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!

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Everything We Know About the Earth-13 RAGMAN - PART TWO of TWO!

Did the first entry into this short series pique your curiosity at all? Well good because we're back ALREADY with the most significant info dump yet on the Ragman from the 'League of Shadows' of Earth-13!

Oddly enough the information comes from a blink-and-you-miss-it holiday special released in 2021. Holiday specials are interesting publications in comics. They're almost always oversized anthology issues that garner varying degrees of interest from the comics community. We get them around Valentines Day, Halloween, Christmas, etc and the sales can vary wildly. Sometimes they sell based on cover art, sometimes on creative teams, and sometimes simply based on the characters chosen to be featured. Especially if one of the stories launches a new series or features a beloved character with a devoted fanbase that hasn't had the spotlight in awhile.

The 2021 'DC's Very Merry Multiverse Special' was most definitely an assortment of characters that could have escaped the notice of many regular comic buyers. There were the usual bait characters: a Harley story and a Batman story. But then we had Teen Justice, President Superman, Batman Beyond, The Injustice League of Unamerica, Booster Gold, Prez, and Lobo (and of course the League of Shadows story we're recapping here today).

Creator wise the rabid fan appeal wasn't all there, at least for those who primarily only follow trending creators. The Lobo story was written by DC powerhouse Tom King with art by Scott Koblish, which most certainly would have attracted some, but the rest hadn't yet attracted the same attention (though most of them certainly should). That being said our story of the League of Shadows featured a name not unfamiliar for Ragman fans, writer Sholly Fisch.

If you're paying attention, Sholly wrote the only other Ragman holiday story ever told in 'Batman: The Brave and the Bold #14' which is based on the popular animated series of the same name (I reviewed that issue back in 2015 here if you wish to read that). Sholly is actually a huge Ragman fan himself as he told me when I had the pleasure of interviewing him awhile back. So it's perhaps kismet that Sholly was tapped to give us the origin of the latest individual to wear rags in the multiverse in yet another holiday story, this time with art by Vanesa Del Rey, colors by Tamra Bonvillain, and lettered by Ferran Delgado.

Our story, titled NIGHT OF THE MAGI opens on the holiday of Saturnalia in progress on Earth-13. Ragman and the League of Shadows are engaged in what seems to be an annual bought of ritualistic combat against one another, fueled by the Lord of Misrule and Mother Destruction. The League is pitted against one another, seemingly as aware of the strings pulling them as they are of their puppeteers, and are none too happy with this tiresome tradition, though seemingly unable to do anything overtly to prevent it. While engaged in unwilling combat with his peers, Ragman's mind drifts back to ancient Egypt.

There we've met a Hebrew slave named Ya'akov who slips away from servitude as well as family to become another man entirely, passing himself off as an Egyptian named Amun. Time passes and Amun is now among his former persecuters, passing as one of them in Egyptian clothing, forcing the Hebrew slaves to toil beneath him to maintain his new identity. A slave recognizes him and in Hebrew calls out to him...the man he recognizes as his own son.

Back in the "present" the League struggles to stay alive as they unwillingly fight one another. But the Lord of Misrules spell cannot be broken as all must obey during Saturnalia. However Ragman claims he his Jewish and therefore under no such rules as he makes his move toward the Lord of Misrule. When suddenly Mother Destruction strikes at him claiming that he is now "also dead!" To which he retorts, "Yes, I am. For LONGER than you know." And we get another flashback...

Amun/Ya'akov gets to serve the Pharaoh as he so desperately wanted, but in the vein of "be careful what you wish for" as he was killed and mummified to accompany the decently deceased Pharaoh into the afterlife. But coming face to face with the Egyptian Gods of Osiris and Anubis he finds himself turned away from a holy afterlife. Instead punished to walk the Earth, abandoned by Heaven, forced to serve others. "You shall walk the Earth for eons, bearing the weight of your transgressions in the wrappings you wear. Defending those who have no defenders. Delivering retribution to the unholy, until the day your merits outweigh your sins and you earn your final reward."

Back in the present a portal to hell looses fire and tentacles onto the Lord of Misrule and Mother Destruction as the League now stands victorious. As they leave the embers of the fire remaining once the portal is closed, Enchantress asks after the wellbeing of Ragman whom replys, "It is said that saving a single life is akin to saving an entire world. In my youthful indifference, how many worlds did I destroy so long ago? With the lives I saved tonight another bandage dissolves and with it the burden of the sin it represents. Yet so many more remain. Perhaps the New Year that beckons on the horizon will be the one that strikes the balance and brings my journey to its end." And there our story ends.

