Abel Tarrant was a sailor in Coast City who became a burglar. During one of his heists, he was exposed to chemicals which left him with the ability to create actual objects from them. When he got back from the robbery, he tattooed himself with the chemicals so he would always have them close to him. Among the things he could create were axes, cannons, shields and even dragons.
The Tattooed Man had the upper hand against the Green Lantern. The Emerald Gladiator eventually bested the Tattooed Man by making him concentrate on more than one of his tattoos, thus confusing him.
The Tattooed Man later returned as a member of the Injustice Gang. Previously he only had his arms tattooed, but he had now tattooed his entire body, including his face. The Tattooed Man fell with the rest of the Injustice Gang when they were betrayed.
At one point, Tarrant was seemingly murdered by the "Goldface Mafia" for trying to con them. Apparently surviving though, years later he would reform as a tattoo artist, but involuntarily be forced to battle Guy Gardner.
Tarrant spent several years in prison after this encounter. In prison he met John Oakes, a petty criminal. Tarrant took a shine to Oakes and the two became cellmates. Tarrant began mentoring Oakes on the secrets of tattoo work. Oakes didn’t realize that Tarrant was working for a Yakuza crime boss named Mizoguchi Kenji. He wanted to deliver Oakes as a commission to Kenji so that the Yakuza could tap into the power of the magic. Tarrant and Oakes met again, this time as enemies. Oakes’ ability to tap into the magic of the tattoos was more powerful than Tarrant’s and he was able to defeat him.
He appeared at Hal Jordan’s funeral and attended the funeral of his former Injustice Gang teammate David Clinton, better known as Chronos. Clinton left him his 1965 Mustang, but Tarrant only wanted Clinton’s time travel equipment. He forced the secret of time travel out of Walker Gabriel, who attempted to dissuade him from becoming the Tattooed Man.
His next appearance was during the “Villains United” event, where he tried to escape from Alcatraz in the massive Society supervillain breakout, but he was stopped by Arsenal.
He later surfaced as a member of the Suicide Squad, stating that despite his attempts to reform he had been unable to escape his past. He was very upset that the new Tattooed Man had been accepted into the Society.
He was apparently killed by Mirror Master and Jewelee when it became clear he betrayed the Squad to the Society.
Powers & Abilities
The Tattooed Man has the ability to mentally control and animate his tattoos by touching the region of his body where the tattoo is located. The effects of the tattoo depend on his commands. He has the strength level of a normal human who engages in intensive regular exercise.
When serving with the U.S. Marines, Mark Richards went missing when his helicopter exploded, and he was presumed dead for several years. He then appeared in Gotham City, operating as a hit man with the aid of seemingly living tattoos. He claimed that these tattoos were formed from the sins of people he had killed, placed on his skin through a process called sin-grafting, learned in Modora. He believed that by taking the sins on himself, he was redeeming the souls of those he had slain. All of his victims had tattoos representing their sins. His actions were brought to an end by Green Lantern and Batman.
Later, like most powered evil-doers, Mark became a member of the Secret Society of Super Villains. He was among those Society members who sought refuge at the Hall of Justice, so that he wouldn't be exiled to Checkmate's prison planet, where many villains had already been sent.
Still later, he took Metropolis detective Dan Turpin to the Dark Side Club. As the Anti-Life Equation took hold on Earth, he hid with his family from Darkseid's Justifiers, and saved the life of Justice League member Black Lightning, who was being pursued by them. Black Lighting in turn saved Mark's family and gave them time to get away, though he himself was caught in the process. He gave Mark a mission - to deliver a message to Green Arrow and to carry with him "The Circuit". Mark did so, and his actions were instrumental in breaking Darkseid's control over Earth. For his deeds, he was granted honorary membership in the JLA.
Later, Mark Richards joined forces with Deathstroke in order to avenge the death of his son at the hands of Slipknot. He is instrumental in the death of The Atom, Ryan Choi, an act that haunts him.
He also appeared in batman the Brave and the Bold where attacked Green Lantern's home town and fought Batman. He almost escaped by using a bird tatoo but was then stopped by Green Lantern.