He said they were ancient, from the time of Devarim, that they would protect me from the fire." Ok first, let me say that we have another difference from the comic book version stated here we need to tally up. In the comics, the Post-Crisis Ragman (who we CLEARLY are dealing with in this iteration) was weak to fire. Fire was the only thing capable of destroying the suit. Ok. moving on. Similarities. Rory calls the rags "ancient, from the time of Devarim". It took me FOREVER to figure out what that word was because it SOUNDED like "dave eyereem". Luckily I figured it out.  Add to this the fact that earlier in the episode Felicity says a piece of the suit she had analyzed was, "over 2,000 years old" and we have our similarity. This suit, and presumably it's powers, are CLEARLY linked to Judaic mythology/folklore. Now the ORIGINAL story had Ragman be the creation of Rabbi's following the Legend of the Golem. According to wikipedia (hey, I'm not an expert in Judaism) "the most famous golem narrative involves Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the late-16th-century rabbi of Prague." The late 16th century puts us around the 1500's AD. Devarim is MUCH older than that as it takes place JUST before the death of Moses. Yeah, THAT Moses. Which, depending on where you look, is estimated to be around 1201 BC to 1273 BC (though I did find one account presuming his death around 1407 BC). Either way, that places the origins of the Ragman suit WAY before the Legend of the Golem, which WOULD be a difference, but the fact that it's still being rooted so heavily in Judaic legend leads me to count it as a similarity. The Legend of the Golem, at least the famous one, was from 500+ years ago, nowhere close to Felicity's stated, "over 2,000 years". Though 3,000 years is, technically, "over 2,000 years" I'm still counting it.

So what's Devarim and how does it related to Ragman? Well, in short? It doesn't. Not directly. In the comics, Ragman is known as the Tatterdemalion of Justice (see the header to this very blog). Davarim is a reference to a section of what Christians call Deuteronomy from the Holy Bible. Paraphrased from Deuteronomy Chapter 1, verses 3 and 5: "It came to pass...that Moses spoke to the children of Israel according to all that the Lord had commanded him regarding them...on that side of the Jordan, in the land of Moab, Moses commenced and explained this Law."

Devarim is, if I'm reading these various sources right, a reference to the explanation of God's Law to his people via Moses. Law. JUSTICE.

According to another source, "Tzedek, “justice”, is a key word in the book of Devarim – most famously in the verse: Justice, justice you shall pursue, so that you may thrive and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you. (Deut. 16:20)"

Justice is obviously a heavy theme for Ragman. As is, according to his origins when tied to the Golem, "emet" meaning "Truth". It can be said that Justice and Truth are one and the same at times. So...similarity.

Whew, I've exhausted my knowledge of Devarim. I hope all of that made sense.

So there you go. My breakdown of what we know, so far, about the Ragman appearing on 'Arrow' VS the Ragman that appeared Post-Crisis in DC Comics. But wait...don't I have another question to answer? Oh yeah...

4) Will I EVER get back to semi-regular posting on this blog?

Without over explaining? Yes. I can't give you a time table. Nor can I tell you it'll happen every two weeks or something. But suffice it to say that between The LanternCast, my new podcast The Action Comics Weekly Podcast, and my real life responsibilities...I'm pretty taxed. But I DO miss blogging. And if there's ONE blog I want to keep going, it's this one.

Alright folks, thank you for reading! Please don't forget to comment below! It's the only way I know you're out there reading!

PS: Everyone out there posting images of 'Arrow's new Ragman? THIS is not Ragman...


THIS is Prometheus. Someone ENTIRELY different. Thank you for reading!

Monday, July 25, 2016

NEWS: Ragman to Appear on Season 5 of Hit CW Show 'Arrow'!

Yeah. It would take a massive announcement like this to shock me back into posting. Actually, shock is a great choice of words.

On Saturday July 23rd, 2016 during San Diego Comic Con the powers the be at The CW, DC Comics, and Arrow announced that actor Joe Dinicol will be cast in the role of Rory Regan aka Ragman for the shows fifth season.

. . . . . . .

Yep. RAGMAN is coming to live action.

Take a few moments to absorb that. Because you better BELIEVE I did.

