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!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ragman #1 - Bones of the Defenseless!

Well, well my friends. We meet again. This time around we're done with the random "one off" appearances for a bit. Now we've OFFICIALLY moved on to what's known as the "Post Crisis" Ragman!

*pause for fanfare*

That's right folks. We're about to enter the era of Ragman where things went from simply "odd" to SUPERNATURAL. When Ragman was no longer just the tatterdemalion of justice, but the wearer of the suit of souls (from which this blog derives its name). But I'm getting ahead of myself.

This eight issue mini-series was written by Keith Giffen with art by Pat Broderick. Now, normally I would hold my opinions on the art for during the actual review, or in the wrap-up at the end. In this case, I wanted to get in front of what some of you may consider negativity regarding the art.

Pat Broderick is responsible for the art on a great many things I enjoy such as Firestorm and Green Lantern. I've encountered early Pat Broderick artwork; I've encountered later Pat Broderick artwork. I've enjoyed it all. That being said...

The art in this series suffers. NOT from Pat's efforts, but because of the confines in which Pat was working. Let me explain, this series is presented to the reader in a 9 panel 'grid' layout per page in rows of three. This layout gave Pat small panels in which to place his artwork. It didn't always come off so well. Again, that's not a criticism of Pats work, but a commentary on the confines to which he was restricted.

I've debated about leaving out those thoughts for the sake of not sounding negative about one of my favorite artists. But I want to strive to be always honest with you guys. The honest truth is the 9 panel grid layout hurt the look of this book. When we get to the few splash pages, you'll notice the difference immediately.

Moving on.

We open with Rory in the throes of a nightmare where he is a solider carrying the body of his friend, Rory Regan, through the streets of war torn Gotham. Suddenly he wakes up and we get a brief but appropriate introduction to this character and his history. The back-story here is pretty much the same. Rory is a veteran and his father is a junkman who just won't let the place go.

Outside of 'Rags N' Tatters' a 'Boss' and a hood named one-shot plot and scheme about the apparent plans to convert the junk shop into a drug front...while the plot itself is fairly standard and obviously meant to inspire some dread, I can't help but snicker to myself just a little, particularly because the "boss" looks like Jimmy Olson to me. And who can be scared of Jimmy Olson? lol

Then a page turn and we're quickly introduced to Jerry Regan (Rory's father) and (UGH!) Bette Berg.

Seriously, the ONLY bad thing about the original Ragman series was what a COMPLETE...well, I've said it before, Bette was and now shes BACK?! Needless to say when I read that, I was a bit perturbed. It felt a bit like karma though to have her homeless and broke. Like the powers that be (in the DCU, not in the REAL world) were reconfiguring the cosmos after Crisis and got to Bette and said, "Well, this woman is terrible. How can we screw up her life? Oh I've got it!"

With the players now on the board, we're into the story. One thing I like is that Rory is still portrayed as a man following his fathers moral "code".

Granted, Rory it seems, is a little weary of the whole process and more than a little unconvinced at it's value, but the man does it anyways. That's got to be worth something.

Suddenly his father comes in beaten and bloody...

The whole "It's up to YOU Rory" theme is pretty prominent in this issue actually. Rory hears it in his dreams and experiences it first hand (like he does here) during the whole tale. We cut back to the BIG boss making plans to get rid of the Regan boys once and for all, then back to Rory as his father falls asleep. Rory thinks, "Right. I'm gonna die defending a junkyard. If those guys want to turn this dump into a coke house so bad, let 'em! I'll sell it to them! Then they'll be sorry. Pop'll just have to understand. I've been trapped here long enough..." and then goes to bed.

While he's sleeping (and again dreaming of war) one-shot and big bad Jimmy Olson (who's real name is Vorst, but I insist on calling Jimmy just because it makes me giggle) sneak into the junk shop and kill Rory's father and beat Rory half to death. Rory slips back into his 'dream war' and it's here that the word 'EMET' first pops up. Rory slides in and out of consciousness and then slips fully into his dream state. Now, I know I've already posted a lot of panels from this ONE issue, but I'm going to post the following two pages in their entirety just so you get the feel of how the 9 panel layout CAN be used properly, for a more cinematic feel...

