Tattooed Man

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The Tattooed Man is the name of two of Green Lantern's greatest enemies, as well as of one related character.

Abel Tarrant

The first Tattooed Man first appeared in Green Lantern v2, #23 (1963). Abel Tarrant was a sailor based in Coast City who turned to burglary. During one of his heists, he was exposed to a bunch of mysterious chemicals which left him with the mental ability to create actual objects from the chemicals. When he got back from the robbery, he tattooed himself using the chemicals so he would always have the chemicals near him. Some of the shapes he was able to conjure from his tattoos were an axe, shield, cannon, and dragon. The Tattooed Man originally had the advantage against Green Lantern because the chemicals' base was yellow (though the tattoos themselves were usually shown as purple). The Emerald Gladiator eventually beat the Tattooed Man by making him concentrate on more than one of his tattoos. The Tattooed Man would return, however, as a member of the Injustice Gang. While previously he had tattooed only his arms (that he may hide them under a shirt), by this point he has tattooed much of his body, including his face. Tarrant would fall along with the rest of the Injustice Gang, and his activities would remain mysterious for some time. Tarrant was eventually murdered by the Goldface mafia for trying to con them. Apparently surviving, years later he would reform as a tattoo artist, involuntarily being forced to battle Guy Gardner in Green Lantern Vol. 3 #2, and later appearing at the funeral for Hal Jordan in Green Lantern Vol. 3 #81. Still later, he would attend the funeral of former Injustice Gang teammate David Clinton, aka Chronos, in Chronos #6. While Clinton left Tarrant his 1965 Mustang, what he really wanted was Clinton's time travel equipment. Forcing the secret of time travel out of Walker Gabriel, he unsuccessfully attempted to dissuade himself from becoming the Tattooed Man, before Walker dragged him back to the present. He made an appearance in Villains United: Infinite Crisis Special #1 trying to escape from Alcatraz only to be stopped by Arsenal.

He resurfaced as a member of the Suicide Squad in Checkmate #6, saying that despite his attempted reform, he couldn't escape his past and was upset the new Tattooed Man had been accepted into the Society. He was apparently killed by Mirror Master and Jewelee when it turned out that he betrayed the Squad to the Society.

John Oakes

The second Tattooed Man was John Oakes, the main character of the Vertigo series Skin Graft: The Adventures of a Tattooed Man by Jerry Prosser and Warren Pleece. Oakes first appeared in Skin Graft #1 (July 1993).

A cellmate of Abel Tarrant, John Oakes learned the art of tattoo - with a supernatural edge - from his fellow prisoner. After being released from jail, Oakes learned that his strange tattoos were a curse as well as a blessing as his tattoos now opened arcane 'doors' and could involuntarily trap people as 'tattoos' on his own body. Further studying for the Irezumi master Kobo in Kyoto, Oakes learned to control his strange abilities, and finally defeated both Tarrant and the 'tattoo killer' Mizoguchi Kenji by absorbing them. However, Oakes' beloved Yuko died in the battle as well, which prompted him to make her part of his own self.

Mark Richards

The third Tattooed Man first appeared in Green Lantern Vol. 4 #9. Mark Richards was a former U.S. Marine who went missing after his helicopter crashed a few years ago. He was presumed dead until he showed up in Gotham as a hit man. All his victims had tattoos of their sins. He was eventually stopped by Green Lantern and Batman.

In Infinite Crisis, Mark becomes a member of the Secret Society of Super Villains. He appears in Justice League of America #17, as one of a group of villains seeking to avoid being sent to the prison planet.

Similar characters

  • A woman named Tattoo appeared in the comic book Aztek as part of a Lex Luthor-funded group named "Dial V for Villain". She displayed powers similar to Abel Tarrant's.
  • A young girl named Pix appeared in Batman: Gotham Knights. Her powers were virtually identical to those of the Tattooed Man, save her powers were nanotechnological in origin rather than chemical exposure.
  • A character named "Abel Terror" represents a circus tattooed man in the Freakshow expansion of the game Horrorclix.

Other media

In Justice League Unlimited, the first Tattooed Man has appeared as a member of Grodd's Secret Society. He was briefly seen during the Society's attack in Gorilla City where he was punched by Batman.

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