And so we have learned MUCH more about the Ragman of Earth-13 than we have in any other appearance. Ragman is not modern Rory Regan, descendant of a family of Jewish lineage, protector of the downtrodden wearing a family relic of a suit of Rags cast into being by Rabbi capable of absorbing the souls of evildoers. But instead Ragman is one of the original Hebrew slaves out of Egypt, Ya'akov Ben Shimon who abandoned his people and his family in his own self interest, content with ruling over them instead. Murdered and buried beside a dead pharaoh and judged not by his own God but by the gods of Egypt to walk the Earth until he makes up for the misery he caused. The Rags he wears are the wraps he was mummified in, each now a sin to "work off" as we see flashbacks of him saving slaves from their captors all the way to taking on Nazi's.

Oddly enough his story mirrors more of that of the Phantom Stranger in the New 52 than it does Ragman of Earth-1. The Phantom Stranger in the New 52, as written by Dan DiDio, was revealed not to be a nameless stranger but instead Judas Iscariot, former disciple of Jesus Christ, who betrayed Jesus to the Romans for 30 pieces of silver. Standing in judgement before the council of wizards, Judas becomes the Phantom Stranger, his thirty pieces of silver now wrapped around him in a necklace, only to fall off one by one as he wanders in service to a higher calling. Given my fondness of the Phantom Stranger, I found it comforting to see some of his more recent core concepts adapted into the alternate version of another favorite character, Ragman.

So there you have it everyone! Everything we know of Ya'akov Ben Shimon, the Ragman of Earth-13! For now...

What do you think?! Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Everything We Know About the Earth-13 RAGMAN - PART ONE of TWO!

The year is 2015. NCIS is the most popular TV show on air, avocado toast reigns supreme, "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars is everywhere, and Grant Morrison decides to drag comic readers waist deep into the frothing insanity of their storytelling via the continuing experiment from the prior year, 'The Multiversity'.

I'm going to be honest, I don't remember much from 'The Multiversity' or its collective of one-shots. There's good/tolerable Grant Morrison and there's "what the ever loving fuck did I just read" Grant Morrison. 'The Multiversity' fell into the latter for me, and as a result, I've wiped its memory and its plot from my brain.

That said, Morrisons bizarre fever dream births unto us a "definitive" (as much as something can be in the ever changing landscape of comics) Map of the Multiverse. A spherical rendering of the Earths in the DC multiverse, floating through the Bleed is the Orrery of Worlds. Bordered by the Speed Force, further bordered by the Sphere of the Gods (containing Heaven, Hell, New Genesis, etc), even further bounded by the Monitor Sphere, with the entire collective protected from the Source by the Source Wall itself.

Within the Orrery of Worlds we find a designation for Earth-13 and its DC "proper" counterparts. Here the 'League of Shadows' protects the Earth in its "permanent magical twilight". Comprising the team are some names you recognize, some you don't, including: Hellblazer, Annataz, Witchboy, Swamp-Man, Fate, Deadman, Enchantress, RAGMAN, and Superdemon. Superdemon of course being the Demon Etrigan rocketed to Earth from the doomed planet of Kamelot. Because why not?

Among the artistic rendering of Earth-13's League of Shadows within 'The Multiversity Guidebook' we see Ragman. As yet without a civilian identification, Ragman appears more mummy than anything we traditionally recognize as "Earth-1 Ragman". His wraps spiral off of him loosely in places, curling upward and away from him, as if drifting in some invisible etherial energies. His facial features are covered in the shadows of the only opening in his suit, red eyes bearing out at the reader.

Though some online resources note other issues from within 'The Multiversity' event as appearances of this new Ragman, the only one that is easily identified is from issue 2 of the main series (which serves as the end of the story proper). The issue actually opens with the League of Shadows on Earth-13 magically bound and guarded by what appear to be vampires. Superdemons human form says his rhyme to become his powered demon form and the League escapes. 

There we go. Our first words from our new Ragman. "Now something wicked this way comes." Given the magical nature of the entirety of Earth-13, it's unclear based on language alone if Ragman is merely uttering a poetic phrase that simply would mean "I got a bad feeling about this" to anyone else, or if we're seeing our first glimpse of power from Ragman in the form of some sort of extrasensory perception for evil/ill intent. Maybe Rags has a magical spider sense on Earth-13? Who knows?

But the team goes through to face on Dark Sivana and his enthralled vampiric Justice League of Earth 43, the Blood League. True to his Earth-1 Gotham based counterpart, Ragman comes briefly face to face with the vampiric Batman before a spell from one of his teammates renders the vampires craving coffee instead of blood.

...annnnddddd that's the last we see of Ragman in 'The Multiversity' until a group shot on the final double page splash at the end of the issue. He's right up there in the upper righthand corner. 