Rory then wakes up to Bette shaking him awake. Apparently four weeks have passed. Bette found him and brought him to a doctor who stitched him up. Rory is then informed of his fathers death and goes to visit his tombstone.Rory then returns to his neighborhood to seemingly gather intelligence on what's been going on in his fathers shop while he was unconscious.

Supposedly members of 'Jimmy's' organization gained control of the place by posing as Rory's aunt and uncle. The place is now a front for drugs. The next day, while out for a run in the snow, Rory thinks on the meaning of his dreams and comes to the conclusion that it really is all up to him and he must follow his instincts wherever they lead. He goes back to the doctor and Bette to inform them of this (they obviously disagree) and then strikes out into the night on his own in a ski mask.

As his faux aunt and uncle go to sleep, Rory begins to break into 'Rags N' Tatters' only to find a new alarm system has been installed...when suddenly he notices a glint in the darkness out of the corner of his eye. He crawls towards it, pulling a box out from amidst the junk. Opening it he discovers it's full of...RAGS?

And that, as they say, is that. Now on to the most important question: Why, of all the 'retcons' that could have been made to Ragman, did they choose to root his mythos in Jewish lore?

The answer is: I don't know.

The letters pages hint at upcoming explanations, but I have all of the issues and I have yet to see it. But, fear not dear reader. I'm attempting to reach out to both Keith and Pat to get an interview to ask all of the questions we ALL have. Whether or not the interview happens is up to DC Comics. But I'm trying my friends.

Personally? I like the change. Granted, I've never known Ragman outside of the suit of soul’s concept. And I didn't start reading comics until about 5 years ago. But, having read the original series, I can understand needing to breath new life into this character. Now that is not a condemnation of Kanigher, Kubert or the Redondo studio. It's more of a commentary on who Ragman was.

Ragman was a costumed vigilante in an impoverished section of Gotham fighting against local corruption. Now, Gotham is HUGE. Batman can't do it all. Another vigilante fighting against Gotham’s influence could have all types of adventures. But he didn't have Bruce’s money, he was (seemingly) restricted to a certain section of Gotham, and his powers came from an ambiguous place (electrical wire influenced transition). There were many stories that could have been told with the pre-Crisis Ragman. But eventually those stories would run out fast without drastically changing SOMETHING.

Making Ragman a supernatural character added that something.

Now the origin of the suit will come later in the series. We'll get to it. I know it, and maybe you do too, but let's take it issue by issue.

And, while we wait for the issue two reviews, enjoy (as always) some classic 90's comic ads!

Don't forget to like, comment and share the content on this blog! We Ragman fans are a small group, so we can't afford to not try and build a community devoted to the Ragman! Thanks for reading and tell your friends! See you next time!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Infinity INC. #22 - Uncivil Wars!


I'm back. No excuses or long winded stories. Suffice it to say that life happened and now I'm back.

Onward and upward!

Alright THIS time out we've got a whale of a tale for you! And I don't mean whale as in size. More of in the tradition of 'Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy'...

...by that I mean: "utterly pointless."

Anywho. Remember Crisis? Yeah that big DC event that took place somewhere in the mid 80's and made things crazysauce for a little while? Well, before it was all said and done with, Ragman made at least ONE more appearance before the end.

Oddly enough, this appearance came in the pages of 'Infinity INC.' #22.

Rags didn't have a thing to say in the issue and barely even appeared. But he was THERE and that's ALL that matters to this tracker of the Tatterdemalion!

Now according to some sources this is a hard and fast Ragman appearance and others call it a Spectre appearance. I'm going to obviously go with the former and I'll explain why. Two reasons is all I need:

1) When it came to crowd shots during Crisis, the artists of various tie-ins liked to maintain the scene from the main Crisis issue/panel/double page spread. I say that for this reason: remember this panel from Crisis #5?

Note the three characters right next to Ragman. Jonni Thunder (white suit), Star-Spangled Kid and Wonder Girl. When you get to 'Infinity INC' #22, note who is around Ragman yet again.