*whew* We good? Ok. Let's proceed. Because I'm IMMEDIATELY going to overlook the age/look of Joe here for the role. Why? Because anytime I've had criticism for the way an actor set to portray a DC character on the CW looked, I've been proved wrong in thrilling ways. Grant Gustin as Barry Allen and Robbie Amell as Ronnie Raymond for starters. So, at this point, I'm just going to have faith in DCTV casting until they give me an on screen reason to dislike the choice.

The first question we need to as is, "Which version of Ragman will we get in Arrow Season 5?"

Pre-Crisis standard superhero origin? Or Post-Crisis "Suit of Souls" mystical stuff?

It's been widely reported and hinted at that Arrow Season 5 will take a step back towards the feel the show had during it's 2nd season. Which many are interpreting as less super-powered and magical beings and more street level stuff. I don't know if that's true (click bait comics media likes to run with things if it means a new article) but IF so, it would seem that introducing a post-crisis Ragman to Arrow would counter that directional course correction for the show.

HOWEVER we DID get Constantine, Vixen, & Damien Darhk in Season 4 and, while the magical aspects of the show were criticized at times by a few, there were aspects of it that seemed to draw a chorus of cheers from fans.

Keep in mind though, it's entirely possible that the Ragman/Rory we get could just be another vigilante operating in Star City. As in, just a guy in a suit with a cause personal to him. IF that's the case, I'll obviously be disappointed. But if it IS, I hope it's just a means to an end much the same way Arrow introduced Barry Allen before ever giving him powers. Set up the character and his motivations and THEN introduce his powerset.

Regardless, we've already been given our first look at Ragman in action for Arrow Season 5! (Click each image to enlarge)




Now, keep in mind, these are screenshots from a moving scene in a clip from the Arrow Season 5 trailer. I'm slightly disappointed there is no cape in this version of the suit, but I have to admit that this looks pretty amazing for what it is. There ARE patches, there IS a hood, and it LOOKS like there is a full face mask/covering. It looks dirty and messy and....JUNKY. It works. And if we can't get a cape, at least we get a trench-coat flopping around as he moves.

One other question I would ask: "Will Rory Regan be portrayed as a Jew?"

The character is highly steeped in Jewish mythology/folklore (particularly Post-Crisis) so will that remain? Rory himself never claimed much active belief in the religion of his father (though he always seemed more of a traditional Jew as opposed to a practicing one). I'd be curious, in an era of equality and representation to see if the CW gives equal representation to someone of faith. Or if they downplay it (or ignore it entirely) in order to avoid criticism. 

No matter WHAT they do with the character, I'm not ready to pass judgement until I have something concrete to act upon. Right now the only thing we have that's concrete are the stills and the name of the actor.

But hey, RAGMAN WILL BE IN LIVE ACTION!!!!!!

I guess I better start pumping out the posts again... ;)

(Check out my LIVE video after the announcement!)



Be sure to LEAVE A COMMENT on this post! Tell me what YOU'RE thinking! I'd love to hear back from you!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #14 - Small Miracles!

TATTERS! I apologize profusely for the lateness of this post. As I stated last time, I was planning on getting this post up just in time to bookend Chanuka with posts by December 14th. I had the post written up and scheduled to post but evidently there was an issue with the Blogger "schedule" option and we didn't release when I scheduled it. (Thanks to Professor Alan for pointing it out to me on his blog!) Here follows the post I promised you!

Previously I presented you with a FANTASTIC interview with Sholly Fisch (a word I ascribe to the way I felt DOING the interview and interacting with Sholly, not assigning to my skills as an interviewer). Well, HERE I give you my thoughts on the main focus of the interview, the issue from 'Batman: The Brave and the Bold' #14 featuring a special Holiday story with Ragman! Sholly Fisch was the writer, Rick Burchett was the penciler, Dan Davis was the inker, Guy Major was the colorist, and Dezi Sienty was the letterer. Here we go!

We open, as is typical in a Batman the Brave and the Bold story, with a completely unrelated moment. Batman and the Blue Beetle are attempting to stop a sinister plot by Crazy Quilt, Doctor Spectro, and the Rainbow Raider to...change the color of all the snow in Gotham City...

Yeah.

Well, with one batarang, Batman knocks them all out. Leaving Beetle to whine that Bats left nobody for him to take on.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Gotham...


