Upon hearing of a new Ragman mini-series, I nearly lost my gourd: this is a hero I’ve been incredibly interested in, though DC never seemed to put him in a position to succeed.
Don’t get me wrong – I have all three previous Ragman mini-series in addition to the Suit of Souls one-shot. However, with such an incredible background (war veteran, Jewish mysticism, a suit that steals the souls of those it defeats), you’d think he’d get more action outside of Shadowpact and Injustice: Year 3. I hoped he’d be included in Justice League Dark, but c’est la vie.
But now, it’s almost like that JLD wish has been acknowledged because for Dark scribe Ray Fawkes – DC’s most prominent supernatural writer – is heading a brand new Ragman series, updating him for the modern DC universe. And thank Yahweh, it’s a really good first issue.
First, the story itself is VERY engaging – Rory Regan is with a team of soldiers of fortune as they attempt to break into an old tomb for some rumored treasure. We see how they conduct themselves, and what the hierarchy is for this tight-knit group of fighters; Rory is ‘Twig’ here, the team’s little brother and the one they most depend on tactically. Fawkes does an incredible job of building tension as they get closer and closer to their goal, and then shit hits the fan aaaannd…..
…we’re in a meeting for veterans who are struggling with mental issues. Rory is there, and he seems to be interested in the visions of a fellow meeting attendee. I loved the time hop here, especially with how delicately Fawkes treats these folks. It’s extremely hard to readjust to normalcy when you’ve suffered an extreme trauma, and Fawkes does a great job of using this as a vehicle for exposition.
Quick time out to highlight the artistic duties here. Artist Inaka Miranda and colorist Eva De La Cruz excel in their abilities to craft a chilling ambiance in this book. The scenes in the tomb are visually frightening, creating this palpable tension that spreads throughout the story. They inject this otherworldly horror that propels the narrative forward, and when I saw “propel” I mean they make this book a freakishly quick read.
Back in the story, Rory is shaken after the meeting, and brings out a box of mementos, going back to the night everything changed. This is where shit gets REAL, and the suit of rags finally lets itself cover Rory for the second time.
I like the redesign of this suit here – it seems more composed of ancient rags than past interpretations, and the haunting orange lights make it seem even more otherworldly. However, I do, for some reason or another, miss the hood and the cloak from the past – it gave him an identity then, where he could conceal himself with the cape and further intimidate criminals. It gave him a unique profile, where here it presents flashes of a mummy (with the wrapping of the rags) and even a bit like Venom, with rags have tendril-like abilities. I reiterate: I really do like this redesign, but I worry that Ragman loses some of his individuality with some of the new assets.
I won’t recount the rest of this issue in this space because the creative team really does a wonderful job of establishing a spooky tone that really fits this character and PLEASE BUY THIS BOOK!
Eva de la Cruz does a spectacular job of choosing a color palette that creates a sense of dread, a fearful look that makes this hero’s powers seem slightly evil. She does a great job of helping establish the city as a vast, dark entity that harbors supernatural with ease due to its scope.
Also, big props to letterer Josh Reed – finding an identifying speech font and bubble for something supernatural can very easily slip into the realm of “hokey,” but Reed gives the rags a voice of its own that stands apart from other DC properties. The words are never distracting and help emphasize just how spooky this story is.
I really enjoyed this issue – it hits all the marks I believe a supernatural character like Ragman should have while giving him his own unique Rebirth. This has a tone just like a Gotham by Midnight or Justice League Dark, and I hope it further delves into the Judeo mysticism the rags present. Also? Guillem March, a favorite of mine, KILLS the cover here – it’s frenetic and intense without giving away too much of the story within. That dude needs an ongoing RIGHT MEOW.
Fawkes and crew do a phenomenal job of updating a classic Kubert character for a modern audience. They establish a sense of horror in this book that never lets the reader relax, from the gripping character narration to the otherworldly artwork. If you’re in the market for a new supernatural DC book, this is definitely worth your time.