We don't see the Ragman of Earth-13 again for two years until 2017's issue of Superman #15. Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason are telling the 'Multiplicity' arc of their Superman run. Superman is introduced (re-introduced? Who the hell knows anymore) to the Justice League Incarnate and goes on a recruiting mission to take on...whatever the big bad for the 'Multiplicity' arc is. Don't ask me, this is everything we know about Earth-13 Ragman, not everything we know about the events tangentially involving him. 

But of course as with any super hero meetup, the inevitable misunderstanding face-off happens on Earth-13 when Superman tries to recruit Superdemon. And the League of Shadows is there to assist their leader.

Here we get another glimpse into what the actual potential powerset of this Ragman is as he uses his rags to fully envelop and restrain Superman so that Superdemon can breathe hellfire at him. This is extremely interesting for several reasons. The first being that the rags extend off of him to fully encase another but he himself still remains covered in the rags, which you can see when Superman breaks free. Second, that he is powerful enough to restrain Superman, at least temporarily. And last but CERTAINLY not least, THIS Ragman seems to not have a weakness to fire! The Ragman we know and love has been documented as being weak to fire, but Earth-13 Ragman takes a FULL blast of hellfire from the mouth of not just a Demon, but SUPERDEMON, and comes out unscathed. 

THAT is most definitely important to note.

It's another three years until we see Ragman of Earth-13 again, this time in the pages of the 'Flash Forward' mini-series, issue number 4 in 2020. For the sake of brevity (and my own personal sanity) I'm again not going to bother recapping the plot of 'Flash Forward', let alone this specific issue. Ragman appears along with the rest of the League of Shadows as they face down other characters. He says nothing, and he exhibits no specific unique powers. But he's facing another powerhouse character which is an amalgam of Cheetah and the Creeper. So we can safely confirm that the strength we see exhibited in the Superman issue, holds true if he's able to handle someone of that power level.

It's in the following years Christmas Special where we REALLY get to know our new Ragman...but I'm not going to talk about that until Part Two, because this is ALREADY getting very long.

So let's fast forward another year to the 'Justice League Incarnate' series, issue number TWO! Here the Justice League Incarnate finds themselves on Earth-13 where they meet up with a contact for their current mission (again, go read it if you're curious. It's not important for our purposes). But here we find another parallel between the main DCU and Earth-13...a hidden bar for magicians and those connected to magic. In our world you'd know it as the OBLIVION BAR! But on Earth-13 we know it instead as THE TAVERN OF MYSTERY! Its name suggests that it COULD be part Oblivion Bar, part House of Mystery, but that's speculation for another time. Because here we see Ragman again in various shots around the bar.

And there you have it. Everything we know so far about the Earth-13 Ragman, except of course the plethora of details found in the 2021 'Very Merry Multiverse' one-shot, which we'll be covering next!

So let's recap what we know, or rather THINK we know!

1) Ragman is a part of the Earth-13 Justice League known as the 'League of Shadows'.

2) Ragman MIGHT have some sort of extrasensory perception for danger/evil.

3) Ragman can extend his rags to envelop another and restrain them.

4) Ragman and/or his rags are strong enough to restrain Superman (of Earth-1) and a multiversal amalgam character who includes the strength of the Cheetah.

5) This Ragman is NOT weak to fire as his Earth-1 counterpart is.

So what's next? Well I already told you...so are you ready to be introduced to YA'AKOV BEN SHIMON?! Come back next time for PART TWO!

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Legends of the Dark Knight #51 - Snitch!

Welcome BACK Tatters! (You know, it's coming so easily to me now I figure that's definitively your name now as fellow fans of the Tatterdemalion) It's been a LONG hiatus for an infinitude of reasons (diverticulitis, unemployment, employment, promotions, etc) but NOBODY want's to spend the first several paragraphs of a long awaited new post with me recapping my life since late 2017 do they? Didn't think so.

This time around the rags we're covering 'Legends of the Dark Knight' #51 written by Robert Loren Fleming (who better sound familiar to you at this point), art by David G. Klein, lettered by Michael Heisler, colorist was Digital Chameleon,edited by Goodwin & Kaplan! The story is entitled "SNITCH" and yet somehow I always referred to it as "Stitch" because it had to do with, well you know, RAGman. 

But BEFORE we get into it, why oh why are we not covering 'Cry of the Dead' #1 first? After all, this issue was cover dated September of 1993, yet 'Cry of the Dead' started with a cover date of August 1993. Well look at you astute reader! That is absolutely correct. However Bill Kaplan, editor on both issues, notes in the letters column for CotD #1 (yes, I'm going to get sick of constantly using the name of the series so there's an acronym to keep track of) that this issue of 'Legends of the Dark Knight' actually takes place before the events of CotD #1! And who am I to shirk the sacred nature of canon from a DC editor in the 1990's?

