Tattooed Man

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

Tattooed Man
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceAbel Tarrant: Green Lantern v2, #23 (September 1963)
John Oakes: Skin Graft: The Adventures of a Tattooed Man #1 (July 1993)
Mark Richards: Green Lantern (4th series) #9 (2006).
Created byGardner Fox and Gil Kane
In-story information
Alter egoAbel Tarrant
John Oakes
Mark Richards
Team affiliationsAbel Tarrant
Injustice Gang of the World
The Society
Suicide Squad
Mark Richards
The Society
Justice League
AbilitiesLiving tattoos

The first Tattooed Man first appeared in Green Lantern vol. 2, #23 (September 1963) and was created by Gardner Fox and Gil Kane.[1]

A version of the Tattooed Man called Tattoo Man appears as a recurring character in the television series Black Lightning, portrayed by William Catlett. This version of the character is named Latavius "Lala" Johnson.

Fictional character biographyEdit

Abel TarrantEdit

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.[2] 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.[3] 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 thought murdered by the Goldface mafia for trying to con them. Obviously surviving, years later he would reform as a tattoo artist involuntarily being forced to battle Guy Gardner.[4]

Tattooed Man later appearing at the funeral for Hal Jordan.[5]

Still later, he would attend the funeral of former Injustice Gang teammate David Clinton, aka Chronos. 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.[6]

He made an appearance in Villains United: Infinite Crisis Special #1 trying to escape from Alcatraz only to be stopped by Arsenal.[7]

He resurfaced as a member of the Suicide Squad saying that despite his attempted reform, he could not 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 and caused the death of Jewelee's husband and partner-in-crime Punch.[8]

In the "Watchmen" sequel "Doomsday Clock," Tarrant is among the villains that attend the underground meeting held by Riddler that talks about the Superman Theory. He states that Sanctuary "screwed up" Mark Richards.[9][10]

John OakesEdit

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.[11]

Mark RichardsEdit

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 City as a hit man. He claimed that the tattoos covering his body were the sins of men he had killed and that by the art of "sin-grafting", which he had learned from the nation of Modora, in which he takes the sins of others and puts them on himself, he claimed to be redeeming the men and women he killed. 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 Society.[12]

He appears as one of a group of villains seeking to avoid being sent to the prison planet.[13]

In "Trinity," reality is altered by the removal of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. In this world, Morgaine Le Fay's recruits, the Dreambound, recruit Richards to replace one of their fallen number. He becomes Sun-Chained-In-Ink and gains the ability to control the awesome powers of the sun itself: heat, light, and gravity. As the series progresses, Richards comes to dislike the Dreambound, deeming them "losers". Reality eventually begins returning to normal and the original Sun-Chained-In-Ink is resurrected, severing Richards from his new powers. However, he still allies himself with Le Fey and Despero when the Crime Syndicate attacks.

In "Final Crisis," he is first seen taking Metropolis detective Dan Turpin to the entrance to the Dark Side Club. In the fourth issue, he and his family are Anti-Life survivors, hiding in an abandoned school from Darkseid's Justifiers. His wife sends out a signal to be rescued by the surviving heroes. Black Lightning shows up to save them and, before being captured, asks Mark to deliver "The Circuit" to the Hall of Justice. While his family is taken to a Checkmate Watchtower, he joins up with the survivors in the Hall where he tattoos the circuit on his skin, turning it silver with symbols reminiscent of the New God Metron. In the sixth issue, Mark is on the JLA satellite with the other survivors. Looking down on the earth with wonder, Mark resolves to never again take his powers for granted, prompting Black Canary to make him an honorary member of the Justice League. The satellite is then attacked by Justifiers and the brainwashed Black Lightning, and Mark discovers that the circuit protects him from the effects of the Anti-Life Equation.

In "Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink," Richards is shown attempting to be a hero in his Washington D.C. neighborhood, Liberty Hill. He clashes with the neighborhood's gangs and crooked cops while also trying to keep his family together. Meanwhile, two of his tattoos, a samurai named Kabuki Dan and a demoness named Altera, come to life and begin acting without Richards' consent. This is revealed to be the result of the supervillain behind the gangs and the cops: Sync, Richards' own brother who everyone thought long dead. Eventually, Richards realizes Altera and Kabuki Dan are just aspects of his own mind. Working together, the three of them are able to confuse Sync's mind control powers and beat him.

In DC's "Brightest Day" event, Mark appears as a member of Deathstroke's new team of Titans[14] He is convinced to join by Deathstroke who offers to help him track down Slipknot, the person responsible for murdering his son.[15] After a breakout at Arkham Asylum, Richards was about to leave his team until Deathstroke reveals that he has captured Slipknot for him.[16] Deathstroke allows the two to fight to the death, with Richards winning after he beheads Slipknot.[17] After this act, Richards quits Deathstroke's team, declaring that he is done with killing.[18] When Richards returns to Liberty Hill, he discovers his old neighborhood is afraid of him and the gangbangers have forced citizens and even the police themselves to clean up the area. His former assistant explains to him that they have taken control of the community and made a fortune for themselves through crime. Richards was then confronted by Vixen who believed that he was responsible for the acts of violence committed by his former thugs. Vixen rescinds her offer of Justice League membership and attacks Richards.[19] After a brutal fight, Vixen willingly surrenders and Richards agrees to leave her and take care of his neighborhood in his own way.[20] Richards later rejoins Deathstroke's Titans. Upon returning to the labyrinth, Deathstroke reveals to them that the items the Titans collected were used to form a healing machine called the "Methuselah Device", intended to restore his dying son, Jericho.[21] After healing Jericho, Deathstroke declares that the machine can also resurrect the dead, including Richards' son. Richards initially accepts but after Cinder declares the Methuselah Device a curse, he joins her and Arsenal in fighting the other Titans to destroy it.[22] After Cinder sacrifices herself to destroy the Methuselah Device, Richards returns home.[23]