2) If you read Crisis at all, Spectre didn't get involved until right about...

Oh yeah. There. And he and the other mystical, magical, ghostly characters were just puttering about before then taking in the sights and not in other places...like crowded asses to elbows in a spaceship with other heroes and villains.

So you see? That HAS to be Ragman because it sure as heck ain't the Spectre.

Now what about the rest of the issue? Well, honestly it's just a close up of the confusion that characters are experiencing as a result of suddenly appearing on the Monitors satellite. But since you asked nicely, here are my favorite moments...

First up we've got a duo of awesomeness: Plastic Man and Elongated Man goof off in the background AND Starfire catches the gaze of yet ANOTHER man...

Next up we've got a member of the Helix team (Arak) with a SICK taste in music (hey, it matches MY tastes)...

And then, from the page that brought you a Ragman appearance, we've got a character who's relentless pursuit of women might rival that of the (still to come at this point) adolescent clone Superboy! No seriously, Star-Spangled Kid just DOESN'T stop. But hey, Wonder Girl IS pretty freakin hot. Married or not.

And last but not least, a Scott family team up fight against Solomon Grundy! Hey, I'm a Green Lantern fan remember? How could I NOT showcase a fight between Grundy, Alan, Todd and Jade? Too good to be true and yet here it is!!!

And that's all folks!

Well, not quite. The second half of this issue is some off the wall story about a version of Dr. Midnight and Hourman that I've never heard of in my entire life and, quite honestly, couldn't force myself to read. For all I know these are the best, most underused characters in all of DC comics (second to Ragman of course) but I couldn't care less. So I didn't read it. Sorry.

But that concludes this appearance. Honestly I wish I could have given you more here. 'All Star Squadron'/'Infinity INC.' are two series that I WISH I had every issue to. I've been wanting to read those stories ever since I got into comics, but somehow never found a single issue. I'd love to be a walking encyclopedia on these stories and characters but I've got nothing for you. Maybe someday I'll finally get my comics wish and have the entire run. Here's hoping...

So thats it for this time! Don't forget to comment, share, tweet, etc. this post and join/follow the blog! Ragman needs all the help he can get and showing your support for his home on the internet is definitely a good place to start! Comments are epic because it lets me know you guys are out there and interested and sharing spreads the word! So run the full gambit and go nuts! See you guys next time!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Red Tornado #3 - Eye of the Storm!

During the massive DC event "Crisis on Infinite Earths" our favorite Tatterdemalion of Justice made a small handful of other appearances (besides Crisis itself). One of those appearances was in the Red Tornado four issue mini-series from 1985 written by Kurt Busiek with art by the great Carmine Infantino.

Yeah I know, obscure character A showing up in obscure character B's mini series DURING Crisis?! What insanity!

Truth be told, I have no special love for the character of Red Tornado (or Reddy as fans and even some DC characters call him). I don't hate the guy, but androids have never really been my thing. Same with Vision over at Marvel. Just not my thing. But, luckily for you, I found someone who IS a huge fan of Reddy! In fact, he runs a blog about the guy!

So rather than expose you to me struggling halfheartedly to fake some passion for this mini series (which has nothing at all to do with the quality of the story), and then forcing you to read my uninteresting dispassionate re-cap, I decided to shirk my responsibility altogether and extend an invite to someone who DOES have excitement for this mini-series and can absolutely give you more info on it than I could! Doug Zawisza from the Red Tornado blog know as Ulthoon!

Take it away Doug!

"A little while ago, I was invited to appear on the Fire and Water Podcast and graciously accepted the offer from awesome co-hosts Rob Kelly and the Irredeemable Shag. We talked about “Justice League of America” #192 and 193 from 1981. Those were among the first comics I bought with my hard-earned allowance. They also empowered me to discovering comic book universes for myself rather than relying on others to guide me.

Shortly after that conversation, I received a lovely invitation from this blog’s esteemed host, Chad Bokelman. Chad reached out to me and issue me a challenge: talk about Ragman’s appearance in the Red Tornado miniseries. The first Red Tornado miniseries. Written by Kurt Busiek. With art by Carmine Infantino. Do the sentence fragments make it any more dramatic for you? They do for me.

