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, March 23, 2013

Ragman #4.5 - Wonder Woman and the Maltese Cup Cakes!

In 1941, one of the best movies ever made came out, "The Maltese Falcon". It starred Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor in a story about a priceless falcon and the hunt to possess it's riches. The legendary Bogart played the part of Samuel Spade, a freelance private detective originally hired under the guise of finding the missing sister of Mary Astor's character, Bridget O'Shaughnessy. Unfortunately for Samuel's partner Miles Archer, the whole gig was a ruse to flush out Ms. O'Shaughnessy's partner in crime Floyd Thursby. Apparently Floyd made off with the Falcon without Bridget and she was intent on getting it back before another interested party headed up by a man named Kasper Gutman "the Fat Man". The whole thing screams of 40's detective noir and it's one of my top favorite movies of all time. I've seen it probably hundreds of times, but I'll leave you to determine if you'd like to see it, here's the trailer:

So why on EARTH am I raving about an AMAZING Humphrey Bogart movie from 1941 on a blog all about Ragman? Is it to impress Robert Kelly with my knowledge on this particular old movie? Nah, I've got nothing to prove, but I do like name dropping from time to time. Actually, this ad from Ragman #4 published in 1977 brought the whole tale of my favorite movie to light.

Ah Hostess, you never cease to amaze me...even though you're out of business. Wonder Woman stars in a Hostess riff on 'The Maltese Falcon' minus the Falcon, plus the cupcakes. EPIC.

So allow the mega-fan of the Maltese to break it down character by character (and show off my fanboy knowledge).

It seems that, in this seven panel ad, Wonder Woman stars as Humphrey Bogart/Samuel Spade. I've already focused in on Samuel, so let me move on.

The instigator of this entire charade plays, oddly enough, the parts of both Bridget O'Shaughnessy and Joel Cairo. Bridget we know, but Joel? Joel is the main partner of "the Fat Man". A well spoken fellow intent on taking possession of the Falcon at all costs, including two failed attempts to hold up Samuel Spade (both freakin HILARIOUS).

Whomever this redheaded player is in the Maltese cupcake game, it's obvious shes a counterpart for Wilmer, "the Fat Mans" expendable lackey with the serious anger management issues. There are no character correlations, but just look at the coat. Yeah, definitely Wilmer. Wilma?

And last but not least we have the "Fat Lady" playing the role of the "Fat Man". Do I really need to explain this one more? "Fat Man" is the grand architect of the whole plot thus, so is the "Fat Lady".

The point? I'm just glad that a classic Hostess ad (notorious for being entertaining) was a rip off of one of my favorite movies of all time...and appeared in the penultimate issue of the ORIGINAL series of one of my favorite characters from the DC Universe. I just HAD to talk about it. Besides, it gave me the chance to take a moment to put the spotlight on one of the best movies ever.

Don't forget to comment, like and share! And you're WELCOME for two blog posts in ONE day!

Ragman #4 - Amusement Park Acid Trip!

Alright kiddos, tis time for another excursion into the tattered world of DC's tatterdemalion of justice, the Ragman! This time around we're jumping headlong into the surprisingly short 'Ragman' issue #4 by the wonder team of Kanigher, Kubert and the Redondo Studio. Just look at that cover! You know, for a man not well known for his superhero drawings, Kubert really paints an epic picture when he puts his pen to Ragman.

This issue is entitled, "The Dream Killers". Why is that? Well, issue four is where Kanigher decides to tackle an issue highly publicized in the 1970's...drugs. This issue, published in February/March of 1977, came out scant six years after the comics history changing story "Snowbirds Don't Fly" in issue #85 of the legendary "Green Lantern/Green Arrow" run by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams. (an issue I'm all too proud to say I own)

The story opens with a young woman, Jeanne Wilson by name, tripping insanely on the contents of a little white envelope. Soon enough, the young woman has died of her overdose as the three individuals who sold her the drug look upon her lifeless body, contemplating how to get rid of it.

As they reach the bridge they intend to dump her body off of, they quickly take notice that Ragman is watching them closely. He dives in to throw a few punches and drives the crooks away, leaving the body of Jeanne behind as Ragman discovers he's too late to save yet another victim of this new, potent drug.

Later, as Ragman has brought the body of the young woman to the morgue, he stands amidst as a doctor berates the city Lieutenant for not stopping the rapid distribution of the "dream killer" drug. In addition we learn that, not only is this influx of narcotics flummoxing the police, but that the death count is rising...and spreading to the younger members of the city as the doctor explains he just yesterday performed an autopsy on a twelve year old. During their discussion, the Ragman slips silently away and back to Rags N' Tatters.

