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The Tattered Man is something that could only exist in a comic
book and truly shows why the medium is one of the greatest formats to work in.
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray have crafted a world that is familiar and yet
very different than other comic creations. The Tattered Man is one of the best
comics of 2011 and hopefully this one-shot will spawn off into an ongoing
series so that the creators can continue to delight us with their horrifying
tales of tragedy and humanity.
Our story begins with three junkies on Halloween looking for money so that they can score their next hit by robbing people door to door. They decide to knock on the door of an elderly Jewish man thinking that due to his religion he would have money lying around. Unfortunately for them he’s a man of modest means and lives off of social security. They begin to toss his apartment when one of them finds a box with a swastika on the lid. She opens the box and the old man freaks out asking her not to touch it. The leader of the pack tells him to explain why they shouldn’t at gun point which forces the man to tell them a story from his past.
He tells them of when he was a boy on his way to a nazi concentration camp with his parents. He describes the torture and pain of what he saw when he was there, but that everyone was almost free of the Nazis as the Allies were winning the war. A high ranking officer in SS arrives and orders the extermination of the camp before the Allies can free anyone. The old man describes the moments as the entire camp was being slaughtered and how he didn’t care to live only to join his family in death. That is until all of the spirits of the dead rose up and formed the Tattered Man from the dead’s clothing and killed every man and woman in a nazi uniform. The boy was angry as the spirit of vengeance killed everyone, wondering why it had not come sooner to save his family. Never the less when everyone was dead only rags remained and the boy picked them up and kept them all these years. The story continues from there and only becomes more interesting.
This is hands down some of Palmiotti and Gray’s best work in comics, period! The story runs the gambit of emotions mostly on the negative side of the spectrum. There’s fear, sadness, guilt, violence and remorse all in one book. It’s something that special and should not be missed by any comic fan. You may not be a fan of horror or even period piece drama, but this book will make you forget all of that with the quality of the story that sucks you in from beginning to end. My only grip is that this is a one shot issue. By the end I was ready to support this as a monthly issue and move it to the top of my reading pile.
It’s almost an added bonus that the art for this issue is so good. The quality of this issue in general is top notch and makes it even more surprising that it’s a one shot. Artist Norberto Fernandez is an amazing talent as he captures two eras in one book. Since this book spends a lot of time building a real-world feel Fernandez is challenged with adding the horror supernatural element to that world in a realistic way and he succeeds in doing so. There’s not a lot of gore in the book, but the parts there are are perfect for the story and never feel too grotesque or even glorify the murder. Fernandez was the perfect choice for this story and a great talent in the world of comics.
This book is damn near perfect. Long time comic readers will find familiar elements like Ragman, the Spectre, Spawn and even the creators own Monolith. They take these elements that have always been restricted by the worlds that the creators and publishers have created and let them loose in one idea that is again familiar and yet wholly original. The Tattered Man is full of humanities darkness and yet leaves you with hope for the future that even through pain and tragedy there is still good in the world.
Overall Score – 10/10
*As close to perfect as a comic can get - Story, art, presentation are all a thing of wonder*