Suddenly a call for help echos from the street and, as the Rabbi goes out to see what's happening, he asks Rory to help by calling 911. Rory of course, darts out into the back alley for his own special brand of helping, not picking up the phone but answering the call for help by becoming RAGMAN.

Out in the street, Ragman stops a thief confidently stealing an older woman's shopping basket full of scavenged bottles and cans for the recycling center. After Ragman returns Lucy's (the old woman) basket, he hears from behind him, "Not exactly an armored car robbery but well done." It's Batman, perched on the hood of a car. Rags retorts with, "Oh, it's you."




While Batman is left momentarily to ponder the harsh reality put forth to him by Rags, the two hear a gunshot in the distance. At the Synagogue the Rabbi is being threatened by two thugs trying to scare him into leaving the place to them because, "This neighborhood is ours."

Quickly they're confronted with a crowd of locals, complete with Batman and Ragman, claiming just the opposite, "No it's OURS!" The thugs begin firing at the crowd as Ragman uses his suit to absorb the bullets and Batman takes care of one thug and Ragman then leaps to punch out the other. Batman asks what happened and the Rabbi retorts that he doesn't know as they have nothing of value in the Synagogue. Ragman expresses the senselessness of staying, not understanding why it doesn't phase the Rabbi. The Rabbi respond by saying that people need places like the synagogue and they need people like him. He says his people (the Jews) have been through much worse before and turns to Ragman as he asks, "Tell me, do you know the story of Chanukah?"



Throughout all of this, Batman is busy messing with the cell phone of the thug. He comes across his call history and discovers that the thug received multiple calls from the MacGuffin Group, the real estate group buying up the neighborhood and forcing people out with higher rents and cost of living. The rabbi confirms this by saying that the MacGuffin Group recently approached him about buying the synagogue. Ragman gets understandably upset and heads off to confront him but, before he can, Batman stops him and says Rags has plenty of take care of where he is, quipping as Ragman did before that, "Uptown is MY responsibility remember?"

Batman quickly pays a visit to the MacGuffin Group and they're promptly turned over to the authorities. A little while later...



And that's that!

Wow.

I LOVE this story. It's VERY straight forward and obviously meant to be consumed by readers younger than myself. But it manages to be an EXCELLENT Ragman themed story without being overly dark or preachy. A holiday comic surrounding themes like Hanukkah could quickly be dismissed as overly religious or preachy, but Sholly manages to write it in such a way to tie into the story-line and express more "average person" views such as being a miracle to those around you. Of course themes like "God gives you what you need" are in there, but it's not presented as (and here's that word again) preachy, It's more general good natured and positive vibes instead. A sort of "magic of the holiday season" story set with a Hanukkah backdrop. Not merely a story dedicated to a Judaic "agenda".

And in a KIDS comic to boot.

I love it.

As for Rory/Rags himself? I don't see anything inconsistent here. Rory was never really particularly religious in his prior story's. He was more of a "traditional Jew" in that he was a Jew by family history/tradition and opposed to a practicing member of the faith. And this captures that quite well. He still has feelings of helplessness and a crisis of faith moments from time to time, which, personally, jibes with my own history with religion.

I was raised Christian (Lutheran specifically) and, without going into specifics, left the weekly church services due to the questions they wouldn't answer and the hypocrisy. I still consider myself a Christian, but the DOCTRINE and the SPECIFICS are no longer things I'm confident in standing by. But I was RAISED in the Church. So, no matter what, there are moments I feel guilty or "off" about certain things that I no longer ascribe to but have a built in concern about because of how I was raised. I wonder if the same is true for Rory?

Though, side bar, isn't it interesting that a man whose power comes directly from a Judaic myth would still be a relative non-believer?

As for the rest? Rory helping the community through Rags n' Tatters was a breath of consistency that I especially appreciated. And the theme of the locals being forced out via a shady real estate developer has a very "Pat Broderick/Keith Giffen 1990's Ragman" feel to it.

All in all, this is a fabulously flawless story (well, so long as you discount the ridiculousness of the opening acts villainous plan).

As always, don't forget to COMMENT on this post directly and let me know what you think! Don't forget to share the blog with your friends! See you around Tatters and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!


Monday, December 7, 2015

An Exclusive Interview with Sholly Fisch!

