Very brief summary of the previous episodes: “the” Rat-Man (or the Shadow) has taken control of Rat-Man (the one we all know) and is trying to conquer the world by creating a sort of religious cult from messianic contours. In the meantime, the hero – on which plane of existence is not clear – met Aima, the woman loved by the Incredible Ik (a parody of the Hulk to which we will return shortly). This was the beginning of the long saga (in ten parts) which will lead Leo Ortolani to conclude the adventures of Rat-Man.

We are on the third episode, and if you missed our analyzes of the first two you can retrieve them HERE. Without further ado, let’s proceed with the story titled…

The doubt:

As already noted for the last issue, the saga seems to proceed like a puzzle, of which each episode is a tile. This story largely sets aside the character of the Rat-Man (with the article), to bring out the figure of his henchman, the character replicated endlessly with the features of Hugo Weaving born to parody matrix (Rat Man Collection no. 45) and then remained as a servant of the Shadow. As already happened with Clara in the previous episode, so too this character now acquires traits that go beyond the so far ordinary – and obvious, for such a third-level character – two-dimensionality.

Going deeper into the side characters may seem like an accessory practice, with almost sentimental implications, but in reality it hides a purpose of no small importance: to make people understand how everything has relevance, in a narrative universe that has had to recover organicity along the way, not being born to have such an iron continuity.

About the personalities of the charactersin the now usual half of the story dedicated to the original Rat-Man, we witness a journey into his psyche which instead showcases the varied facets of the character, even in moments of pure comedy as very old fans might like.

Finally, also in this episode, Ortolani pushes on the metanarrative pedal, even inserting himself (and the brave editor Andrea Plazzi) into the story. Playing with different narrative plans and registers helps the author to always insist on the same point, which has now become one of the central themes of the saga: Was the Rat-Man of the early days really better, the one who only made you laugh without too many pretensions?

rat man 115

Scattered annotations:

– Perhaps it goes without saying, but Rat-Man’s journey into his own psyche seems like a parody of Inside Outanimated film by Pixar released in 2015. Or maybe it’s a reference to the American sit-com we know as But what’s on your mind? (Herman’s Head) of 1991, also broadcast by Rai 1.

– It was said of the Incredible Ik. The character originated as a yellow-skinned parody of the Hulk in issue no. 10 (May 1997) of Rat-Man stapled. The story was born in particular from the author’s passion for the 1970s TV series with Lou Ferrigno. Now Ortolani revives it fleetingly and solves an enigma that has remained pending since its debut.

– This month we find it difficult to grasp the quote on the cover (if there is one), despite consulting the entire editorial team gathered in plenary form. But remember a bit ‘the cover of Incredible Hulk #5 (January 1963). Will we have got it right?

Rat-Man no. 115: In the Shadow of the Shadow