Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chronic Review: The Tattered Man!

I got the Amanda Connor cover, of course!

The Tattered Man
Image Comics
Script:     Justin Gray/Jimmy Palmiotti
Pencils:   Norberto Fernandez
34 pages of story + another dozen of extras for $4.99

So, The Tattered Man.  I'm going to do this one really loose, so bear with me.

If asked to describe Tattered Man as a project, I would choose these words: strong, direct, visceral, satisfying.

The hook is blood simple - once upon a time a child named Isen escaped from a Nazi concentration camp with the help of a supernatural entity charged by the suffering of Jewish victims.  Isen kept the remaining rags locked safely away into his old age, discovered only when a trio of junkies robs his house looking to score.  The wheels come off the robbery, hijinx ensue, and the rags claim one of the robbers as their own, forcing him down a dark but potentially redemptive path as the vengeance seeking Tattered Man.

Gimmler:  creepy. evil. Nazi.
The comic looks fantastic, the visuals do not hold back.  There's a panel of Herr Gimmler in this comic that stopped me dead in my reading tracks.  It's hard to quantify just how astounding that is.  I read a lot of comics, my predilection is for text over the visuals, (yes, I know how stupid that sounds) and I've seen enough artwork at this point where it's difficult to phase me.  I saw that face and just stared at it for a few moments and just let the wow settle in for a bit.  Nailed it, Norberto Fernandez.  Nailed it.

The Tattered Man is a complex menagerie of lethal rags, and if this comic were a film, it would certainly earn an "R" rating, which suits me just fine.  I find no punch pulling, nor would I expect any from a script by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, the AC/DC of comics.  Yes, the tracks and albums do tend to sound familiar, but the riffs are raw, and powerful, and they do rock.

I mean, on the one hand, it really seems like this crew just visited the Nazis in Time Bomb.  That bogeyman has been done, by them, more than once.  On the other hand, the Nazis get visited because that symbol communicates.  This is really just a hybrid of Ghost Rider and Ragman, but at least it's Ghost Rider/Ragman done in a way that punches you in the throat.

I think sometimes Gray and Palmiotti are guilty of pruning their narrative bushes with chainsaws, but it works because it feels authentic, particularly in this story.  You understand how a pain like that could charge a vengeance creature, and the story shows you innocent blood that does feel like it needs to be avenged.  It just works.

The Tattered Man
And I don't mean to be too reductive, because I find some depth as well.  Isen asks the question that everyone should ask of vengeance - where were you before all this shit went down?  Vengeance is inferior because it is by definition late.   A better world would spend that energy stopping the bad things from happening, instead of compounding the problem with more pain.  Sometimes hurting back is all we've got, though.

Tattered Man also separates itself with a redemptive twist.  Dave, the man forced to wear the rags now, is the most sympathetic of the robbers.  Yet he's the one forced to bear the burden of righting the scales.  Mostly this means tearing into people in the most gruesome manner possible, but sometimes it means demanding that a woman make good by an orphan she helped create.  And there seems to be a way out for Dave if he can undo enough damage with the rags, providing hope and a driving motivation for the both the character and the book.  It works, man.

This is a prestige format type of package, basically a double-sized issue with a thicker and glossier cardstock cover for the price of just about two comics.  Is it a value?  It's on the border, I think.  Thirty four pages of story is really more like 1.5 comics, I guess.  I think the attribute that tips the scales toward the positive for me is that this comic represents a complete, satisfying story.

As your attorney, I advise you to go out and buy a copy of the Tattered Man if you have any interest in horror at all, because I would like to read more of these.

- Ryan

1 comment:

David Ferguson said...

Visceral was the word that sprang to mind. I'm hoping they get to tell more stories. I'd like a once a month stand alone issue comic like Jonah Hex.