Chag Urim Sameach Tatters! That's, "Happy Festival of Lights" in Hebrew for those who don't know. Nope, I don't speak Hebrew, in this case, Google was my friend. So why a traditional Hebrew salutation associated with Hanukkah/Chanuka? Well, yesterday (December 6th, 2015) at sunset marked the first day of Chanuka! As we all know the character of Rory Regan/Ragman is heavily involved in Judaism in post Crisis continuity. So, I felt it was necessary to celebrate the beginning of the Festival of Lights here on the blog with a very special entry! 

The other day I finally snagged myself a copy of 'Batman: The Brave and the Bold' #14. This story, though not YET reviewed on this blog, features a very touching story wherein Ragman (with some assistance from Batman and Bruce Wayne) helps save his neighborhood from being overtaken by a real-estate company intent on buying up the property in the neighborhood and forcing the residents out (sound familiar?) via expensive rent and, it turns out, cheap thuggery.

It's actually an extremely well done comic and is often touted by myself and several other friends in the comics world as one of the better holiday themed stories out there featuring the DC characters.

So why not simply review that comic? Well, as you may know, Chanuka lasts eight days. So I figured I'd round out Chanuka at both ends with two very special posts! The first will be THIS very entry featuring an interview with the writer of 'Batman: The Brave and the Bold' #14, Sholly Fisch! The second post (out on December 14th) will be my review of that very issue!

So let's get to it! Sholly took some time out to speak with me about comics, Ragman, this story, and more so without further adieu...here we go!

First and foremost, how did you get into the comics industry? What's your background?

Well, those are really two different questions, but the answers to both are basically “right place at the right time.”

Comics-wise, I’d been a huge comics fan since I was five years old.  I finished college a semester early, so I had about six months free before starting grad school, and I got myself a job at a tiny publishing company in New York City.  (They were about to publish their third book.  That’s how small it was.)  A couple of months after I started, a friend of mine was about to graduate college and got himself a job at the Wall Street Journal, so he was leaving his menial file clerk job at Marvel Comics, and I said, “Wait!  Wait!  Tell them you know somebody!”I did the file clerk job at Marvel until I started grad school (at which point, my sister took over the job and wound up turning it into a real job in international licensing).  While I was there, I met a guy named Sandy Hausler, who was the assistant editor on Marvel’s in-house promotional magazine, Marvel Age.  Sandy introduced me to the editor, Jim Salicrup, and I started writing articles for Marvel Age.  (Incidentally, Sandy and I also wound up sharing an apartment for the next few years, so it’s been a very profitable friendship.)  Through Marvel Age, I got to know the various Marvel editors, and found out when people were looking for stories.  I started writing comics, and the rest is not-quite history.


As for my background, that has more to do with my day job.  I have a Ph.D. in developmental psychology, and I’ve spent the past thirty years helping to make educational media for kids.  The first fifteen of those years were at Sesame Workshop (also known as Children’s Television Workshop, depending on what year it was), where they make Sesame Street and things like that.  By the time I left, I was a VP in charge of the educational side of things for all sorts of projects  – TV shows, digital games, magazines, hands-on materials, and so on – and testing stuff out with kids to make sure they’d understand and enjoy them.  Since then, I’ve continued to do the same kinds of work, but now I do it for lots of different clients through my own consulting business.  At this point, I’ve been involved in projects on every continent but Antarctica, and sometimes, I still do some work for the Workshop too.


Were you a fan of specific characters or titles as a kid?


Oh, sure.  As a young kid in the 1960s, I was just the right age to get caught up in the Batmania that was sweeping the country, and I read Batman comics, collected Batman trading cards, wore Batman pajamas...  In fact, I still have the plastic Batman mask that I used to play with back then.  I’d wear a blue towel around my neck when I played Batman – that is, when I wasn’t wearing a red towel to play Superman.  At Marvel, I was a fan of things like Spider-Man, but my favorite was their parody comic, Not Brand Echh, which was the pinnacle of humor to me when I was six years old – and, actually, I still find those comics really funny.  I even have a page of original art from Not Brand Echh hanging on the wall of my office.


As I got older, I still loved Batman, but I also discovered the vast array of other characters out there, and my number-one favorites shifted to Plastic Man and the original Captain Marvel.  Not to mention that, in my opinion, no one has ever done comics better than Will Eisner, especially his Spirit.  Over the years, I also developed a deep and abiding love for obscure, offbeat, or downright goofy characters, like Bat-Mite, Metamorpho, or Sugar and Spike.  And “offbeat” certainly includes Ragman.