In 2011, DC Comics rebooted the DC Universe as part of "The New 52". During the "Forever Evil" storyline, Tattooed Man appears as a member of the Crime Syndicate of America's incarnation of the Secret Society of Super Villains. In the aftermath of the Crime Syndicate's defeat, he was seen with its members when the Justice League apprehend them.[24]

During the "Heroes in Crisis" storlyine, Tattooed Man is shown as a patient at Sanctuary.[25] He was among those killed when Wally West lost control of the Speed Force enough to unleash and explosive blast.[26]

In the "Watchmen" sequel "Doomsday Clock," Abel Tarrant mentioned about what happened to Mark at the villain meeting.[10]

Powers and abilitiesEdit

Each of the Tattooed Man versions can bring their tattoos to life.

Collected EditionsEdit

  • Final Crisis: Submit One-Shot
  • Crisis Aftermath: Ink (Collects Crisis Aftermath: Ink #1-6)
  • Titans: Villains for Hire (Collects Titans 24-27 and Titans: Villains for Hire Special #1)

Other versionsEdit


In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Tattooed Man is a member of Deathstroke's pirates. After ambush by Aquaman and Ocean Master, Tattooed Man was stabbed in Ocean Master's spear. As Scavenger open fires on Aquaman he dodge and the blaster shred Tattooed Man.[27]

Similar charactersEdit

  • 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, but 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.

In other mediaEdit


  • The Abel Tarrant version of Tattooed Man appears in Justice League Unlimited. Tattooed Man assisted the Legion in the assault to Gorilla City. When the Justice League showed up, Tattooed Man was briefly punched by Batman. He also witnessed when the Flash, in Lex Luthor's body, addressed the Legion.
  • The Mark Richards version of Tattooed Man appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Scorn of the Star Sapphire!", voiced by Michael Jai White. Tattooed Man lived only for the thrill of battle. He recently robbed a bank in Coast City but was pursued by Batman and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan). Batman used an ultrasonic gun to disorient Tattooed Man and applied the finishing blow. Green Lantern caught him and turned him over to the police.
  • The Flashpoint version of Mark Richards appears in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.
  • The Abel Tarrant version of Tattooed Man appears in the Green Lantern: The Animated Series tie-in comic in Issue #4 "Tattooed You".[28] Some time in the past, by unknown methods Abel had radioactive ink which could bring his tattoos to life. He used it for his criminal activities, but Green Lantern took him on and brought him to jail, where he had his tattoos removed, but he had a hidden stash which he gave to a tattoo shop employee. After he escaped from prison he returned to the tattoo shop and received four new tattoos (with one of the tattoos being a heart symbol as a reminder of his mother). After he came out of the tattoo shop, Green Lantern confronted him, but Abel quickly used his tattoos (a lion, Major Trouble (a Captain America-esque super-soldier) and a sentient toy robot) to distract Green Lantern and escape. At a market he wanted to find gladiolas, but could not get them, while shortly after he was confronted by Green Lantern once again. He was defeated by Hal using serums to change his tattoos, but before he was sent to jail, Abel received help from Green Lantern to get some gladiolas to give to his mother for her birthday; the fourth tattoo he owned.
  • The Mark Richards version of Tattooed Man appears as a background student in DC Superhero Girls.
  • A variation of Tattooed Man called Tattoo Man appears as a recurring character in the first season of Black Lightning, portrayed by William Catlett. This version of the character is named Latavius "Lala" Johnson, a former student of Jefferson Pierce and current member of the 100 Gang. After being killed by Tobias Whale for his repeated failures to kill Black Lightning, he was reanimated by unknown means. As a side effect, he's forced to see the ghosts of those he killed and have their faces forcibly tattooed onto his body. In addition, the phrase "the Devil deals the cards" forces him to become obedient to Whale. After revealing this revival to Latavius and calling him "Tattoo Man", Whale used him as a bomb mule in a plot to kill A.S.A. agent Martin Proctor. This plan failed as two A.S.A. agents perish while Martin is safely evacuated from the interrogation room. In season 2, Lala later returns from the dead again and confronts Pierce to ask about his old friend Earl, who was killed. Despite some arguing between his ghosts, Lala learns that Earl was killed moments after he went to the police about the 100 and that he was the one who killed him. On his way out, he sees Earl's ghost as his tattoo manifests on the left part of his abdomen. While recalling how Lazarus Prime, a coroner with an axe to grind against Whale, put him back together, Lala plans to redeem himself by getting revenge on Tobias. In the season 2 finale, Lala saves Black Lightning by shooting Heatstroke and confronts Tobias after Cutter left him. While "the Devil deals the cards" doesn't work on him anymore, Whale quotes "E pluribus unum", which causes the tattoos of Lala's victims to surface on him and painfully incapacitate him. In season three, Lala has recovered with the briefcase in his possession. He begins another attempt at revenge on Tobias Whale while gaining control of the remnants of the 100. Lala finds that Lady Eve is operating on his turf. In a later meeting, she reveals that she came up with the programming used on Lala including another one that makes him obedient to her. In the season finale, Lady Eve's servant Destiny has Lala lead the remnants of the 100 into assisting in the fight against the invading Markovian soldiers.



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