Our story opens with a scene familiar in Gotham, especially by the late 90's, a chase between the Dark Knight Detective and a suspected baddy...on horseback? Our quarry astride a steed is dressed in Gotham PD gear toting a loaded pistol as Batman grapples through the streets to give chase. When a batarang fails to stop him in his tracks, yet succeeds in throwing him off just enough to injure his arm against a passing truck, the horseback rider takes aim and cleanly severs the grapple line mid swing causing Batman to hit the pavement. 

Later at Gotham General, Batman meets up with Gordon to discuss the victim of the foe who made a clean getaway: Dominic Jenko. And just in case there was any doubt as to his guilt Gordon starts his info dump on Jenko with, "If anyone deserved a violent death it was this man" before launching into a history of Jenko's associates.

After Batman passes the bullet that severed his line to Gordon as evidence, we see Bruce next in mid fencing lesson with one former Olympic athlete Victor Singleton and losing. Bruce stops to admire the canvas decor on the wall before returning to his less to be knocked on his hindquarters yet again

Back at Gotham General Batman arrives to get an update from Gordon who informs Batman that the hit ordered on Jenko was ordered by someone who used a middleman to complete the order for them...AUNT MILDRED!

Readers will remember Aunt Mildred from the previous Ragman series as one of the individuals who took over Rags 'N' Tatters and used it as a drug front. Our Rory absorbed her soul into the suit before he left Gotham. As Batman heads to Rags 'N' Tatters for a lead, the orderly in Aunt Mildred pulls the plug, killing her as Victor Singleton reveals himself to the reader in the darkness of the hospital room as Mildred flatlines. 

Over at Rory's former home and family business Batman is greeted by Betty from the pervious series who has been minding the shop. As she pours him a cup of coffee Betty recaps exactly what happened to Aunt Mildred last series.

She tells Batman that Rory is staying in New Orleans in the Latin Quarter and that Rory can help Batman get in touch with Ragman. Batman leaves abruptly and before Betty can put the photo from the Latin Quarter back in a drawer, another knock follows at the door. She opens it still holding the photo to Singleton who notices the photo, thanks her for her time and leaves.

Bats is now in New Orleans where he quickly finds criminal activity in the form of a woman being mugged, or perhaps nearly murdered, by a group of blade wielding individuals. One takes her hostage but before his blade can end her life a gust of wind envelops them...

Ragman has started protecting the Big Easy! Rory later awakens to his suit on the floor of his room, screaming at it for the predicament he finds himself in having to confront The Batman for the second time (third if you count the Brave and the Bold issue, fourth is you count Batman Family 20...I mean that was all pre-crisis so does it really count?) As a firetruck goes speeding by, Rory dons the rags again

Seeming fearful of the flames, or rather overcome briefly by the fear of the souls within his suit who are weak to flame, Batman is left to evacuate the building and face down the arsonist who started the blaze, Victor Singleton! Failing to deter Singleton physically and mentally, Rags arrives on the scene to wrap his mystic material around Victor. Singleton gets off a few frantic shots before slumping, literally lifelessly, to the floor. Before the building can go up in flames completely Ragman grabs Batman and flies him out the roof.

Not one to be deterred, Batman refuses to let go of Ragman and demands that they go back for Singleton when suddenly the visage appears of Victors face in a whisp, absorbed into a patch on Ragmans suit and sealed with the Hebrew word for truth, אמת, or rather "Emet".

And that is that.

What a wonderful story. It moved at a fast pace and the identity of Victor was revealed just as quickly, as was the travel to New Orleans by all parties involved. But forgiving that the art was wonderfully well done by David G. Klein and you really couldn't have asked for a better one and done single issue with Ragman. Well, at least not one specifically ONLY featuring him...in this Post-Crisis reality. Pre-Crisis I'd say the 'Brave and the Bold' #196 is wonderful.

I'd absolutely recommend this to someone unfamiliar with Ragman who maybe doesn't want to read a story ONLY featuring him but gives them a side step into his world by way of another familiar DCU face. There's really nothing here that leaps out as a change in continuity as a matter of fact, shout outs to the previous series by way of Aunt Mildred and Betty were a VERY welcome sight and I can ABSOLUTELY see how this is a perfect middle ground issue between the two 1990's Ragman series, especially with Robert Loren Fleming being the writer and continuing that feel of the previous series. If one day Ragman adventures are migrated to a collected edition, DC Comics would be remiss to not include this entry!

Quick shout out to Tom Grimm who goes by the handle @NomadicJaguar64 over on twitter. Tom helped me ascertain and confirm the precise meaning behind the symbol on Rory's shoulder as Singleton was absorbed into the suit. Before now we've seen the word "Emet" in the previous series but it was written in English lettering. Now we see the true Hebrew symbols! 

