RAGMAN #1 by Ray Fawkes and Inaki Miranda
Art
Plot
Characterization
Summary
RAGMAN #1 is an excellent revisioning of an iconic DC superhero. With a deep focus on protagonist Rory Regan's battle with PTSD, this comic should be read by fans of all stripes.
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Rags and Riches
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For fans of the ArrowVerse, Ragman has become a familiar face. The man with the living cloak, Rory Regan, started life in 1976 as one of DC’s first Jewish superheroes. Based on the mythology surrounding the Golem of Prague, Ragman found a cult following during the darker Bronze Age of comics. With DC’s Rebirth event set on exploring the annals of DC’s lore, it only makes sense that the company would want to revive such an interesting and important character. Led by the creative team of Ray Fawkes and Inaki Miranda, RAGMAN #1 hits the ground running with a dark, focused antihero narrative. In reintroducing this iconic character, DC invites discussion of PTSD and grief in stunning clarity.

Rory Regan Lives Again

Ragman #1
RAGMAN #1 page 9. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Six months ago, Rory Regan was a victim of tragedy. During an archaeological dig in the Israeli desert, Rory’s military unit snuck into the excavated tomb sniffing for treasure. What they found, though, was a single stone sarcophagus, ancient Hebrew carved into the side. Finding nothing within, the team sought a quick escape when they were attacked by a group of glowing-eyed humanoid monsters. Rory was the sole survivor of the massacre, and he lives with that pain every day.

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Fast forward to Gotham City in the present day. Rory has returned to his father’s antique shop, visits friends, and attends a support group for soldiers with PTSD. However, above all else, Rory sees monsters. Every day on the street, Rory sees people with glowing eyes watching his every step. He thinks he’s lost his mind. One night, however, proves him very wrong. While grieving over his team’s dog tags, a pile of rags rises from underneath his bed and consumes him. When Rory awakens, he is hanging from the side of a building, draped in said rags. Rory finds that he can control them through simple force of will. When he stumbles upon a demonic creature in the streets of Gotham, one tied to the deaths of his friends, Rory will stop at nothing to find answers.

Tattered Shadows

Ragman #1
RAGMAN #1 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Regan’s return to the DCU is brilliant. Many of the important elements still hold true. Rory’s powers still stem from Jewish myths, and his relationship with his father still acts as motivation. However, it’s the themes of PTSD and grief that intrigued me most in this issue. Rory faces terrible trauma, and that tears him apart. By seeing Rory at the support group, we find out that we are dealing with a character with room to grow or repair. That not only leads to fantastic narrative possibilities, but it gives readers a way to latch onto Rory from the start.

These themes are carried throughout RAGMAN #1. They aren’t a momentary gimmick. Rory’s survivor’s guilt plays into his whole character. Whether he’s at his father’s shop or a birthday party, we see the grief in his eyes. Narratively and artistically, the birthday party is one of the best examples of this theme. As one of the children hits a piñata, making a “bang” noise, Rory’s mind floods with the trauma of the attack, leaving him debilitated.

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Fawkes excels in RAGMAN #1, creating a plot that flows perfectly. His reimagining of Rory’s origins feels pertinent to today’s climate. It also balances this story’s potentially slow pace. While I loved seeing Rory’s everyday life, I felt that the action in the Israeli tomb and in Gotham are what pushed this story along. Most of this action occurs in flashbacks focused on Rory’s military history. However, these flashbacks are interspersed throughout, drastically changing the tone from a slice-of-life narrative to something darker and grittier. These shifts made the final reveal of the Ragman costume that much more powerful, bringing the visceral nature of the military scenes into Rory’s present life.

The Ragman Cometh

Ragman #1
RAGMAN #1 page 7. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Staying true to the plot’s themes, the characterization of RAGMAN #1 focuses almost exclusively on Rory’s own troubled history. So throughout, Rory receives some of the best characterization in comics books. He stands as a character steeped in darkness, but we get to see that this was not always his way. Through the flashbacks, we see a Rory Regan unafraid to joke and have fun with his military unit, making the eventual turn toward the shadows that much more apparent. In fact, starting RAGMAN #1 with Rory and his military buddies gives us a deeper context into his personality.

However, I found myself surprised when I discovered that Rory isn’t alone in this focus. While he is the only surviving member of his unit, we actually grow to care about each member. As time goes on, we see vastly different personalities on his team. While I can’t remember any of their names, I remember feeling like I was just another member of the group. That sense of shared camaraderie gives their eventual deaths that much more weight.

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Giving this story even more weight and power is Miranda’s work on the pencils and inks. Every page brims with detail, but his portrayal of Ragman and the demonic entities truly astounds. The character designs are highly detailed. Said details almost go so far as to muddy the overall designs, but these characters need to look grungy, dirty, and somewhat terrifying. Miranda excels at this, giving readers a perfect character for the Halloween season.

Final Thoughts: RAGMAN #1

RAGMAN #1 is a fast-paced, supernatural thriller with potent characters and poignant themes. Fawkes and Miranda manage to revive one of DC’s Bronze Age superheroes with respect and vision. The focus on PTSD gave RAGMAN #1 more introspective weight than nearly anything else on the market today. For readers looking for something new, RAGMAN #1’s dark aesthetic allows a glimpse into a world never seen before. For those obsessed with DC’s grand history, RAGMAN #1 is also the book for you. In other words, treat yourself to one of the best new comic books on the stands.

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