A shadowy figure hands a little girl a ball, and asks her to toss it to the man pulling up in the red convertible. The ball bounces into the convertible and explodes. The driver, Dill Dixon, dies in the explosion. The little girl lies severely injured in the street. Fleeing the scene are two hoods, who go by the names Vorst and Anders. As they cut through an alley, Vorst is spooked by a rustling sound, and fires three shots from his revolver. The two men ascend a fire escape ladder to a nearby rooftop. Behind them, stepping out from the shadows, is the Ragman, who has taken a bullet to the shoulder. Despite his injury, the Ragman pursues the two killers. Pouncing on them from above, a pitched battle ensues. The gunmen get off several shots, but despite the advantage of catching the Ragman in a crossfire, they are unable to hit him. A hard kick from the Ragman sends Anders hurtling over the roof's edge. Ragman grabs for Anders' arm, caching the sleeve of his jacket. The material, however, tears away, and Anders plummets to his death. The distraction has been enough to allow Vorst to escape. The Ragman returns to his home, at the Rags 'N' Tatters pawn shop, and resumes his civilian identity, Rory Regan. A parade of hopeless poor people shuffle in and out of the shop all day. Each exchanging their most beloved items for the few dollars Regan can offer. Bette Berg, a photojournalist friend of Regan's, brings by the morning paper. The front page details the Ragman's latest exploits. Berg pleads with Regan not to live like his father, and abandon this life as junk dealer.
At the end of the day, Regan's thoughts turn to the past. The joy he felt traveling around the city streets, in his father's junk wagon, soliciting for purchases. Though the city's denizens rained garbage down upon them as they passed, Rory's father shrugged it off. Still, he wanted a better life for his son. Years pass. Regan returns home from the Viet Nam war to again run the shop with his father. One night, Rory's father, Gerry, is out behind the shop, reminiscing with his three old drinking cronies, an ex- circus strongman, a former prize fighter, and an acrobat. The four men are drinking and lounging about on an old mattress, recently acquired by Regan's father. To their astonishment, they soon discover that there's over $2,000,000.00 hidden in the mattress. Feeling that they're each too old to really enjoy the massive cash windfall, they decide to give all the money to Rory, so he can make a better life for himself. The four men stack the mattress onto a pile of old mattresses, hiding it in plain sight. Suddenly, a gunshot rings out. The man who hid the money in the mattress has come to claim it. Another gunshot, and that man falls over dead, murdered by Vorst and Anders. The money was stolen from their boss, and they've come to collect it. Vorst and Anders shoot down high tension wires, draping all four of the old men. Though they writhe about in agony, as the electrical current runs through their bodies, not a one of them gives up the location of the money. A horrified Rory arrives, and attempts to pull his father, and the others, out from under the live wires. With each man holding onto the other, Rory reaches out for his father's hand. The powerful current flows through all five men, grounding in Rory. The younger Regan regains consciousness to find his father, and his father's friends, all dead. Regan goes to call the police and discovers a note left to him by his father. His father has left Regan a parting birthday gift, a costume of sewn together rags, which Regan could wear at an upcoming costume party. Regan dons the costume, giving birth to the Ragman.