Written by: Joey Esposito, Special to CC2K
In the Character Sketches feature, the comics gurus of CC2K will select one obscure character from one of the world of comic's multiple universes and deal with what makes these characters worth checking out. Whether it be for comedy, history, their respective role in their universe, or for a good story you might not ever catch without us here at CC2K giving you that helping nudge. This week, Gotham City's mystical protector: Ragman!
Sure, there is always tons of hooplah about Batman and all that he's done for "his" city of Gotham. But what about the unsung heroes that lurk in the very same city? But what – what about the unsung heroes in Gotham that aren't part of the illustrious Bat-family? Yes, they do exist, and yes, they are just as awesome.
The hero I speak of is none other than DC's resident Jewish mystic superhero, Ragman. In terms of solo stories and self titled books, the character has a pretty poor history, but regardless remains one of the coolest characters in DC's stable. His evolution since his first appearance in Ragman #1 in 1976 is large, and each step in his evolution has made him that much more attractive to readers. If that's true, why the hell haven't you heard of him?
As I said, most of his attempts at solo books failed.
Originally, Rory Regan as created by Joe Kubert and Robert Kanigher was simply a neighborhood do gooder that co-owned a pawn shop called Rags'n Tatters with his father. His costume was self made from various "rags'n tatters" (clever!) he found in his shop. Not very mystical, huh? Where the character begins to pick up more than just a badass look is with 1991's Ragman mini-series by Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming, where his suit became magical, with each rag dangling off his suit belonging to a soul of bad guy he had beaten and absorbed.
Absorbing new souls adds to Ragman's powers, as he can draw upon them for strength and agility, although the process of absorbing souls is actually detrimental to the health of Rory, causing him great pain.
During Infinite Crisis, Ragman was brought into the limelight in Day of Vengeance, a mini series featuring a ragtag group of C-list magic users in the DCU attempting to stop a corrupted Spectre from destroying, well, everything. Out of this spun the current series Shadowpact, named after the moniker this team adapted before their battle with Spectre. Through this series, we have learned that there have been Ragmen before Rory, and that in fact the line goes back thousands of years. While this is all well and good, there is still too much to be learned and seen of Rory before we go back and look at past generations of Ragmen.
The reason Ragman is so cool is because of his admittance to his limits and that using his powers actually hurts him. In the DCU, there are plenty of flawed heroes, but rarely do we see them admit it. The fact that Rory still stands up against a force as large and daunting as the Spectre even with his admitted limitations speaks volumes about Ragman has a human being, let alone a superhero.
Unfortunately, Ragman is still begging to be adapted into his own series. While Shadowpact is great, Rory has such a strong background tale that I definitely believe he could stand on his own in what would surely be a critically acclaimed but reader deficient solo book. DC always states they have a strong dedication to diversity, and what better way to show it than by having one of the (very) few Jewish superheroes star in his own book?
Until then, I'm afraid we'll have to settle for Shadowpact and Rory's occasional appearances in other books. And hopefully, his very own DC Universe action figure. If only for my sake, head on over to www.toyfare.com and vote for his figure to be selected in an upcoming wave of the DCU figures!
And while you're at it, definitely check out:
Ragman #1-8 mini-series (1991)
Ragman: Cry of the Dead #1-6
Day of Vengeance #1-6
Day Of Vengeance Special #1 (one-shot)