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Ragman #1

Review by Paul Bowler

A hero is forged from adversity in Ragman #1 as war vet Rory Regan struggles to come to terms with his past, and embarks on a mission to confront a sinister new evil rising in Gotham City as the mysterious supernatural vigilante – Ragman! This new DC Comics Ragman mini-series by writer Ray Fakes (Constantine, Gotham By Midnight) charts a bold new reimagining of Ragman’s origin, the Jewish hero whose mystical suit of rags gives him power from the souls it has bound and drained. Fawkes is joined by artist Inaki Miranda and colorist Eva De La Cruz, in brining us this new vision of Ragman, and the series will feature covers by Guillem March.

Ragman originally debuted in 1976, and was created by DC Legends Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert. The series was short lived but Ragman’s gritty urban setting, along with his uncanny blend of magic and mystery, has always made this champion of the downtrodden a compelling character, and he’s remained a distinct figure in the DC Universes otherworldly pantheon of characters ever since – albeit often as a guest star. This new Ragman mini-series is the first comic book series to feature Ragman in a major role since 2010’s Ragman Suit of Souls one-shot. The character also appeared in Season 5 of CW’s Arrow TV series, played by Joe Dinicol.

In a nutshell Ragman #1 finds war veteran Rory Regan still haunted by the death of his team-mates after their mission to locate a treasure in the Israeli desert gores disastrously wrong. Now back in Gotham and consumed with survivors guilt, Rory’s ongoing struggle with PTSD leads him to discover that he inadvertently brought the treasure back with him – a rag-tad suit of souls that has the ability to collects the souls of others – and it will change his life forever!

Seeing inhuman things in people’s eyes wherever he goes, events drive Rory towards his eventual transformation into Ragman, and it only then when things start to become clear to him. Together with the disembodied help of his dead team-mate, Rory learns more about the suit of rags, and its strange powers. But a dark evil is building in Gotham City. A demonic force wants the Suit of Souls, soon it will unleash its minions on those he loves most, and Rory must quickly master his new abilities as Ragman to save Gotham from this hellish threat …

Ray Fawkes does a great job in establishing the character of Ragman and keeping the plot moving along at a fast pace, whilst not getting too bogged down in exposition, as he skilfully brings the multifaceted aspects and interpretations of the character together for this new take on Ragman’s mythology. With flashbacks resonating powerfully throughout the narrative as Rory attempts to piece his life back together in present day Gotham, Rory’s struggle with PTSD, his close bond with his father, and the eventual realization of how he became Ragman all splice together with a hauntingly dream-like quality. Fawkes emotionally charged script remains eminently respectful to the character – as well as offering an entirely fresh perspective – and the results is an edgy, mystically tinged, adventure that proves to be as intriguing as it is exhilarating.

The brooding, sombre look of this Ragman series is effectively defined by artist Inaki Miranda and colorist Eva De La Cruz, with boldly stylised page layouts that stylishly reflect the beats of the story. Inaki Miranda packs in a tremendous amount of detail on every page. The characters and expressions are well defined; nerve jangling angles permeate the flashbacks, while the quieter moments as Rory deals with his PTSD sublimely punctuate the narrative. Rory’s father has always been an integral part of the Ragman mythos, and the scenes between Rory and his dad in the Rags N Tatters shop is one of this issue stand out emotional moments. Ragman’s appearance has also been suitably updated, and the character looks even more wild and dramatic than ever as his suit of souls evolves and flow with the strength of Rory’s inner demons. Eva De La Cruz’s utilizes a vivid palette of color throughout, enriching the brooding darkness and accentuating emotions with subtle shifts in tone, contrasting it with a striking Gotham skyline awash with rich urban hues, and building the ominous drama of the cliff-hanger with a spirited fission of color and shadow.

Ragman #1 ushers in an exciting new era for long-time fans of Ragman and offers a great introduction to the character for newcomers as well. Stylishly written by Ray Fawkes, with great art by Inaki Miranda, glorious colors by Eva De La Cruz, and with a stunning cover by Guillem March, Ragman #1 is a reboot that captivates your imagination as it enwraps you in its dark world. It may only be a mini-series, but on the strength of this issue, I certainly hope Ragman becomes a more permanent feature in DC’s Rebirth continuity in the future.

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: Ray Fawkes / Art : Inaki Miranda / Colorist: Eva De La Cruz

Letterer: Josh Reed / Cover: Guillem March