Publisher: DC Comics (1976-86)
Includes: Ragman #1-5, The Batman Family #20, The Brave and the Bold #196, DC Who's Who #19
I never read the original series. However, I did read Brave and Bold #19 and Ragman's Who's Who entry. The Pre-Crisis Ragman embodied to me...a poor-man's Batman or rather a Batman for the poor man. While Batman busied himself with costumed fools Ragman dealt with real people in real neighborhoods with real problems. The post-crisis Ragman loses that connection to the people; which is too bad, because it's what made him stand apart.
Clipped from Wikipedia:
A Vietnam veteran, Rory had grown up helping his father, a junk man who owned a pawn shop named Rags'n'Tatters. His father always dreamed of making a better life for Rory and constantly promised that someday he would make Rory rich. While drinking with his friends one night, his father discovered 2 million dollars stuffed inside an old mattress that had been pawned just recently. He and his friends decided to hide the money for Rory, since they were too old to truly benefit from it. The money turned out to be the loot from an armored car heist and when the hoods came to the shop one night to get it, they shot down some electrical wires and used them to torture Rory's father and his friends into revealing where the money was hidden. Rory arrived soon after and seeing his father in agony attempted to pull him free from the wires. A final shock of power ran though the old men and grounded out at Rory, knocking him unconscious. When he woke his father and friends were dead and the hoods responsible were gone. Using a costume made out of old rags (his father had made it before he died so Rory could wear it to a costume party) he became Ragman, "The Tatterdemalion of Justice".
In this pre-crisis history Rory apparently had gained the physical abilities of the men who were electrocuted as they were all touching when the final blow of electricity flew through them and into Rory. He had the agility of a world class acrobat, the strength of a circus strongman and the fighting ability of a heavy weight prize fighter. What he received from his father is unknown other than his obvious desire to take care of the neighborhood by spreading hope as his father did with the pawn shop. In his pre-Crisis incarnation, Rory Regan was Irish, not Jewish, as explicitly stated in the letters page of Ragman #3.