|(Photo by Ragman artist Inaki Miranda)
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.