I liked tonight’s episode for a couple reasons:
- I’m a sucker for characters that aren’t as well known
- I’m intrigued (and kind of annoyed) by the different mindsets of Oliver and his recruits
But before I get into the latter, let’s talk a little bit about these “second rate” heroes-in-training: Wild Dog and Ragman.
First off, that goalie mask Wild Dog rocks is awesome. Being a hockey nerd, I was instantly drawn to it. It actually has elements of masks that some of the greats like Bernie Parent, Gerry Cheevers, Tony Esposito and Ken Dryden wore. Very cool!
Anyways, truth be told, I wasn’t all that familiar with Wild Dog myself. But working for the DC machine has its perks and I was able to do some research.
Here’s the skinny…
Our hockey masked hero made his first appearance back in 1987 in the four-issue miniseries, WILD DOG. The series told the story of Jack Wheeler—a college football player who is injured and decides to drop out of school and join the Marines. While enlisted, he witness most of his buddies killed by a terrorist group. Dejected, he leaves the Marines and returns home. While there, his life begins to get back on track and he falls in love with a girl named Claire Smith. Everything was looking up for Jack…until it all came crashing down when Claire was struck down by a gunman. It was later revealed that she was actually the daughter of a recently killed Chicago mobster and that her murder wasn’t random, but rather, a hit. The incident causes Jack to snap. Tired of seeing innocent people hurt or killed, he dons a goalie mask, camo pants, a machine gun and a shirt with his old college mascot on it, and takes the law into his own hands—roaming the streets as the vigilante aptly named by police, Wild Dog.
It’ll be interesting to see if Arrow takes a similar route with their version of Wild Dog. So far, all we know is that he’s an overly aggressive vigilante—which is accurate to how he was in the comics. I’m hoping as the season goes on, they’ll delve more into his backstory.
Moving on…what did you think of Ragman?
I loved his voice. It’s exactly how I would expect a mystical being like him to sound.
I actually have some familiarity with him, as he’s appeared in some of the books I’ve read over the years and sort of operates like Batman in the Gotham underbelly.
It’s nice to see Arrow looks like it will be borrowing from the comics in a sense that the mystical origins of Ragman are going to be preserved. Does that mean he’ll have the same background in Arrow as he does in the comics? It might be too early to tell, but it looks like the fundamentals are there...
Ragman tells Oliver that his father wrapped him in the rags on Genesis day as a way to protect him—claiming that the rags were ancient and from the time of Devarim. If my research serves me right, Devarim—meaning “[spoken] words” in Hebrew—is the fifth book of the Torah; a section of the Hebrew Bible.
In the comics, Ragman originates from Jewish lore. During the 16th century, the Jews of Prague created a Golem to protect themselves from persecution. Growing wary of the Golem, the Council of Rabbis decided that a human defender should replace the creature. The new champion was clothed in rags that were empowered by a verse from the Kaballah. The suit grants superhuman strength, speed, agility and the ability to float on air. Its magic can claim the souls of the evil and corrupt in its tattered rags—allowing the Ragman to draw upon them.
During WWII, Jerzy Reganiewicz took on the Ragman mantle but was unable to protect his people from the atrocious events of the Holocaust. Years later, the suit was passed down to his son, Rory, who used it to protect people in the Gotham slums where he operates as a Batman type hero. He’s even teamed up with the Dark Knight from time to time.
It’ll be cool if Arrow uses this background, or if they go a different direction, using this origin as a template. Either way, it can’t hurt Ollie to have a character rooted in magic on his team!
Speaking of team…I need to touch on my second point that I mentioned in the beginning of this column.
I liked how Ollie chose to use that brutal Russian bell exercise as an introduction to the new team hopefuls. What I didn’t like was the response from the recruits. To me, they were unable to set aside their egos and see the bigger picture and point of the exercise. Instead of sucking it up and trying to figure out the drill, they chose to whine and complain. If I were Ollie, I would have cut them all right there. They’re lucky he’s lenient.
Let me put it to you like this: Do you know why Bruce never complained when he was training to become Batman, or when he built himself back up after Bane broke him? Determination. He knew what he had to do went beyond himself. He had to be selfless. The same goes for Ollie. He understands what it takes to be a hero. It’s not handed to you and no one holds your hand on your road to becoming a hero.
Pete Rose once said, “I’d walk through Hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.” Hopefully these recruits can find that level of dedication to becoming a hero. That’s what it takes.
Until next time,
Matt Ross covers Arrow as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club. Catch new episodes of Arrow Tuesdays at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW.