The comic starts with the eponymous superhero going on "one last mission" with his sidekick Milt, who is an actual rat. He investigates a lab, wherein he finds a Tiki key that he's sure is important. Also, a rat bites him and disappears into his hand. One short altercation with a (literally) dog-faced security guard later, he absconds with the key and rushes off to his dinner date with his girlfriend Gina, to whom he plans to propose.
The dinner does not go as planned. He undergoes a physical transformation into a human/rat hybrid, which is very unfortunate considering Gina is deathly afraid of rats. He shoves a menu in her face and spills wine on her blouse, then leaves without a trace.
Thus is the origin of Ratfist.
The comic is professionally drawn, and the creator's trademark oddball humor is in full force. It ended at 150 strips on August 5, 2011.
This webcomic contains the following tropes:
- Affably Evil: Space Tiki. So much so that you don't even realize it until he reveals that he invented cancer.
- Anti-Hero: Judging by some of the other things the tail has to say about Ricky's subconscious.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The dog-faced security guard does this:"You're trespassing, under arrest, and speak with an effeminate demeanor."
- Author Tract: A space-time warp causes Ratfist to end up in Doug Tennapel's home. This leads to Ratfist and Doug's daughter getting into a minor argument over religion. Considering the little girl gets the better argument, it could either be seen as Doug taking a shot at atheism or mocking the idea of an atheist starring in a fantasy comic.
- The Fairness Council is a tyrannical, oppressive leftist organization. Doug TenNapel is Republican. Make of that what you will.
- Bad Future: Space Tiki-enabled time travel drops Rick off in a future where an oppressive government rules over the city, Gina has cancer, and everyone Rick respects is either a member of the oppressive government or is no longer an atheist.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
- The Space Tiki gets Ratfist out of a bad situation by swapping places with Ratfist's "pagan creator". Ratfist and the Tiki vanish, and a tall cartoonist appears in their place...
- Later it turns out Mr. Black ended up with the pages TenNapel made after the switcheroo was reversed, which contain the entire story up until the point where he explains where he got the pages.
- Cats Have Nine Lives: Mr. Black certainly does.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Ratfist himself is a bit of one, but he doesn't compare to Senator Ferrar, who wears a tutu over his suit. In later strips though, Ratfist's severed tail is the biggest CCL of them all.
- Contrived Clumsiness: In the first few pages, Ricky throws his wine all over Gina so she won't notice that he's turning into a rat.
- Did You Get a New Haircut?: Rick's friends' reaction to his transformation.Rick: Look at my face!
Tad: Did you do something to your hair?
Sheldon: ...Like put it all over your face?
- Evil All Along: Sheldon
- Heroic Sacrifice: Ricky bonds his soul with his fiance, absorbs her cancer and leaves her body, causing his soul to disappear to wherever souls go.
- Ironic Echo: "I love you more than me." The first time Ricky says it, it showcases what an oblivious narcissist he is. The second time he says it, it showcases just how much his character has developed right before his Heroic Sacrifice.
- Manchild: Judging by some of the things the tail has to say about Ricky's subconscious.
- One-Word Title: Also a Protagonist Title.
- Our Monsters Are Different: A talking severed rat tail whose mouth is the open wound from where it was cut off in the first place. It's probably safe to say that we're squarely in Widget territory at this point.
- Physical God: Space Tiki.
- Power Trio: After the transformation, Ricky is the Ego, Milt is the Superego, and the Tail is the Id.
- Protagonist Title: Also a One-Word Title.
- Shout-Out: Several to Doug's previous work and to other comics.
- The waiter is Hovis.
- Klaymen can be spotted on a television screen.
- Sheldon complains that his copy of Cop Axe is out of order.
- Ratfist crosses paths with Earthworm Jim.
- There is a cat character named Mr. Black.
- Waffle appears as a Happy Meal toy.
- There are multiple Shout Outs to Spider-Man.
- The hero bumps into an Expy of Spidey, who was bitten by a radioactive saw-cutting-a-can-of-Spam-on-a-miter... so his name is Miter-Spam.
- Various visual Shout Outs abound, to the point where one page that was drawn by a former Spider-Man artist.
- Rat Men: The lab Ratfist investigates is apparently producing these. He gets turned into one himself.
- Sudden Downer Ending: Well, technically more bittersweet than downer, but it's still really dark and downbeat compared to what the series started out as.
- Take That!: Ratfist punches a trio of furries on his way back to his apartment, including one in a Sonic the Hedgehog-esque costume...
- When the mask on one of the costumes comes off, it reveals a balding middle-aged man underneath.
- In the midst of a horribly dystopic future, Ratfist complains that "L.A. is even more of a dump now!" (And in his commentary for the page, TenNapel calls Los Angeles a "jerk magnet.")
- Take That Me: This page features the characters of the comic conversing with a young girl, deriding the guy who would raise his kids in a house full of all this propaganda. And by "young girl" I mean "Doug's daughter".
- Third-Person Person: Space Tiki
- Trademark Favorite Food: Ricky loves chili so much that, should he find a fresh bowl on the ground in the middle of the sidewalk, he will eat it with barely a second thought.
- Transformation Comic: Ricky's transformation into a human/rat hybrid.
- You Fight Like a Cow:Caleb: Let me show you what dog dexterity adds to the human body!
Ratfist: Let me show you what human dexterity adds to your face! [punches Caleb]