That's a nice bit of continuity. Both Teddy and his little white kitten have become recurring characters from the last issue (see: "Attack of the Rocket Powered Wheelchair!"). But any-who, Rory, Bette and Teddy (along with all of the orphans) are off to the amusement park. Now, normally I don't post two pages back to back but, in this case, I wanted you to see how much fun these kids have and how much happiness is experienced at this park.

...and then Bette throws a wrench into the works with her ill advised statement. Seriously Bette?! It's been established that this young mans other senses are heightened and you're going to DARE say, "He doesn't know he's not supposed to be happy" right in front of him? And who are you to say that? The kid was born this way and he chooses not to let it rule his life. Yet you're so close minded you think him naive rather than headstrong and courageous? Whatever Bette. You're wholly irredeemable in my eyes.

After the day o' fun at the amusement park, the kids load up onto the ferry to go back to the mainland when suddenly, from the top of the ferry, one of the boys jumps into the water...heavily under the influence of the "dream killer". Rory (as Rory) dives into the water to save him, but the currents will not allow it as the child is ripped out of his hands and pulled down to his death.

Somehow Rory has grown suspicious of the amusement park and shows up later to confirm his suspicions when suddenly...

Yup, electrified silver coins AND the loveable and kind Mr. Seriph is actually a drug kingpin. Oh how far the world has fallen. So, Rory is rocketed into the icy waters below and, upon contact with them, awakens and (while ALREADY under water mind you and WITHOUT coming up for air first) dives and discovers one of the mini subs serves as the transport vessel for getting the drugs into the city. Resolve and will redoubled, Rory leaves the dark cold abyss to single-handedly dispatch all of the henchmen on the spot. Apparently Mr. Seriph ran out of electric coins.

And the end. You know, the drug story-lines ran heavy in the 1970's after the success of O'Neil and Adams' "Snowbirds Don't Fly" storyline. Most of the stories came across as preachy and forced, but this one had almost the same glint to it that the "GL/GA" issue did. It merely SHOWED what a danger drugs are without some long grandiose speech proclaiming such to the reader. I commend Kanigher and CO. for their subtlety and talent.

So why was this issue so short? Well, unless there were reasons I'm not aware of, it seems Kubert was sick of playing backseat in one of his own creations. Thus he drew five pages of a silent short story "written" by Kanigher. There are absolutely NO speech or thought bubbles. Nothing but sweet tatterdemalion justice beautifully illustrated by Joe Kubert himself. They're widely available elsewhere, so I'll just re-post them here:

 Beautiful no? And don't forget about the letters page! Nothing quite so epic as last time, but DEFINATELY a fun read to be sure!

The first letter is particularly sad considering the next issue, issue #5, would become Ragman's last appearance for a good little while. The second and third letters really speak to the idea that Rory's powers as Ragman stem from the electric current that passed between him, his father and his fathers friends as they died. And the third ALSO makes a connection to "Green Lantern/Green Arrow" series that I myself didn't make and its a point well made! And what would a Suit of Souls blog entry be without a ridiculous 70's advertisement? Well, here you go kiddies! Own a piece of Florida!

"Wait Chad," you say. "Just ONE small tiny advertisement? Did they get better or something? Are you holding out on us?" Why no dear reader! This blog is just awfully long already and the best ad, actually requires it's own blog post! So hurry up and comment, like and share THIS blog entry and hurry on over to the next post for some AMAZINGNESS!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ragman #3 - Attack of the Rocket Powered Wheelchair!

Annnnnd we're back! What? Another blog so soon? Don't be so shocked, I told you I'd start posting more when I had the time! Just don't expect it to be quite so regularly. But hey, here we are again with another issue of Ragman brought to you by Robert Kanigher, Joe Kubert and the Redondo Studio. Issue three has got to be one of my favorites of the entire first five issue run of the character. But I'll get to that.

We open with a young blind child following the putter patter of his kittens feet through the various alleyways and tenements, only to halt together at the sound of something suspicious. That sound, it turns our is the sound of three thugs hanging two individuals for telling the neighborhood to NOT pay them for protection. This execution is meant to put the neighborhood in it's place. Suddenly the child's little white kitten meows (as kittens are want to do) and the sound alerts the thugs to the boys presence. As boy and kitten go racing into the shadows with the thugs hot on their heels, Ragman suddenly appears.

Eagle eyed readers of the Suit of Souls will recognize that double page spread as the completed colored version of this blogs very own background! Anywho, as the thugs approach the boy (thinking they have him cornered and still not knowing the child is blind) the notice Ragman standing in the shadows with him. Ragman leaps out of the shadows and quickly dispatches all three thugs, walking off into the shadows with the child in tow. Later, the thugs wake up and their brief monologue reveals their connection to a "boss". But the story quickly reverts back to following Ragman and the child. Ragman discovers the child is not only blind but mute as well. Regardless, Ragman questions the boy for the reason he was being chased and through the questioning discovers the severity of the situation.

