WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Ragman #4 by Ray Fawkes and Inaki Miranda, in stores now.
The new Ragman series by Ray Fawkes and Inaki Miranda has been re-introducing the character inside DC Rebirth continuity. The series is effectively a complete re-imagining, giving him a new look, a new origin and a completely new mythology. In the character’s Rebirth direction, the magical Rags Rory Regan wears are demon-born, coming from a place very much like Hell, and it is not the only one of its kind. In fact, many other rag-wearing demons are haunting the streets of Gotham City.
Throughout the limited series, we’ve learned more and more about the suit, about its true nature and its capabilities, and in Ragman #4, we find out how the suit originally came to be on Earth. As it happens, this particular part of the story holds a connection with a Grant Morrison and Simone Bianchi creation: Ystina, the Shining Knight.
The earthly origin of the Rags comes from a unlikely source: Etrigan the Demon. However, considering that Etrigan is actually a spawn from Hell, it makes sense for the character to know details about magical rags and demonic forces. Thanks to Etrigan, Rory unlocks even more of the suit’s powers. As the young hero continues to acclimate to the power that he wields, the rhyming Demon tells him all about how, in ancient medieval times, the Rags were summoned by a wizard.
The suit was originally used as a weapon, wielded by a knight in battle to use against the forces of evil. However, Ystina the Shining Knight, most noble of heroes with the purest of hearts, saw the suit for the evil that it was. The Knight defeated the possessed knight in battle and sought to remove the haunted rags from the reach of man. To that end, the medieval hero buried them in a sarcophagus deep in a temple in the Israeli desert, where it would only be found millennia later by Rory and his team of fellow soldiers.
Ystina, the female version of the Shining Knight, was created by Morrison and Bianchi as part of the writer’s Seven Soldiers of Victory series. When the New 52 relaunched DC’s continuity, Ystina was re-introduced as a transgender character in writer Paul Cornell’s Demon Knights title. Though biologically female, this incarnation of the Shining Knight identified as male, a fact that played a large part in the hero’s character arc in the series.
Though the Shining Knight appears in the issue for only a few panels, without speaking a word, the appearance confirms the character’s existence in DC’s constantly shifting Rebirth continuity. Whether we’re seeing the New 52 incarnation or Morrison and Bianchi’s version reasserting its place in continuity (Etrigan’s story noticeably avoids any mention of gender) remains a mystery — for now.
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