When Rory Regan was a child, he helped his father work in his pawn shop, Rags 'n' Tatters, in Gotham City. Rory's father constantly promised he would make a better life for Rory. Rory's father was also passionate about the neighborhood. He wanted to make a change in his community and used his pawn shop to help others when ever he could. One day while drinking behind the store, Rory's father and his friends found money stuffed in a mattress that had just been pawned off at the store. Unfortunately the money was stolen from a armored car heist and doom was near. A short time later the thieves came back to get their stolen loot. Rory's father was outside again with his friends when the thieves showed up. They started interrogating the men and even shot down electrical wires to torture the men into revealing where the money was. When Rory showed up, he saw his father and friends on the brink of death and intense pain. Instinctively Rory reached out to help his father. Pulling his father from the wire, a bolt of electricity went through everyone and grounded out Rory himself. the shock completely knocked out Rory and when he woke all of his father's friends and his father were dead. Not only that but the thieves turned murderers were gone
Distraught and wanting vengeance, Rory got an old costume of a that his father had made for him when he went to a costume party. The costume was a bunch of rags sewn together so he could look like a real rag-man at the party. this was on obvious play on his occupation but now the costume became more. Now, Rory would use the costume to punish those who had killed his father and his father's friends. As the Ragman, Rory discovered that somehow the physical attributes of the men who were killed was transferred to Rory somehow. As if the electricity carried their strengths directly to Rory. He had the abilities of a prized boxer and agility of a Olympic acrobat, as well as the strength of a massive body builder.
Ragman made his first appearance in Ragman #1 in 1976. He was created by artist Joe Kubert and writer Robert Kanigher. Ragman was created to compete with Marvel's X-Men and characters like Warlock. The popularity of darker heroes was growing and the DC Comics felt a character like Ragman would fit the bill.
Not many stories about the Pre-Crisis Ragman were ever told, but he ended up fighting crime in Gotham and maintained his father pawn shop. Just like his father before him he took great pride in his community and used the pawn shop to help others. One thing he would do is give people more money than an item was worth just to help him out. He also would hold things for the customers instead of selling it after they failed to pay on time. he knew he saw a lot of people who were desperate and he wanted to help as many of them as he could.
Ragman also had a few adventures with Batman. Batman was always cautions and suspicious of the Ragman but he did developed some respect for the hero. Most of the stories and adventures of Ragman would go by the wayside and the character would be drastically reinvented after the Crisis of Infinite Earths.
After Crisis of Infinite Earths, Ragman was not part of the DC Universe for a long time. In 1992 however the character was reinvented by Keith Giffen. Many aspects of the pre-Crisis Ragman remained the same. His name was the same and his father Gerry was as giving as he was before. Both Gerry and Rory worked at the same pawn shop Rags 'n' Tatters. This time, however, things go bad when some hoods try to take over the pawn shop to use it as a front for drugs. When the Regans refuse, they are both beaten. Rory is scared and left for dead in the slums of Gotham, and Gerry is literally beaten to death.
Rory was luckily found by a homeless friend and taken to a hospital where they managed to save his life. While he was recovering two crooks working for the drug dealers take over the pawn shop posing as Rory's Aunt and Uncle. The criminals had no idea that Rory survived the beating. When Rory gets out of the hospital and discoverers the criminals deception he attempts to break into the pawn shop to gather evidence of the criminal activities. While in the shop he open a box that is filled with rags. As soon as he opens it the rags cover his body like a suit and he becomes the Ragman.
With the suit Rory attacks and kills the man posing as his uncle and the suit absorbs the woman posing as his aunt.. The patches surround her and she become one of the patches that he wears as part of his costume. After this he attacks and kills all the criminals he can find that are involved with the drugs and the death of his father.
Rory is latter confronted by by a Rabbi who knows the story of the Ragman he tells Rory that he is only that latest person in a long line to be the Ragman going back to 1500 A.D. The first Ragman was in the sixteenth century. He was created by the Council of Rabbis as a counterpoint to the Golem. The Golem was created as a force of good to fight evil and promote justice. The Golem however was feared and the people thought of it as a mindless lump of clay. It was felt that The Ragman being controlled by a human would be a better defender of Justice.
In World War II the Ragman was none other than Rory's father. The Ragman was defending a Jewish community by German soldiers. The Ragman helped all he could and it was believed the suit was destroyed due to the fire. fire being an obvious weakness of costume. It was because the suit was believed to have been destroyed by the fire that the very rabbi who told Rory the history of the suit built another Golem. Over the years the Golem became more and more human like. The Golem still however has the word EMET written on his forehead. the word means truth in Hebrew and gives the Golem his life. Now that Rory had the suit he was warned that their was not enough magic for the suit and the Golem to coexist at the same time. He warn Rory that the Golem will come looking for him.
The Rabbi also trains Rory on how to use the suit properly. He tells Rory that the rags are evil souls. Each rag being one soul. Every time the Ragman fights crime he also has to fight the evil spirits that inhabit each rag. The rags try to control the wearer and destroy him.
As a crime fighter the Ragman discovers that the leader of the drug dealers is a man named Howard Spratt. Spratt owns the slums in Gotham and pits two gangs against each other to keep his power. As the Ragman fight criminal after criminal he finds it harder and harder to control the suit. Then Ragman fights the Golem himself and he becomes more and more ruthless during the fight. Later, the Golem who had made friends with the same homeless woman basically sacrifices himself to allow the Ragman to exist. He is destroyed when he allows the homeless woman to erase the word EMET that was written on his head and he crumbles back into clay.
