The Tattooed Man
The Tattooed Man(pop culture)
In an era when skin decorations were worn mainly by sailors and bikers, light-fingered seaman Abel Tarrant is exposed to chemicals that allow him to animate tattoos in Green Lantern vol. 2 #23 (1963). Adorning his epidermis with tattooed weapons and vicious creatures, this Tattooed Man brings fighter aircrafts, robots, knives, bombs, and other dangers on his skin to “life” merely by touching them, attacking Green Lantern (GL). Visually modeled after John Wayne by artist Gil Kane and characterized with “sailor speak” by writer Gardner Fox, for the next two decades the Tattooed Man appeared irregularly, tangling with GL and the Justice League of America, and joining other supervillains as the Injustice Gang. Many readers regarded Tarrant's superpower as ridiculous, and in Green Lantern #144 (1981) the Tattooed Man was executed after being caught stealing from fellow rogue Goldface. Changes in fashion ultimately proved that Fox and Kane were decades ahead of their time. In the 1990s, when tattoos had become popular, John Oakes, a former cellmate of Tarrant's who had learned his secrets, starred in Skin Graft: The Adventures of a Tattooed Man #1–#4 (1993), in DC Comics' “mature readers” Vertigo imprint. Oakes' supernatural tattoos allowed him to ensnare people by converting them into body embellishments. It was revealed in the 2000s that the original Tattooed Man was alive, having survived Goldface's assassination attempt. After briefly going straight, Tarrant, whose skin is an elaborate tapestry of tattooed terrors and body piercings, returned to villainy in the pages of The Outsiders in 2004.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.