Rory Regan is back in his hometown of Gotham City trying to readjust to a normal life after serving in the special forces. Like many soldiers, Rory has brought back painful memories and feelings from the horrors that he saw. But something else is going on and Rory is about to find out it’s more than memories and PTSD that he is suffering from. There are very real and literal monsters coming for him and his loved ones; Rory is about to inherit a heroic destiny that will ultimately turn him into the hero known as the Ragman.
Written by: Ray Fawkes
Art by: Inaki Miranda
Colored by: Eva De La Cruz
Lettered by: Josh Reed
Published by: DC Comics
Ragman as a character is not well known (most folks probably need a little background), and his exposure has been limited, with the biggest being the character’s reoccurring role on the fifth season of Arrow. So it’s interesting to see DC try and bring him back in his own series amid so much going on in the DCU. I’m happy to say it works, and this is a very engaging first issue.
Writer Ray Fawkes has updated the origin of the character, making him some kind of special forces member. The issue’s narrative jumps back and forth between the present day, where Rory is back in Gotham City dealing with rejoining society, and the recent past, where we see the mission/raid that started him on the path to becoming Ragman. Fawkes uses this technique not only to set up how Rory get’s the rags that will ultimately turn him into a hero but to also establish what kind of a person Rory is. In reading Rory’s interactions with his squad, we get a perfect sense of his personality. He seems to be the ‘kid’ in the team, the one everyone wants to protect. This works great because it makes Rory’s eventual role as a protector that much more powerful and also a bit ironic as well.
We also get to know Rory’s friends and team members, which is great because…SPOILER ALERT…one he has the rag suit on, Rory finds that one of his abilities is he now has the minds (souls?) of his friends speaking to him. This is a great detail that opens up all sorts of possibilities and situations. After all, hints show us that maybe not all of them could be trusted and these ‘voices’ do seem to know much more about what is going on than Rory does.
Ragman has also always had strong ties Jewish myths and culture (specifically the Golem), and this has also been brought back. Rory’s dad runs a shop that seems to be filled with cultural artifacts, and we can see things in Rory’s room that ie him to the culture as well. I’m glad this is being made a key factor in the book, as it was always one of the fascinating aspects of this character.
The PTSD themes work very strongly and are handled with maturity and seriousness. It’s great to see such an important and timely topic being dealt with well in a comic. It’s not overly preachy either. It’s blended well into the overall nature of the book.
The story itself is a fast-moving tale that is equal parts military action and horror, with the right amount of ‘origin tale’ details that don’t make it a complete piece of exposition. It’s lean and efficient writing that sets everything up perfectly by the issue’s end.
Inaki Miranda and Eva De La Cruz have created some stylistic and moody art. Being a Gotham City set story, a certain kind of atmosphere is expected, and that is absolutely present. It’s a lot of shadows and dark hues.
There is some great detail at work here also. Check out the featured image at the top of this review for an example; the window pane shadows falling across Rory are the kind of thing that makes comics cinematic and not static.
The page layouts are also pretty dynamic, creating a brisk pace that pushes the narrative forward but also knows when to slow down a bit and focus on the quieter, character moments.
The new Ragman design is also pretty awesome, sleeker and more horror-tinged than the previous ‘cape and hood’ look. There’s seems to be a Venom vibe in both appearance and power set, which works and goes along with the vibe the book is trying to capture.
This is a solid book that re-introduces a character perfectly. It has the right amount of set up, cast development and story intrigue to get a reader invested and wanting to continue on with the rest of this six-issue miniseries. Consider me officially waiting for the next chapter.