How did you happen upon the (for lack of a better term) DC kids line gig?


Heh.  Well, I “happened” upon it through two years of repeatedly badgering DC editors.  DC started doing comics based on Warner Brothers and Cartoon Network cartoons during a period of a couple of years when I had pretty much fallen out of the comics industry.  Basically, since I was working full-time at the Workshop, I wasn’t able to stop in at the Marvel offices anymore, and I was doing all of my work by fax.  (This was in those ancient days before e-mail.)  That was fine, but because I was never in the office, I didn’t get to meet new editors in Marvel.  And the natural turnover of staff meant that, eventually, I didn’t really know anyone there anymore, and my work opportunities dried up.


So, since I’d been writing comics for about a dozen years at that point, had worked in kids’ television, and had actually written a few scripts for a preschool show on Cartoon Network, I figured I was a pretty good candidate to write some of the Cartoon Network comics – not to mention that, as a lifelong Bugs Bunny fan, I would have killed to write Looney Tunes.  But, of course, editors are paid to get their comics out on time, not to read unsolicited submissions.  So I kept checking in every few months, and it took two years and four editors before Joan Hilty took over the kids’ line and gave me a shot.  With my background in kids and media, it was a natural fit.


Actually, though, I like keeping a foot in both “kid” and “regular” comics.  I strongly suspect I’m the only writer whose past credits include both Looney Tunes and Clive Barker’s Hellraiser.  The kids’ comics give me opportunities to just have fun, not worry about continuity, and even bring back all of those offbeat and goofy characters whom I loved over the years.  The regular comics give me the opportunity to write stories that “count” in continuity and make my own little contributions to the mythos, like the time when I worked with astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson to establish a real-life location for Krypton.  By doing both kinds of comics, I get the best of both worlds.


What inspired you to bring a character like Ragman into the title? Were you a fan of Ragman prior to the issue?


Yup, I’ve been a fan of Ragman since the ‘70s.  In fact, I have a full set of his original series, and it was always a nice surprise when he’d pop up in Brave and Bold or something.  


To be honest, I found his ‘90s ret-con a little odd, since “Rory Regan” doesn’t exactly sound like a Jewish name, and despite the claims of his revised origin, the golem legend doesn’t really have anything to do with clothes.  But, as a Modern Orthodox Jew, I grew up in a world where there weren’t any Jewish super-heroes at all, and even today, there aren’t a whole lot of them.  So I’m always happy to find a new Jewish hero – especially when it’s a character whom I’ve enjoyed for years.



By the way, I was having lunch with my pal and former editor, Rachel Gluckstern, the other day, and I mentioned we were doing this interview.  She reminded me of another bit of behind-the-scenes involvement I had with Ragman:  When Rachel was editing Batwoman, she did an issue or two in which Ragman guest starred.  The cover of one of those issues had some golem-inspired imagery, including the Hebrew word emet (“truth,” which brings a golem to life) transformed into met (“die,” which kills a golem).  So she asked me to take a look at the cover art, to make sure the Hebrew was accurate and they hadn’t accidentally done anything offensive.  Seeing Hebrew words and Jewish mythology on a Bat-cover is a far cry from “no Jewish characters” when I was a kid.

Did bringing a character like Ragman, with such seemingly "dark" themes, present an issue when translating the character into your story?


Not so much.  Bear in mind, I recently put the Spectre into Scooby-Doo Team-Up, and in my House of Mystery issue of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, I had Cain chasing Abel with a shovel.  Whenever I incorporate any DC character – dark or otherwise -- into the kid comics, I always try to home in on the essence of the character, and translate it into kid-appropriate terms.  Actually, the bizarre juxtaposition of the dark characters in the kids’ comics often makes those moments the most fun and some of my favorite things to do.


How did the idea to use Ragman specifically in a Hanukkah story come about? DC isn't necessarily known for a wide breadth of Jewish characters, so why Ragman?