Think about this for a moment: a guy who runs a blog about Ragman asked a guy who has a Red Tornado blog for a few thoughts about the former’s appearance in the latter’s first miniseries. Yeah. It hurts my head too. Neither of us has been able to celebrate our characters making anything resembling regular appearances in comics since 2011. Yes, admittedly it seems like there might be some Red Tornado goodness coming soon, but for now: no Red Tornado and no Ragman.

But we DO have back issues!

I will say this, though: Ragman is one of those “Who is THAT guy?!” characters. I first encountered Rory Reagan – and had no idea who he is – among the ocean of characters aboard the Monitor’s satellite in “Crisis on Infinite Earths” #5. Yes, the very same, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” #5 that Chad blogged about just under a month ago. At this point in “Crisis,” I recognized a few characters, but there were far more I did not. Ragman stood out to me as he was moving across the spread, one of very few characters the great George Pérez chose to put in motion. So much awesomeness was in the comic book for me. So much, as it opened with Red Tornado being tormented by an off-panel voice. Flash tried to defend Reddy, but to no avail. Most importantly, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” #5 sparked my enthusiasm to learn more about the DC Universe.

I would later learn much more about Ragman through his adventures with Batman in “Brave and the Bold” and even in his own 1991 miniseries. Somewhere in between I would discover the Joe Kubert-Robert Kanigher series from 1976 and rejoice in its artistry.

But that’s neither here nor there. Chad asked me for some thoughts on Ragman’s appearance in the Red Tornado miniseries. He showed up for a panel. The end.

(click to enlarge)

The first issue of “Red Tornado” hit in April of 1985 and boasted a cover of Superman threatening some serious harm on Reddy. While the series came out around the same time as “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” like “The Shadow War of Hawkman” it chose to tell its own tale, rather than get wrapped up in the events of “Crisis.” Naturally, all of that would lead to disaster later on, but for the sake of the series, it allowed Kurt Busiek to tell his Red Tornado tale and Carmine Infantino to draw it in all of his angular awesomeness. As for the consequences it would bring to Hawkman, that’s another story for another time and place.

I wasn’t a big fan of Infantino’s art back then. He’s an acquired taste, like beer, especially if you’re more accustomed to artwork in the style of George Pérez or John Byrne. To a certain extent, I see the rationale behind having Infantino work on this series, but his choices for drawing technology still leave something to be desired.

 The Red Tornado miniseries pulled the Construct out of mothballs and set him against the world. As the only machine immune to the Construct’s control, Red Tornado had to be dealt with otherwise. Through available technology, the Construct was able to briefly control the Justice League of America long enough for them to expel Red Tornado and sow the seeds of doubt in the android’s circuits. From there conquest awaited the Construct. Along the way he would possess humans, further expanding his hold on the world leading to a climatic battle with Red Tornado.

Red Tornado #3, however, gave the heroes of the DC Universe a chance to battle the Construct, including the two-page spread where Ragman shows up. In that image, with Green Lantern, Flash, Superman, Batman and more fighting alongside him, Ragman is the only character capable of actually destroying any of the Construct’s drones. For me, that solidified the character’s validity and piqued my curiosity all the more when I found this character again, crossing the sea of humanity on-board the Monitor’s satellite. Unfortunately, this plot thread is left dangling in the Red Tornado miniseries. The Construct (spoilers!) is eventually defeated and humanity returned to normal, but Busiek and Infantino never circle back around to this scene, which would have been a beautiful piece o closure.

Hindsight being twenty-twenty, we can call for that conclusion now, but at the time Kurt Busiek was keen on giving the Red Tornado a new life to grow into. Ragman would have to find his own way home and his own series to star in.

Thanks, Chad, for giving me this chance to chat up one of my favorite characters in Red Tornado while drawing a quick connection to Rory Reagan in the meantime."

Absolutely Doug. Thanks for taking a moment to breathe some life into that old rusted bucket of bolts. haha! All kidding aside folks, alot of us DC bloggers like to refer to out little community as the "Justice League of Bloggers". There's a very simple reason for it, a mantra if you will, "Every character deserves to have their own blog dedicated to them."