Ummm yeah, Rory would freakin KILL IT on some party charades...just saying.

Recognizing the danger the boy is in, Ragman takes the child back to Rags N' Tatters to hide out and assures him that his friend Rory Regan will look after him.

As Rory looks over the sleeping boy and his kitten, his mind wanders into a recap page of the story/origin thus far.

I like that particular page because it seemed more seamless than many other recap pages in comics of the times. Remember, most comics had a sort of "origin recap" panel or page in their comic issues JUST IN CASE a new reader were to pop in. Now, at this time in comics, that practice was on its way out, but it's still a mark of an older comic. That, and I liked the page because it confirms my theory from the first issue that Rory's abilities were transferred into him when he touched his father and his friends (in the process of them being electrocuted).

The scene cuts back to the thugs reporting in to their boss "Mr. Big". Mr. Big is displeased, as all crook bosses are who discover they hire incompetents, and vows to solve the problem himself.

Cut back to Rory and...sigh...Bette, as she makes her customary appearance to remind Rory of their "date"
to celebrate Chinese new year as Bette covers the event. Later that night, as the kid is sleeping, Rory dons the Ragman outfit again and sneaks out back to the sound of the thugs canvasing the neighborhood (and the back lot of Rags N' Tatters) to find the kid. Once more he expertly takes them out and walks back inside, right past a pile of mattresses as the comic once more reminds us of the presence of two million dollars in Rorys back lot.

Next morning, after breakfast, Rory goes to work once more at Rags N' Tatters.

I've always loved those scenes, as you probably can tell by now.

After work Rory and the kid walk out to meet Bette when, coincidentally, a woman in charge of an orphanage recognizes the child and thanks Rory for looking after "Teddy". Bette then pulls and uncharacteristically UN-bitchy move and suggests that herself and Rory take Teddy along with them to the Chinese new year festival and the head of the orphanage agrees.

Well it's there that Teddy smells the pomade and hears the knuckle cracking of one of the thugs and FREAKS out trying to identify him to Bette. No matter however as Ragman leaps out of the shadows to take him down. Mr. Big, not to be deterred by a child and a grown man in a suit of rags, takes this moment to begin ROCKETING TOWARDS TEDDY IN HIS WHEELCHAIR SHOOTING A MACHINE GUN.

Yeah. That bit of epicness JUST happened. An old fat mobster in a speeding wheelchair haphazardly firing off machine gun rounds at a child. Just wait, it gets better. The loyal little white kitten then leaps into the lap of Mr. Big and begins scratching him, throwing Mr. Big off course and speeding toward a shop window.

Kitten, boy, Bette and Ragman fine (and the enemy dispatched) the story ends there.

Now I said this was my favorite issue. Here's why.

1) The cover is nice and DARK. Thus far they've all had alot of color but Ragman is like Batman; he works best in shadows. Plus Kuberts name is on the cover in a completely unmistakable way.

2) There we unintentional(?) bits of humor in there with rocketing wheelchairs and Ragman charades.

3) Bette wasn't a completely unlikable character this time around.

4) A hero helped a child.

5) A theory was confirmed.

6) The letters page.

AH the letters page. I told you last time that I couldn't wait to get to this one for you guys. The letters page is constantly something fans of old comics talk about as a great resource. I never understood that love until now. Here is the COMPLETE letters page of "Junk Mail" featuring fan feedback from issue #1.

Allow me to point out three letters in this page.

The first...

Just a little foreshadowing of the DC implosion that would take Ragman (and Firestorm) off the stands in a scant few issues.

The second...

Confirmation from OTHER fans reading the series when it came out (and the powers that be) that the theory of Rorys abilities is correct.

and FINALLY...

Loyal fans of Ragman will know that later on, Rorys suit of Rags would take on a more supernatural origin. Rory himself would become a Jew. His whole background retconned and the character of Ragman would become a champion for the Jewish community. And Rorys suit would become the namesake for this blog; a suit of souls. A patchwork able to capture and imprison the souls of evildoers, allowing the wearer of the rags to call on the abilities of those trapped within the patchwork suit whenever he needed them. The suit would act as a purgatory until the souls paid their penance.

As of right now, Rory is apparently IRISH...but, knowing what we know about the future of the character, it's VERY interesting to read this letter in the pages of Ragmans third appearance.

Awesome huh?

Now to leave you, once more, with some humorous ads for Hostess, other DC titles (featuring gorillas), Spalding basketballs and a PSA from Supes about domestic child abuse.

Thanks for reading and PLEASE don't forget to "follow/join" the blog, comment on the postings and share the content to your hearts desire! Till we meet again!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ragman #2 - The Police Can't Touch Him!