The Ragman goes out to finish the job against Howard Spratt only to find he was killed by the vary gangs he had been manipulating. The Ragman believes his mission is accomplished but gets surprised as Batman shows up. Batman has found out about the Ragman, and plans on turning him into the law. He chases Ragman but is stopped by the people of the slum who surround him to protect him. It is at this point that Ragman turns into Rags and goes where he is needed.
Ragman ends up in New Orleans. It is there that he stops a bloody rampage. After this he finds it more and more difficult to control the suit so he goes back to Gotham City. It is there he meets Batman again and is embroiled in a fight against an Aryan gang called the Aryan Reich. Ragman becomes enraged by the gang and feels he can no longer control the suit. It is only when his mentor the rabbi who had originally help him is killed that the Ragman chooses to fight for the principles of the rabbi and not give into the suit.
Major Story Arcs
After this, the Ragman fought more and more creatures with mystical powers. He fought the deamons that invaded earth and made himself an enemy of a daemon gang known as the Diablos. It was about this time that he joined up with Shadowpact, a group of heroes with magical abilities that was formed to fight the Spectre.
During the Infinite Crisis, Ragman was fighting crime when he was teleported to a forest. He heard someone calling him and it is Enchantress stuck under trees. He calls upon the souls in his suit to pick the trees up. He carries her for some feet so she can heal herself. She tells him about what happened and tells him to teleport to the Oblivion Bar and so he does. When their there they try to figure out what the Spectre wants. He goes with the rest of the group to the Mist woods to follow Spectre's trail. Enchantress pulls him aside and tries to give him a gun which will kill her if she goes evil. He declines and tells her he will put her in his suit if she turns evil. He then kisses her thinking she was coming on to him. She then laughs and tells him never to do that again or else. When the teleport to Spectre, he goes and tries to fight Eclipso. He tries to absorb but her backlash burns hundreds of the souls that was in his suit. He is then fighting Enchantress after she turns evil.
Later, Shadowpact is trapped in a shield of blood that surrounds the city of Riverrock, Wyoming. While in the city, Ragman and the others find an evil group known as the Pentacle. The Pentacle had a member known as the Bagman. The Bagman is basically the Ragman's opposite. He also absorbs souls but does so by transforming into a gooey form. Shadowpact only spent a short time in the city but found when they get out that a whole year had gone by. While they were in the city, the Phantom Stranger and Rex the Wonder Dog looked after the city. After they leave, Rory has to start his life over again. Many people thought he was dead and the rest of his teammates had similar problems. There was even a memorial statue made in their honor.
Later, Rory gets trapped in a dimension in his own Ragman cloak. There he meets a soul who is working off his crimes. The man's name is Marcus Liberius and he was a centurion. He reveals that the cloak is the Great Collector Artifac, and has been in existence in many forms since the time of Abraham from the old testament going as far back as 1812 BC. Rory finds out the the souls in his suit have a chance to redeem themselves by helping Rory as the Ragman. Marcus himself suffers for Rory when he gets blinded. Marcus willingly takes this blindness on himself. This among his other sacrifices allows Marcus ascend to a higher realm. Ragman was a member of the short lived Sentinels of Magic who came together to decide the fate of the Spear of Destiny.
Ragman: Ashes to Ashes
In Gotham City, Rory becomes an assistant medical examiner at Gordon's precinct and on the first day of his job, he finds a corpse being fished out of Gotham Bay. The leading medical examiner writes off the body as a suicide since there doesn't seem to be any sign of abuse. Unbeknownst to Rory, Mayor Sebastian Hady is trying to reshape the Robbinsville district in Gotham in order to modernize the city but the problem is Robbinsville is a sanctuary for the homeless. Hady has taken upon himself to pay off hired muscle into removing the "undesirables" as he calls them and if they refuse, examples will be made.
Rory dons his Ragman attire and heads out to Gotham's slums to investigate the source of a series of arson attacks. Rory contacts a soul from his Ragman cloth that has some experience with arsonists. Vincenzo Salavata was the original Firebug who died in a fire he started in 1953. It seems Firefly has gone under the delusion that he is a god who will cleanse the Earth with fire and bring new life from the ashes. Ragman puts an end to Firefly but he is unable to connect Firefly's destruction of Robbinsville to Mayor Hady's involvement.
Batman: Dark Knight
Jason Blood was at his Gotham Penthouse when he felt a disturbance in the balance between Heaven and Hell. He immediately transforms into Etrigan and begins to track down this supernatural threat that is lurking in the dank alleys of Gotham City. Etrigan finally comes across a group of vagrants who proclaim some demon has been picking off their fellow indigents. Etrigan observes the area for any signs of truth to these stories but the only thing he could pick up on was Killer Croc's scent. Etrigan figures Croc has been devouring Gotham's unfortunates but then he comes under attack by Ragman.
Ragman has become possessed by Blaze because she wants to see if Etrigan is worthy of returning to Hell as her consort. The battle between these demonic forces ends in the sewers because Blaze intervenes. Blaze tells Etrigan that she is pleased with his performance and she offers him the chance to regain his hellish status in the underworld. Without hesitation, Etrigan agrees to Blaze's request even though Jason pleaded with Etrigan in not accepting Blaze's proposal.
Powers and Abilities
The Ragman acquires corrupted souls by absorbing them and adding them as rag in the suit. Doing this, however, makes the Ragman weak and sick. The Ragman can use the physical powers of any number of the corrupted souls that make up his suit. This increases his strength, speed, and stamina with every soul. However, it is difficult to tap into a large number of souls at one time. The Ragman suit will materialize whenever he is in danger, and it can teleport the Ragman to wherever he's needed. Also, The Ragman suit can turn into other forms and weapons.