Rat-Man is an Italian comic about an inept superhero of the same name, created by Leonardo Ortolani in 1989. Although it was initially meant to be a satire of other superheroes, most prominently Batman, it has since evolved into an independent comic sporting a complex, evolving continuity. The comic is well known for its nonsense humor à-la Monty Python, its engaging storytelling and its frequent breaking of the fourth wall. Ortolani often pays both direct and indirect tribute to other comic authors (Jack Kirby above everyone else) and he frequently makes his characters use pop-culture references, either generic or specific to the native Italian context and background. The comic is currently being published by Panini Comics both as new installments under the name of Rat-Man Collection and as reprints of older stories in Tutto Rat-Man.
The character of Rat-Man appeared for the first time in the second issue of Spot, a supplement to the Italian magazine L'Eternauta #86 of June 1990, shortly after Leonardo Ortolani won a young artists' contest. From 1990 to 1995 Rat-Man was published on the fanzine Made in USA. After the debut, Leo Ortolani chose to self-publish the comic alongside his primary job as a geologist; however, in 1997 Leo signed a contract with Marvel Italia, today a brand owned by Panini Comics (and, at the time, a branch of Marvel Comics itself), to publish the comic under the Marvel brand, which allowed Leonardo to become a full-time comics author. The contract also allowed him to use popular Marvel characters like Captain America, Wolverine, Doctor Doom and Elektra in Rat-Man stories; however, copyright problems have since prohibited such use of characters in the Rat-Man world.
Leo Ortolani stated his intention to close the series with issue #100, which would be published around January 2014 if no changes are made to the current bi-monthly publishing schedule. He later on remarked how this was a joke not to be taken seriously (as on Rat-Man #92), and that the series would have ended after #100.