Not everyone is a huge fan of Red Tornado (myself included) but I firmly believe every character deserves their spotlight and to have it be positive wherever possible. So thanks to Doug for educating my readers on Reddy and sharing his passion for the character.

Well, my work here is done folks. Any more rambling and I might end up trying to upstage Doug! lol In the meantime, go on and share, follow/join, like and comment on this entry and all others here at the Suit of Souls blog! Comments are my absolute favorite as it lets me know what you folks are thinking!

Next review we get one final "Crisis" era appearance before we move on to Post Crisis Ragman! (I'm pretty sure, I'll be sure to research more just in case I missed something) Anyone venture a guess as to what comic that appearance was in? (NO SEARCH ENGINES!)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Crisis On Infinite Earths #5 - Worlds in Limbo!

Twenty eight years ago, there was an event that destroyed universes. Entire universes, every galaxy, every solar system, every planet and every being was destroyed by a white wall of anti-matter. When one universe was destroyed, anothers destruction began...all at the hands of the being known as the Anti-Monitor.

At least, in DC comics that is. Twenty eight years ago DC comics set about attempting to rectify a "convoluted" line of continuity for its characters. As fun of a concept as alternate universes was, and as thrilling as unbridled creative story telling was, DC got it in their head that their universe was just too confusing. So they set about trying to change all of that.

They concocted a story called "Crisis on Infinite Earths". Crisis (as it would come to be known)  was a 12 issue series that ran alongside the series called "Who's Who in the DC Universe" (which, ironically, set about to attempt to supply a history for their characters set in stone). But, focusing on Crisis, the story was meant to "fix" the errors in DC continuity...merging the alternate universes and characters into ONE universe.

The breakdown for those unfamiliar is as follows: Long ago on a planet called Maltus (or Oa, can't specifically remember, doesn't matter) a race of beings that would come to be known as the Guardians existed. One of these beings, Krona, became obsessed with discovering the beginning of all things. This knowledge was long considered to be forbidden among his race, but Krona pushed on anyways. He built a device that allowed him to see into the past and he pushed his device until he saw the very beginning...

That bolt rippled throughout the cosmos and created the Multiverse, a nearly endless expanse of alternate universes...and one universe of pure anti-matter...appropriately deemed the anti-matter universe. On the moon of Oa, a creature was born known as the Monitor. The Monitor drew his power from the existence of the amount of positive matter universes in existence. Similarly, on the anti-matter universe side, Oa's sister planet Qwards moon birthed a similar creature...the Anti-Monitor. Whose power was drawn from the existence of Anti-Matter. They fought until their fighting brought about an extended slumber.

Eons passed and something happened to awaken them. (I know what it was but seriously this is a complicated story) The Anti-Monitor set about destroying universes with anti-matter to increase his own power, while at the same time sapping his brothers. But, before the Monitor could die, he banded about a group of heroes to protect what was left of the multiverse. After multiple attempts, the Anti-Monitor was defeated...but not before all of the remaining reality and timelines from a handful of alternate earths were merged into one. (that is a VERY watered down explanation of the events in this historic series, but you get the gist)

One of the cool things Crisis did was feature, at least once, every single character the DC universe had in its arsenal at the time...Ragman was no exception.

Remember how I said that it took a few attempts to defeat the Anti-Monitor? Well, in one of the gatherings to plot the defeat of the Anti-Montior and his plans...there Ragman stood...

(click to enlarge)

Can't find him? Aww come on! Nobody wants to play "Where's Ragman"?

Eh fine...

Now, he didn't have anything to do with the Crisis story...BUT he was there. Oh well. Props for appearing in a massive part of DC Comics history I suppose...

AND he DID appear on the Alex Ross cover specifically made for the collected edition of Crisis...

(click to enlarge)

Ok, ok, he's hard to spot here. I'll help ya out...

So that's the Ragman appearance in Crisis (appearances I guess). Ragman had more appearances around the time of the Crisis, but that's for another time and blog entry. But here's just a little sneak peak/hint as to what is to come...