When I write a team-up series like Brave and Bold, sometimes the guest star comes first and I figure out a story that works for the character, and sometimes the story idea comes first and I think about what character would fit.  In this case, it started with the idea of doing a Chanuka story.  As I said, when I was growing up, there weren’t really any Jewish characters in comics, and there certainly weren’t any stories built around Jewish content.  With that said, though, I always enjoyed Christmas stories in comics – and still do -- because they were generally change-of-pace sorts of stories with positive messages.  Once I started writing comics, I wrote a few of them myself.  And, every once in a while, I got to write a Chanuka-themed story, generally in unexpected places like Marvel’s parody comic What The--?! or even Scooby-Doo.  It’s always a treat for me when I get to write the sorts of stories that never existed when I was a kid.


So, once I decided to write a Chanuka story, it made sense to make the guest star a Jewish hero. Since Ragman was an old favorite of mine, he was at the top of a very short list.


What inspired you to give Rory a "crisis of faith" for this story? Is it something you gleaned from prior Ragman stories?


Sort of.  It was a combination of a couple of things.  One was that, even though Rory has been established as Jewish, he’s never been shown to be particularly religious.  So, if I was going to build a story around a Jewish holiday, that gave me some interesting character possibilities to play with.


Also, when I wrote the story, the whole “Occupy Wall Street”/“Occupy-fill-in-the-name-of-the-place” movement was going on.  So the issue of poverty was on everyone’s mind, including mine.  Ragman had always been based in slum neighborhoods, helping people on a very down to earth, grass-roots level; he wasn’t a “fly out into space and fight Darkseid” sort of hero.  So that was a pretty natural fit.  And I liked the opportunity for some role reversal with Batman, where another hero could berate Batman for being too “uptown” instead of Batman saying it to Superman or someone.

Mushing all of that together made for some nice parallels, where the pressure of larger social issues could wear Ragman down, and he could simultaneously reconnect with his heritage and also rediscover his faith in himself.  Actually, one of the things that made me feel pretty good was that, around the time the issue came out, I gave a talk at my daughter’s elementary school about how comics are made, and since it was Chanuka time, I used that issue as an example.  Then, a week or two later, my daughter came home from school and told me that her assistant principal used the story in a school assembly that day, when he spoke to the students about Chanuka.  Not bad for a comic book...


In your mind, who is Rory Regan/Ragman? How would you define him?


To a large extent, I think it depends on who’s writing him, and what sort of series he’s in.  For example, Ragman in Shadowpact was pretty different than Ragman in the original Kanigher/Kubert series.

To me, though – and I think this is true of most of his various incarnations – Rory Regan is a regular guy who’s trying to do some good.  Growing up in a slum neighborhood with a father who ran a pawn shop, he’s been surrounded by poverty all his life, so he knows all of the challenges that brings, but he’s seen people overcome those challenges to enjoy life and help each other through the bad times, too.  Given the choice, I don’t think Rory would take a Green Lantern ring and fly off into space to defend the galaxy.  He knows he’s needed right where he is.


Before we wrap up, I wanted to tell you that (though I don't normally read these sorts of titles) I saw and picked up "Scooby Doo Team Up" #13 with the Scooby gang and the Spectre, Phantom Stranger and Deadman. Phantom Stranger and Deadman are some of my FAVORITE characters in the DC universe. So I HAVE to ask, what was the inspiration/what can you tell me about that story?

Yeah, that’s one of my favorite issues of Scooby Team-Up too.  The inspiration was pretty simple – what could be more natural than Scooby and his gang of ghost-hunters meeting DC’s most prominent ghosts?  Once I realized that the thirteenth issue would come out just after Halloween, it was a pretty obvious choice to do the story in that issue.


I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t read it, so I’ll say this fairly obliquely.  But, as you could probably tell from reading the issue, there’s a Scooby/Spectre panel that popped into my head fairly early on, it made me laugh out loud, and I pretty much wrote the entire issue around it.  Actually, when the proofs of the issues were making the standard rounds of internal review at DC, my Scooby Team-Up editor, Kristy Quinn, forwarded me a couple of e-mails saying that even the DC proofreader and legal guy found that scene hysterical.  If you can make a lawyer laugh while he’s searching for anything that could get the company sued, you know it must be pretty funny.


Beyond that, add in the chance to do some fun moments with the Phantom Stranger and Deadman, and cram in just about every DC ghost character I could think of (including Kid Eternity, Captain Triumph, and the Grim Ghost – or “Gay Ghost,” depending on what year it was – all of whom are among my favorites), and it was a whole lot of fun to write.




