The Tattered Man


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The Tattered Man


  • Words: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
  • Art: Norbert Fernandez
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: May 18, 2011

Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray have quietly become one of the most versatile writing teams in comics. Their work spans a wide range of genres from westerns to mainstream superheroes to everything in between. Or so I’ve been told. You see, I’ve never read any of their comics. I’ve read about a lot of them. I even plan on picking up more of their books but until The Tattered Man, I hadn’t been exposed to their work. I was a little shocked when I realized this (surely, I’d read something of theirs?!) and a little dismayed that this one-shot was my first exposure to their writing.

The Tattered Man is a solid read exploring themes of retribution and redemption, set against the backdrop of a tragic home invasion and drawing upon the Holocaust and Jewish mythology for its inspiration. The artwork is serviceable but seems ill-suited somehow to the story and the writing, while competent, fails to adequately develop virtually the entire cast. Granted, this is a one-shot but I couldn’t bring myself to care about a single character and that’s a problem. The drug-addled home invaders felt so generic and stiff, they were little more than props, lacking any defining characteristics to set them apart from any other drug-addled home invaders in any other comic. I kept on thinking about the murder of the Golden Age Nite Owl in a similar scene in Watchmen and how The Tattered Man’s criminals paled in comparison to the truly terrifying punks in Moore’s epic.

The truth is these themes and concepts have all been explored before in stronger stories and characters. The Tattered Man almost reads like a diluted reinterpretation of DC’s Ragman property but lacks the emotional and historical weight decades of development impart to a character. Setting obvious comparisons aside, this book just felt rushed and a tad unfinished. Even the ending felt awkward and lacked closure – and not in that cool, ambiguous underground way but in the same way a customer service representative rushes you off the phone come break time.

Somewhere above I said The Tattered Man was a solid read and despite the issues I had with the book, it wasn’t the worst comic I’ve read lately. Perhaps with a little more polish, The Tattered Man could have struck a chord with me but as it stands, it felt more like a half-formed idea that should have stayed on the drawing board.

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