I never read the 'Legends of the Dark Knight' series. This is the only issue I've ever consumed. I'm not entirely certain the issue brought me any sort of curiosity for the series as a whole, but if the quality of the stories told remains the same, I'm very happy for the Batman fans who got the chance to read this as it came out!

Now for some ads!

There's NO WAY Six Flags is bigger than Disneyland right? At least not anymore. And of course I had to throw in some decidedly 90's content like the Lobo ad and the Bloodlines ad, because nothing says 90's like Bloodlines...except Knightfall and Reign of the Superman which also had ads in here. And you KNOW I couldn't avoid including that Guy Gardner quiz as a Green Lantern fan!

As you might have been able to tell, 'Cry of the Dead' coverage is coming next so keep your eyes peeled fellow Tatters and don't forget to follow the blog here or over on Twitter @TalkingRagman! Oh and if you don't do any of those AT LEAST leave a comment on the post! Those are the best to see! The adventures will continue next time in the Big Easy!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

[SPOILERS] Ragman #1 - Return Fire!

(Photo by Ragman artist Inaki Miranda)
Tatters! This is a day we've been waiting for since the 2010 Ragman Suit of Souls one-shot. DC Comics has published a new Ragman title! 'Ragman #1' is officially available for purchase today! And your's truly was graciously provided with an advance copy so I can tell all the Tatters out there whether this new 2017 take on the classic 1976 character is worth the cover price of admission!

The answer?


Now let's disqualify any notions of outside influence on this review. DC Comics did NOT tell me they'd provide me with an interview and an advance copy for this series, so long as I make sure to sing nothing but it's praises. Nor am I taking a biased approach due to my clearly well documented Ragman fandom. So, that being said, here are my unbiased, unbought opinions on the new series.




Ragman #1 is a good start for the character. Right away we open with Rory's military unit in the Israeli desert setting up his close knit brotherhood with his unit. We see him coping with civilian life in a therapy group. We see his father worried about him getting back into the world. We see his slight detachment from those around him.

Enter the Suit of Souls.

In all I feel that it's a story of purpose and reconnecting. Rory is a man torn from his brotherhood in a violent way. A way which he cannot comprehend. The horrors of his time overseas and the relative confusion he finds himself end leave him in his own head, going through the motions. Home, eat, group therapy, home, out. Nothing seems to have a sense of intent to it. But this thing he cannot explain has somehow followed him back to Gotham. Things he's seeing that he shouldn't.

So when the Suit attaches itself to him he's reunited with his unit, given a purpose. Thrust into a mission and a world which he's only caught a glimpse of previously. Hunting and dispatching this dark supernatural underbelly infecting Gotham. But when the stakes are raised to a more personal level at the end of the issue, the reader feels a sense of foggy confusion on Rory's part lifted. It doesn't matter what's happening to him now, he has a purpose.

Now let's talk about the art. Inaki Miranda KILLS it. Forget the demonic imagery or Ragman's new suit. Just the mundane looks stunning. And I have to give credit here in part to colorist Eva de la Cruz. The colors make this thing pop. From the darkened artificially lit chambers in the Israeli desert, to the fluorescent light in a largely empty group therapy room, to the multicolored light sources in Gotham itself, and the fires in the end of the issue...wow. Seriously, if you've already read the issue while reading this, go back and check out those colors again.

Back to Inaki's artwork, everything pops. I can't deny this mans talents. That being said, let's talk about the new suit. THIS is what every current Ragman fan is going to hyper focus on anyways so we need to have this conversation.

The patchwork rags are gone. The hooded cloak is gone. We're left with something vaguely reminiscent of a mummy that moves like Spawn or (for those who read it) Haunt from Image Comics. For those that miss the patchwork, calm yourself a tad and think a bit. Given how ancient this suit likely is, given the part of the world it's from, wouldn't it make MORE sense to have a suit made of strips of cloth as opposed to patchwork? Remember this is a Ragman suit which is most likely no longer made in close connection to the Golem of Prague from the 16th century or in connection with a war like portrayed in the Keith Giffen/Par Broderick series. It's OLDER than that now (and not the great collector artifact history revealed in ShadowPact #8). I like the addition of the glyph on Ragman's chest. What I'm NOT sure I like yet is the loss of the hooded cloak. Do NOT get me wrong, there were times Ragman was drawn in the past with it and I DID NOT LIKE IT. I really wasn't a fan of the sort of "tail" aspect it was drawn with on occasion. (see below)

That being said, this is only issue one. It's possible the design for the suit will evolve. Or, failing that, it's possible this is what we get and it'll just grow on me! That's entirely possible and has happened numerous times before in the past.