(click to enlarge)
Don't forget to comment, like, share and follow/join the content on this blog! Always happy and thrilled to receive new and old fans of Ragman! And comments specifically are always a thrill! Special thanks to Diabolu Frank (fellow blogger and author of the 'Idol Head of Diabolu' blog and many others) for his recent comments. They did not go unnoticed or under appreciated!

(PS: For those of you who love the Crisis, I encourage you to read this extensive document by a friend of mine and fellow podcaster Adam Murdough. Adam possesses an expansive knowledge of the comics genre and the DC Universe and, in fact, wrote his college thesis on Crisis. The man is an encyclopedia DC Universia. You can read it by clicking HERE.)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Brave and the Bold #196 - The Two Faces of Midnight!

...And we're back! With yet another SCATHING and SCINTILLATING review of Ragman!

Ok, ok. I suppose I still owe a bit of an apology to you fine folks for the "meh" review last time. But really? It was a "meh" comic, so what do you expect? This one however? This one is no such thing. AND it's a full issue story! WOO-HOO!

That's right kiddies, as you can probably tell, I shall be reviewing 'Brave and the Bold #196' from 1983. The REAL team-up issue between Bats and Rags! It's a beautiful story and, before we even GET to the plot itself, I can tell you why.

The creative team is, as the kids say, 'totes' amazing. Not only is the whole thing being supervised and edited by the incomparable Len Wein, not only is the INCREDIBLE Jim Aparo masterfully applying his skills to the art but Robert Kanigher has returned to pen the story of the character he helped create! So this reads like just another Ragman story from the original 70's series, plus Batman and with even HIGHER quality artwork! How can you possibly go wrong? Thank god the story lived up to expectations, cause I would have been shattered if it sucked.

We open on Ragman wandering the streets at exactly midnight (hey, the clock pictured in the comic says so!) as our first perspective in the story isn't Rags, it's a newspaper dancing on the wind. Here, I'll show you...

Love that. Perfect opening and you can TELL Kanigher is back when you read such lilting and vivid introductory text.

Anywho, the headline tells us of the recent terrorist kidnapping of Nina Norwood, the daughter of the tycoon of a publishing empire. Suddenly an explosion rocks the night just above Ragman as Batman comes sailing out the window and, losing consciousness, plummets into the quick thinking arms of Ragman and (as the panel itself states)...

There is no rest for the weary (or unconscious & surprised) as suddenly the terrorists (known as the DFD "Dynamiters for Democracy") come peeling out of the night to finish the job, hurling good old fashioned molotov cocktails at the dark duo. Quick thinking Ragman takes stock of the situation, catches the next flaming cocktail one handed and hurls it back at the speeding car, causing it to burst into flames and explode.

The danger addressed and averted, Ragman focuses again on Batman and getting him off the streets when suddenly a ride appears before him in the form of an ebony angel...

After collecting her fare, a kiss from Rags, Opal heads back off into the night as Ragman hoists Batman into the back of a junked car in the back lot of Rags 'N' Tatters. It's at this point that we're given a look at the history of Ragman from Rorys time in Vietnam to the thugs that killed Rory's father and his friends. One instance of note however is that there is a slight retcon that takes place. In the original story, Rorys father and his friends found the money in the mattress and left it there, the money later burned in the final issue of the original series. In THIS story, however, they take it out of the mattress and hide it elsewhere (we know not where). I find it odd that the creator of the original series would choose to change this aspect of the story. He also takes this opportunity to make Better just a little bit LESS of a bitch. (only a little)

But anywho, as Rags is helping Batman into the car, Bats comes to and relays the experiences leading up to the abrupt and fiery exit out the window. Apparently Bats was trailing the DFD and they had a hidden trip wire where they lured Batman. Trying to escape the blast, Bats leaped out and here we are. As Batman finishes his story, a car stopping outside the junkyard is heard and Batman starts to get to his feet...