Is there anything you'd like to promote?

Let’s see… I should probably mention that, for anyone who hasn’t read the Ragman story, you can find it reprinted in the third All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold trade paperback, which is subtitled “Small Miracles.”  The book also includes the issue that teamed up every Robin ever (yes, including Carrie Kelly from Dark Knight), a completely insane story about Bat-Mite’s crush on Batgirl, and even a few pages of a time-traveling Batman teaming up with Super-Hip and Brother Power, the Geek in the 1960s.  So it’s a pretty fun book.


Other than that, I guess I should plug my current series.  These days, I’m writing Scooby-Doo Team-Up and half of just about every issue of Teen Titans Go!, as well as periodic stories for Looney Tunes and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?  Outside the kid stuff, I also have a backup story coming up in this year’s Superman/Wonder Woman Annual.  Oh, and every once in a while, I’ve been writing an occasional story for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles magazine in the UK.  When you take into account that all of this is just the stuff I do late at night, after I finish my day job, have dinner with my family, and put them to bed, it’s pretty busy around here. I’m not getting a whole lot of sleep, but I’m having enormous fun.



And that is that! For those who are familiar with my usual interviews, you may notice a slight difference in "conversational" language. Well, this is one of the few instances where I conducted the interview via email as opposed to audio-transcribed-to-text. Hence the difference. Regardless it was ALOT of fun getting to speak with Sholly about Ragman and his work in the industry. I highly recommend you check out his works mentioned above and if you're missing the "fun" in the DC Universe, I promise you it's within the pages of the titles he's writing!

So thanks to Sholly once more for taking the time to speak with me, despite the crushing deadline of Chanuka upon us! I also wanted to thank fellow podcaster and blogger Rob Kelly for introducing us. Maybe in the near future I can look forward to a Green Lantern featured appearance in Scooby Doo Team-Up so I have an excuse to talk to him again for the podcast! Other personal character suggestions include; Firestorm, the JSA, Firebrand, Starfire, Infinity INC, etc. Though, if I'm being honest, a team up featuring the Golden Age Alan Scott, his wife the Harlequin, and his kids Jade and Obsidian is my personal favorite idea...

That's it for this time Tatters! See you on the 14th for a review of 'Batman: The Brave and the Bold' #14! As always, please, Please, PLEASE do not hesitate to leave a comment on the blog directly and let me know what you think! And don't forget to share these entries with your friends!



Friday, October 16, 2015

Ragman Merchandise - 1991 Ragman Series Promotional Poster!

Normally I'd post a review (or try to) by today. But my mother is in town from Washington so my free time is booked with more important things until next week. But FEAR NOT loyal Tatters! I have something to stave off your Ragman hunger pangs!

An image NEVER BEFORE SEEN on the interwebs! That's right! I searched high and I searched low across the internet using several search engines and multiple combinations of various relevant search terms and I could find NOTHING but this extremely low-res, tiny little picture for you...

But I resorted to ebay, where I found a helpful little seller of comic related merchandise (and other items) that was SELLING the very poster I was seeking out! (Shout out to eBay seller scsenterprise!) And I found and purchased the poster for all of $0.99! The benefit of being an AVID Ragman fan is that there aren't many of us. So, while it's HORRIBLE for sharing your fandom, it's EXCELLENT for eBay bidding!

I received the poster a few days ago and today managed to scan and combine the various images into a single large, hi-res image! (forgive the lines, the pitfalls of scanning and assembling multiple images into one large one when you're inexperienced)

So, for your viewing pleasure, here is the OFFICIAL 1991 Ragman Series Promotional Poster as it was shipped to comic stores from DC Comics! (Click the image for all it's glory!)


Needless to say, this poster features work by the incomparable Pat Broderick. Assembled behind Ragman are the cover images from all eight issues of the mini-series and the figure of Ragman himself seems to come from the final page of the first issue of the series...


Amazing! And I'm super stoked to have it in my collection. I plan on having it framed fairly soon and I'll definitely update you guys with the finished framed image when it's ready!


As always, thanks for reading the blog and please, Please, PLEASE don't forget to comment and let me know what you're thinking! See you next week for the issue #7 review!