The bottom line? This comic is FAITHFUL. We live in a world where DC did the New 52 and Rebirth. Where things are recycled and retconned and ripped to pieces and put back together again. Where entire portions of a characters identity or personality are erased or reused and updated in a way sometimes unrecognizable to fans. And that's not just from DC! We're fortunate that this comic retains SO MUCH of what makes Ragman a fantastic character.

Ragman is a story about a veteran. A likable but subtly broken man raised in Gotham in a crappy part of a crappy town, by a pawn shop owner just trying to make the community around him better. He finds a sense of purpose in an odd suit with newfound powers and sets about making the community around him better on a larger scale. Sometimes that scale is local and personal (1976 debut series, 1992 post-Crisis series) and sometimes it's on a grander more supernatural scale (Shadowpact).

Take that pitch and break it down. It applies to the debut series, it applies to the Post-Crisis reboot, it applies to this modern re-imagining. And honestly? Can you ask for ANYTHING more?

Ragman #1 is available NOW from DC Comics at your local comic shop. Written by Ray Fawkes, art by Inaki Miranda, colors by Eva De La Cruz, lettered by Josh Reed, covers by Guillem March. Edited by Diego Lopez and Marie Javins.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

An Exclusive Interview with Ray Fawkes & Inaki Miranda!

Hey Tatters! (If you're new here, that's what I call fans of Ragman.) Welcome back! When last we spoke, I was excitedly breaking down all I could about the upcoming Ragman series from DC Comics. The series was announced, the first issue solicit was out, and some interior pages and cover art were available for us to whet our appetites with. So why so long between posts? Well, life happens, series wrap up posts take a bit to coherently write up (since we wrapped coverage of the 1991 Giffen & Broderick run), and I've been working behind the scenes to bring you something very, VERY special. 

I have been given the opportunity to speak with the creative team behind the new, upcoming 'Ragman' series from DC Comics...OFFICIALLY. That is correct. This interview is OFFICIALLY sanctioned by the powers that be at DC Comics. Now I've been extremely fortunate to interview both Pat Broderick and Sholly Fisch here on the blog before. Today we add to that esteemed interview line-up with the writer and artist behind the new 'Ragman' series, Ray Fawkes and Inaki Miranda, asking the questions that we the fans truly want to know the answers to!

(Cover Art for 'Ragman' issue #1 by Guillem March)

THE SUIT OF SOULS: Despite an on again, off again publication history, Ragman has endured since his creation in 1976. Some attribute this to his Judaic roots, others attribute it to the post-crisis supernatural power set. So Ray, I have to start by asking, what was it like taking on this obscure but beloved character?

RAY FAWKES: It’s a pure pleasure, start to finish. I’m a fan of Ragman - both the grounded street-level early stories and the more supernatural version that followed, so I wanted to make sure that we could pay tribute to both while moving forward with a new take. His cultural heritage is also very important to me, and I think that it definitely plays a part in his appeal as a hero!

TSoS: Inaki, in the series, we see Ragman with a new suit! What was that process like and what inspired you to make the changes you did?

INAKI MIRANDA: I love Ray's new premise for Ragman. I was instantly hooked by this new representation and its possibilities. However, my first reaction to the design was that I wasn’t too keen on the “patchwork” vibe of it. The mythology that Ray has come up with gives the suit a new fantastic dimension which I think was asking for a new visual look. The patches and stiches wouldn’t quite fit either the new story or the background of this new Suit of Souls.

So, I asked if I could try a new design and luckily DC said “yes”.  I wanted to make him look more like a first row superhero, one that could totally stand next to Batman and look as tough and cool as him (I know, no one is as cool as the Batman, but still…) and at the same time have his own rough distinctive aura. Of course, it was very important not to drive away from or corrupt what Ragman is at his core and all of the central elements that make him special to the fans. One of the things that Ray asked me from the start was that he wanted the rags to behave wild, showing how Rory isn’t totally controlling them.

Basically I took inspiration from all those creations that I have enjoyed, and that are part of my fan life, that play with the concept of dark hero (Batman, Soul Reaver, Darkness, Spawn.. and I even gave him a bit of a Spider-Man feel to his body language… the long bandages were just asking for that). Ragman is a powerful hero just learning how to control the suit, which has its own life and interacts with Rory through the souls it absorbs (did I mention how much I love the concept?).  So, the idea behind his new look was to play with the Suit of Souls as a live armor made from bandages. I imagine the rags being as rough as sand paper if needed, and impenetrable, he’s wearing no fabric, it’s a suit made in hell. The new suit is tactical, it’s functional. Also, I didn’t want him to look like a mummy, so the rags don’t just wrap around his body, they create an exoskeleton, they follow the logic of the human muscles (not quite but close).