Odd that here yet another retcon takes place. In the stagnant review I gave of Ragmans last appearance in 'Batman Family #20', Batman figured out Ragmans identity. But here it seems he has no knowledge of this fact. Turns out the sound we heard was Bette looking for Rory, she tells Ragman that shes been given a tip and wants Rory to accompany her so the story will help him get a job at the paper she works at. Ragman says he'll be there and disappears.

Batman wants to go to check the place that the DFD booby-trapped for clues. Ragman disagrees and Batman says he has to go because he'll be the bait that lures them out of hiding. Ragman insists and they compromise by switching costumes. So Rory runs off into the night dressed as Batman. He arrives and stakes the place out when three DFD members begin shooting at him and one tosses a grenade, Rory gets to a safe distance, but is still shaken up when he comes back to the junk yard and collapses into "Ragman" (Bruce's) arms.

So off Bruce goes to the rooftop rendezvous and a DFD plan set 48 hours from now is overheard, but not before "Ragman" gets a gun stuck to his head and Bruce overcomes him and takes him out and goes over the side of the building along with a grenade wielding terrorist. Ragman comes out ok and makes it back to the junkyard where they switch costumes again and agree to meet the following night, but not before Bats makes an interesting comment...

The next night the duo are waiting for the DFD when they show up to rob a bank, Bats and Rags foil the robbery, but realize that one of the "robbers" is actually the missing Nina Norwood!

After seeing this, Ragman and Batman go crazy and start kicking all kinds of ass. Batman carries Nina to the hospital with Ragman close on his heels...

And there you go! Now you may think I lost my wind in those final pages of review, and that's partly true, but mostly I just think the art and the dialogue speak for themselves on those last few pages, so why get in the way?

I love the minor retcons, especially BY the guy who created the original story. And I thought it was cool how they added in some references to how Ragmans costume is "almost alive" and "eerie". I can't help but think the idea to make the costume more supernatural was in the works and they were eluding to that.

Overall great story and Jim Aparo is unmatched. Loved having his artistic flair being a part of the Ragman history.

Now, classic Ragman reviews are nothing to you all at this point without classic ads, so I may as well deliver! Check out these gems! (click to enlarge)

So there you have it! Be sure to check back here next weekend for more Ragman awesomesauce (and maybe a surprise or two). Please, Please, PLEASE share the blog, comment below and follow/join the site to keep apprised of all things Ragman! I don't, as of yet, get much feedback on this blog but I'm hoping that will change but it can't without YOU! See ya next time!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Batman Family #20 - Enter the Ragman!

Alright, I suppose I owe you guys an apology. I'm a little late (OK, A LOT late) in this posting. I really do want to maintain a constant posting schedule. So why the super late post? Well, aside from personal demons, I just could not get it up for this "issue". I really and truly haven't the faintest clue why. The art isn't bad and the story isn't terrible. I just couldn't have cared less about this story.

But, I realized that, in my endeavor to cover all Ragman appearances, I'm probably going to come across some stuff I will not like. so I better get used to it and stick to my guns. Which is what I'll do here.

Now, that being said, I LOVE the cover to this issue. This issue of course being 'Batman Family' #20, the final issue of the anthology. Now, I'd like to pretend I know everything there is to know about the stuff I cover on this blog but the fact is that I don't. I know nothing about the 'Batman Family' title other than what I've heard from other fans. A few of them are quite vocal as to it's quality. I'll take their word for it. Regardless, this story took place in the last issue of the title and it seems they chose the return of Ragman to be a big enough deal to herald it on the cover.

Now THAT is some gorgeous Jim Starlin artwork. I just love the fact that the cover confrontation featuring the return of the Ragman...takes place in a junkyard. Nice little nod there. But, on to the story itself.

The story opens with Batman going all...well...Batman on some thugs looting a tenement. As the text informs us, they provide barely a workout for the caped crusader, but he takes them on regardless. After laying them out, he radios Gotham P.D.