Welcome back fellow Ragman enthusiasts for another exciting review of classic Ragman! This go around we're checking out issue number TWO of the Kanigher and Redondo Studio creation from the 1970's!

Things open up with a quick shot of Rory in his Ragman costume as his monologue quickly summarizes the basic high points of last issue, suddenly we cut to a car chase and the vehicle being chased cuts into the back 'yard' of Rag N' Tatters. The half double page spread then reveals that these two crooks in the car were intent on searching the Rags N' Tatters lot for the cash left behind from last issue. For reasons unknown, they've also abducted a gorgeous ebony skinned female and are ONLY being chased because they ran a red light...

As Ragmans sudden leap onto the hood obstructs the view of the driver, the car goes careening out of control and crashes. Ragman quickly dispatches the crooks. The stunning dark skinned goddess' name is revealed to be Opal. She promptly thanks Ragman for his help...

The police start to show up as Ragman disappears into the night, not without FIRST telling Opal to forget him, to which Opal responds...

Now here is where I'm going to take a break from the recap and focus on something VERY important, an imitation of Shag Matthews from 'Firestorm Fan' and  the 'Fire and Water Podcast'. LOOK AT THAT GIRL! The curves! The skin tone! Those LIPS! THAT BODY! That simultaneously coy and passionate behavior! Opals right my friends, there is NO way Rory/Ragman is going to forget this girl! (especially not with a biotch like Bette on hand)

*ahem* Back to the recap at hand (pst, someone AWESOME at drawing women get me a sketch of Opal posthaste)...

Rory makes the quick disappearance back into Rags N' Tatters, bandages himself up and sets about working all while thinking about Opal. (can't blame him) Oddly enough though, despite the ruckus in his shops back alley a few moments before, the cops never show up for a statement and he never wanders outside to check. PLOT HOLE! Damn you 70's comic! You're supposed to be spotless in your execution!

We get a little more recap from the first issue and a quick cut to the visual of the money still hidden within the mattress that is now in a STACK of mattresses in the back lot (miraculously unharmed by the car explosion moments ago).

Then, the next day we get yet another almost full page devoted to just how great of a guy Rory continues to be as he runs Rags N' Tatters.

GREAT. The bitchy (and apparently romantically pushy and desperate) Bette has returned! Although, before moving on  everyone notice the quick panel about Rory complaining about the amount of MATTRESSES piling up at the shop and his plans to BURN some of them? Remember that...annnnnnd we're back to bitchy Bette.

Suddenly the first words out of Bettes mouth after that deep kiss are a reprimand against Rory for having "changed" since Vietnam. Then she tries yet again to get Rory to leave behind the neighborhood and the shop. AND then this pushy blond headed bimbo has the audacity to quote the bible and says she'll wait for Rory like Rachel waited for Jacob. *facepalm*

I will give Bette ONE bit of credit to her criticism of Rory and his father. Rory knows his father WELL. Bette didn't. In her eyes, perhaps he was the old junk-man who spent his nights getting drunk with his friends. Maybe she just thinks his father was an old lazy drunk?

We then cut to the downtown office of "the SYNDICATE" where the following ensues...

Enter a "spy" the next day (who is really and old drunk paid off by the syndicate) to sell a cuckoo clock to Rory. Little do they both know that, at 11 o'clock that night, the cuckoo clock is set to explode. It does and the crooks are waiting in a helicopter for Rory to come running out with the millions of dollars in tow. (they assume he knows where it is and is just hiding it and that it will be the first thing he saves in a dramatic situation). Then we discover that, JUST IN CASE, Ragman shows up, the crooks have set Opal in the junkyard as bait.

Well Rory falls for it and luckily doesn't get himself or Opal killed. Instead he hops onto the helicopter trying to turn himself and Opal into people burgers. As he dodges various bursts of gunfire from the helicopters occupants, he comes to realize that he'll soon grow too tired and then quickly unfastens a tire from the helicopter and tosses it up into the whirring blades...

And there you have it!

Issue two!

Now, as you may be able to tell, my synopsis contains most of my thoughts, but I do have one FINAL thought on the story itself.

In this issue alone, a car explodes in the back lot of Rags N' Tatters. Then a bomb explodes IN Rags N' Tatters. THEN a HELICOPTER crashes into the back of Rags N' Tatters...what kind of shit cop is not investigating Rags N' Tatters?!?!

I'm just saying...

Any who, this issue was also filled with amazing advertisements. There's not much to say about them so I'll just show them off here for you to read (click images to enlarge).

Be sure to like, comment, share and subscribe!!!!! And don't forget to come back next time for the recap of issue #3! It may be more of the same, but next issue starts the infamous letters pages and something in there is going to be VERY interesting to you...and that is NOT a bull crap tease...I'm totally serious. Just you wait and see loyal reader!!!