I love how Ray took the design and enhanced it with logic and properties (which I won’t spoil here). I also felt Ragman deserved his own chest symbol, so I gave him one, which is really a glyph from a demonic secret alphabet. If the future is kind, it would be so cool to deepen into the story of the origin of the Suit of Souls and explain the mythological powers of this alphabet.

I’m extremely happy with what Ray and I have re-imagined together. And I’m extremely thankful to DC for the creative freedom they gave us. There’s a lot of love from all the parts involved. I hope it shows and is ultimately in benefit of the final product's enjoyment and the fans.

(Interior Pages by Inaki Miranda, CLICK TO ENLARGE)

TSoS: One of the core elements of Rory Regan's past has always been his status as a veteran. While it influenced his personality, it wasn't part and parcel with his origin. What inspired you to bring the two elements closer together into lockstep with one another?

RF: It just seems like a feature that would be very powerful in his life- a real defining factor. I also wanted to write a story about heroism in the face of trauma, and Rory’s veteran status gave us a perfect route to address that. Rory is selfless at heart - that’s why he served in the military, that’s why he’s a hero even before he gets his hands on the Cloak of Rags, and that’s why he becomes a superhero.

TSoS: Between the Israeli desert and all of the symbolism in the book, the Rags N' Tatter shop, the demonic creatures, and Gotham City itself Inaki, you have a TON of artistic setting to play around with! What's it like for you working on this title when you're playing in all of these various sandboxes?

IM: Gotham is the first reason I wanted to start working on the book as soon as possible. It must be my favorite fictional place of all time. I could spend my whole career drawing stories in Gotham. I think the dark atmosphere is perfect for Ragman. There are a lot of settings in the book, but what’s even cooler is that they all feel very integrated, it’s Gotham, but more importantly, it’s Ragman’s world. A demonic dimension is invading Gotham…Ragman is able to see things that aren’t there for a normal human being. I think that’s really cool. This is something that readers will have to figure out by themselves. “What is there only for Rory’s eyes?”, there’s an open interpretation there, and we play with this concept a little.  Then there’s the color green, Eva did a wonderful job by giving the book (and the character) a personality, tying Rory’s past scenes to the present Ragman through the use of greens. And the neon signs on Gotham are just too cool.

TSoS: What we've seen so far echoes faithfully so many elements of the Ragman everyone knows and loves! So before we wrap up, what can fans look forward to going forward into the series?

RF: Fans can look forward to an action-packed battle against great evil spirits, with our Rory right at the centre, helped by some other DC favourites! As Ragman, he's going to show them all what true heroism really means!

IM: This is an origin story, so readers will follow Ragman through his own “path of the hero”, which will mean discovering new powers and possibilities regarding the suit. And also, a couple of cool DC characters will join the show and will make everything even cooler. Oh, and they can also expect Ragman to rock and be fighting for his life in every issue. It’s relentless. Ultimately, I hope they can experience the same fun we had creating the book.

And that, as they say, is that! Thank you so very much to Ray Fawkes, Inaki Miranda, and DC Comics! It's extremely flattering to be given this opportunity. There is so much to unpack here in this inteview but I really don't want to clutter up this post with my own thoughts.

In the meantime, let's hear YOUR thoughts! Be sure to leave a comment below and tell me what YOU think about the upcoming series and what you're excited for! Ragman is a fantastic character and if you like the series, be sure to tell everyone to pick it up! And let DC Comics know, "We want more Ragman!!" That's all for now Tatters!

Ragman #1 is available starting on October 11th, 2017 from DC Comics, written by Ray Fawkes with art by Inaki Miranda and covers by Guillem March! 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

BREAKING NEWS BREAKDOWN - 'Ragman' to Return to the Pages of DC Comics this October 2017!

Good day Tatters!

As you’ve probably already heard, DC Comics will be bringing their live action star and Tatterdemalion of justice back to the comic page in a six issue mini-series due out this October! The series will be written by Ray Fawkes with pencils by Inaki Miranda, colors by Eva de la Cruz, and covers by Guillem March. (You can see the first cover here on this post!)

The press release, initially shown HERE by Comic Book Resources, provided the following description:

War vet Rory Regan is plagued by the death of his time after a failed mission to find a hidden treasure in the Israeli desert. While battling survivor’s guilt back home in Gotham City, Regan discovers that he actually bought the treasure back home with him, in the form of the Suit of Souls. The Suit of Souls has the ability to trap and collect the souls of others, including those of his dead partners.

With the aid of his dead teammates, Rory begins to learn more about the abilities of the suit, when something evil begins to brew in Gotham. An evil demon from hell wants the Suit of Souls, and is sending his minions to retrieve it for him. Now Rory must learn how to use the suit and its powers to stop these evil forces from invading Gotham City before it’s too late.