Meanwhile, after the cops arrive, amongst a crowd of onlookers stands Rory and Bette. As Bette lines up a shot of the recently foiled looters, a man in the crowd bumps into her, throwing off the focus of her photo. Batman, all the while overlooking these proceedings, notices this and concludes the bump was purposeful thus alerting his curiosity. Our story follows Rory and Bette back to Rags 'N' Tatters and into a selfmade darkroom to develop the photographs. Via the art of exposition we learn that Bette is freelancing with Rorys help. Their story? How the local area is being neglected and turned into slums. They're hoping to "sell" the story to a paper called "The Blade"...all of which Batman overhears and plans to assist by placing a call to the editor as Bruce Wayne.

Cut to Bruce telling Gordon whats going on and updates him on HOW he came across those thugs. Apparently, while darting about the street in the Batmobile (which looks like a Porsche and nothing more) Batman nearly side swiped an entire family. Turns out, after talking to them, they were forced out of their homes, so Batman took it upon himself to go take care of the thugs that forced them out...

See? That's one Batman constant I've always enjoyed. The reaction of people when Batman just disappears on them. I have no idea why it amuses me so, but it does.

Anywho, we flash on over to the boss of the thugs forcing people out of their homes (please, there's ALWAYS a boss) then over to Rory looking over some "circumstantial but unmistakeable" pattern to the events he and Bette are covering. He heads back to Rags 'N' Tatters and discovers Bette's been beaten half to shit.

 Rory hears her story and tells her to go home and rest up (not, you know, to a freakin hospital) and that he'll take care of the rest. It's only now that the reader becomes privy to the secret history of the Ragman (that we all know by now) as the story recaps for us briefly. Then we move back over to the Batman side of things as Bruce is getting ready for a night on the town. He notices something in the yard and quickly changes back into Batman when suddenly (and according to plan) Alfred floods the yard in spotlights and the Ragman and Batman come face to face for the first time...

Rags reveals to Bats that he's actually after Bruce Wayne. Apparently Rory has learned that Bruce owns the land all of the affected buildings stand on. Bruce being the common link leads to Rory believing that he is responsible. Batman attempts to explain that they ARE owned by the Wayne Foundation, but managed by an outside agency. Rory will have none of this, punches Batman and escapes, but not before Bats discovers that Rory and Ragman are one and the same (apparently by just recognizing his voice).

Rory goes after the "boss" and breaks in on him and his cronies in the middle of a (surprise surprise) card game and takes them out. Batman joins in and explains how the original managing operation was taken over by thugs so Bruce really ISN'T responsible after all. They realize the "boss" has escaped out the back door and decide to team up to take him down. HERE is where we get my FAVORITE part of the issue. Twelve panels of complete and utter silence. Just two figures of shadowy justice closing in on the bad guy. AWESOME.

The epilogue reveals that Bette's story is published and receives great acclaim. So much so that Bruce Wayne stops by to make amends for all the bad done in his name and offers to pay for any and all damages done. Not only that, but the dashing playboy offers Bette and Rory a grant to continue their work (and thus funding the Ragman, of course).


So why did I dislike this so? Like I said, it wasn't the art. The art wasn't my favorite. And the story wasn't bad either. It's just...

OK look. This is supposed to be the first meeting of Batman and Ragman. Having never read this before, I expected something a little more....grandiose. Maybe I was just putting unrealistic expectations on the issue and it couldn't live up to them.

I think a lot of it had to do with the format. It was told very quickly to fit into the anthology format. Maybe that played into the condensed and rushed feeling that I felt throughout the book.

But hey, the cover and those silent 12 panels are definitely the takeaways from this issue. So I suppose there IS some good in everything.

I'm not sure how I feel about the whole "Bette beating" side of things. Oh, it's awful, don't get me wrong. But was it necessary? Don't forget, Bette was a bitch in the original series. Very unlikeable from the get go. Is it possible that they did this to her to try and make her a more appealing character? To give the reader a chance to sympathize with her? It's an awful suggestion I know, but I can't help but wonder if there wasn't some other reason for their choices here other than just pure storytelling beats...

Anyways, drop a comment below. Share, like and follow the blog. I love feedback. Hey, I could be wrong on this issue and this story. Maybe there's something here I'm missing. Tell me! I'd love to hear it. Regular posting is coming back. I promise. Just...had to get motivated to push through this one I suppose.