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!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 14, 2016

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

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

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

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

Let me tackle those one by one:

1) What did I think of it?

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

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

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

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

3) How is he the same?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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