Since this is THE spot on the net for all things Ragman, it would be my duty to dissect that for us! Let’s start with the first four words. Yep, it’s going to be like that.

War vet Rory Regan” - Perfect. We know we’re sticking with our usual guy Rory! This isn’t his father Gerry or anyone else from the Regan family nor is it anyone new. Additionally, Rory is still a veteran. Based on what we hear later on in the description, we know it’s not Vietnam as has been portrayed before, but when you’re updating the Ragman character for the modern generation, the specific war isn’t necessarily as important as the fact that he’s a soldier.

…is plagued by the death of his time (I assume they mean ‘team’, is the whole world running low on editors BTW?) after a failed mission to find a hidden treasure in the Israeli desert.” Some good information here. In the first post-crisis Ragman series, Rory was struggling with some PTSD issues. They weren’t a huge part of the story, but Pat Broderick and Keith Giffen took up some panels to make sure it was a part of his character. Additionally, we get the “hidden treasure in the Israeli desert”. Keep that in mind.

While battling survivor’s guilt back in Gotham City, Regan discovers that he actually brought the treasure back home with him, in the form of the Suit of Souls.” We’re back in Gotham! Fantastic! I’ve always loved the idea that Ragman is a Gotham based hero. Batman started out protecting Gotham but let’s admit it, Batmans focus is now much more big picture these days. Having Rory start out in a little slum corner of Gotham grounds him in a very realistic way. I’m glad that is staying a part of his origins. So the “treasure in the Israeli desert” is the Suit of Souls! This means two things. The first being that the Ragman suit is no longer a part of Rory’s family history. In the comics before this, Rorys father Gerry wore the suit before Rory ever knew it existed. The second thing it means is that it’s still very likely that the suit maintains it’s mythological Judaic origins in relation to it’s creation following the legendary Golem. Even if the sequence of events of the suits origin may be tweaked, I know a lot of Ragman fans enjoy the Judaic ties the character has.

The Suit of Souls has the ability to trap and collect the souls of others, including those of his dead partners.” Hmm, ok here we run across something I’m not entirely sure I’m going to like. The suit can trap and collect the souls of MORE than just evil doers now. It can trap ANY soul it sounds like. Now on the one hand, that opens up some story telling potential in a significant way without changing the core powers of the character. On the other, it makes the suit of souls dangerous and malignant in a way I’m not sure I’ll enjoy. But here’s what I will keep in mind going forward (and you should too) it’s a suit worn by an individual. I’m going to take solace in the idea that Rory can then influence who it traps going forward.

With the aid of his dead teammates, Rory begins to learn more about the abilities of the suit, when something evil begins to brew in Gotham.” Nice. So it looks like Rory can still communicate with the souls in the suit. That was always a fun aspect of the story to have Rory able to gain insight from the souls. Additionally, Rory was able to call on their strengths and abilities too in the past. It remains to be seen if that will remain true.

An evil demon from hell wants the Suit of Souls, and is sending his minions to retrieve it for him.” Interesting. Certainly the encounters with the purely supernatural went through the roof for Ragman during his ties to the Shadowpact. So it’s definitely not out of left field for him to deal with a problem like this. I’m curious to see how it affects the tone of the story. Will it maintain a purely supernatural tone? Or will the inclusion of demons from hell give it a horror bent?

Now Rory must learn how to use the suit and its powers to stop these evil forces from invading Gotham City before it’s too late.” Nice. That’s our hero line. Origin story plus heroic mission. I wonder also at the involvement any other DC character will play in the story. While cameos like Batman or someone from the Bat family are cool (and DC can’t seem to not mention Gotham without them these days) I would still like an opportunity for Ragman’s story to stand on it’s own without the added push from “Oh! Batman shows up this issue guys! Make sure to get it!”. But again, that hasn’t been announced so let’s judge it on it’s own merits.

Speaking of the story itself, DC released some interior pages (sans lettering) for us to take in, so let’s take a look at those! (Click images to enlarge!)

Excellent! Rags N’ Tatters guys! It’s still there! And that definitely looks like Hebrew on the box they find the Suit of Souls in!

All in all, based solely on this description, it sounds like Rory Regan/Ragman are in good and faithful hands. The adaptations being made are not being made at the sacrifice of an important character aspect or history. I cannot be happier with what we’re seeing so far!

So head on over to Twitter and follow the creative team @rayfawkes and @InakiMiranda and give them some much needed support! And don’t forget to buy the series everywhere you can in October! Tell DC how much you love their Tatterdemalion and vote with your dollars! Don't forget to comment here DIRECTLY on the post! The more traction we get, the more likely we can get Ray Fawkes and Inaki Miranda here for an interview when the series wraps! (Or before if we're lucky!) So share the post far and wide too!