The Hangman #1 Review

The latest offering from Dark Circle is The Hangman #1. Because the Dark Circle line hasn’t been entirely successful in getting noticed among all of the events being put out by the larger superhero publishers, I decided to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised at what I found.

TheHangman#1THE HANGMAN #1

Script: Frank Tieri
Art: Felix Ruiz, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Rachel Deering
Cover: Timothy Bradstreet
Variant Covers: Felix Ruiz, Francesco Francavilla, Robert Hack
On Sale Date: 11/4
32-page, full color comic
$3.99 U.S.

They say the Hangman is nothing more than an urban legend. A spook story told to scare criminals straight. But those who encounter him—like hitman “Mad Dog” Mike Minetta—know different. They know that when he comes for you… you’re dead already. Join fan-favorite writer Frank Tieri (WOLVERINE, BATMAN) and artist extraordinaire Felix Ruiz (WOLVERINE MAX, HALO) for an ongoing tale of horror, the supernatural and violence… and learn why some men may never be redeemed.

Preview:

TheHangman_01-3 TheHangman_01-4 TheHangman_01-5

TheHangman_01-6 TheHangman_01-12 TheHangman_01-13

Review:

The Hangman has never held much interest for me. Like many of the old Archie Comics superheroes, he seems to have a lot of potential that’s never been realized, as past versions have been rooted too much in the superhero realm. Fortunately, for this version, Frank Tieri has created a version that builds on some of the supernatural elements that have been used before in the character, and kept the focus on fighting criminals, in this case a horrifically cruel one. I found myself repulsed several times by Mike Minetta, but fully satisfied by the end of the story. I think it ends a little too completely, seeming like a “done in one” story, but promises a continuation, making a character that had been a standard vigilante superhero something larger, an urban legend. The next issue’s cover promises a Hangman that looks less like a spandex-clad superhero and more along the lines of this new imagining.

That’s what this issue is, a meta acknowledgement of what the character has been and transformation of what the writer wants him to become. From a writing perspective, it follows a tradition of writing a story about a story, established in comics so well by Neil Gaiman, and showing the ambition of Frank Tieri in taking a character that has been an interesting footnote in the history of American comic books and transforming it into something larger.

Felix Ruiz really surprised me, too. His style is very reminiscent of Bill Sienkiewicz, but becomes more expressive as the story gets darker. The first page has the look that he is a good artist that is just about ready to develop into a really great stylistic storyteller, and within a few pages we see that his development has already happened, and that what had been perceived in the first couple of pages was actually just in service to the story. It’s refreshing to see an artist serve the story instead of feeling like he or she has an obligation to the story first. Too many artists try to make every page serve their own needs first and the story second. This was refreshing and made the story enjoyable. The climatic fight between Mike and the Hangman lacked a feeling of believable space, but was easy to follow and adds a surrealistic flair to a character that is on the more realistic side of the supernatural, so it’s forgivable in the larger scheme.

Dark Circle is an imprint worth checking out, especially given the example that this issue sets of the type of stories that they’re trying to tell. Archie Comics is quickly becoming the publisher to watch.

Variant Covers:

TheHangman#1FFvarweb TheHangman#1Hackvarweb TheHangman#1var