• Hangman, The #1



    Hangman, The #1
    Released by: Dark Circle Comics
    Released on: November 4th, 2015.
    Written by: Frank Tieri
    lllustrated by: Felix Ruiz
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    The first issue of this latest series from Archie Comics’ Dark Circle Comics imprint follows in the success of recent revamps under the brand like The Black Hood, The Fox and recently The Shield. Written by Frank Tieri, The Hangman starts out in the Dyer Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Here a husband and wife squabble amiably about breakfast. He’s in a rush to get to work but his daughter, Gabby, needs her toy out of the car trunk before he goes. He seems unsettled when the trunk is mentioned and he heads out to get the toy before his wife or daughter should become suspicious. Why? Because he’s got someone tied up and gagged in there. When the man in the trunk starts to make noise, he clocks him one, his daughter standing near him with her hands over her eyes as requested. She suspects nothing.

    The wife comes out, hands him his breakfast to go, and he splits. He drives out to Caesar’s Bay, unaware that a shadowy black figure is watching him. He takes the body out of the trunk, and they converse. The man’s name is Mike, Mikey Ice to his friends, and the guy in the trunk someone named Pete evidently foolish enough to play around with Johnny D’s well-endowed wife, Connie. And Johnny? He didn’t just want Pete whacked, he wanted Mike to get creative. That’s when Mike brings out a jar of strawberry jam, dumps it on Pete and leaves him for the rats. As the rats come for Pete, he yells at Mike about the Boia, the executioner in English, and how he’ll come for him. An urban legend, The Hangman, who comes for bad guys to take their souls to Hell.

    Mike’s gotta split, time to take care of Connie. Johnny’s paycheck is too god to walk away from and a man’s got to make a living. The rats get their lunch and Mike hops into his car. It’s then that he sees a man in a black hood in his rearview mirror.

    Well, it’s evident early on in this inaugural issue that Tieri isn’t pulling any punches, nor is he writing for a younger audience. This is dark stuff, the type of story that digs deep into the criminal underworld to offer up some of the worst – Mikey Ice? He’s a bad dude, a sicko who takes pleasure in killing for cash. Pete? A mouthy philanderer – but his warnings about the Boia would seem to be more than just an inherent belief in an old wives’ tale, at least if the last few pages are anything to go by. This is pretty gruesome stuff and while this first issue is obviously just a setup for what’s to come and therefore a little light in terms of actual story (“guy takes his mark out to the water, kills him and runs into trouble” more or less sums it up) there’s enough going on here that we want to know what will happen next.

    Felix Ruiz’s art is a bit reminiscent of Bill Sienkiewicz and Denys Cowan but without really aping their respective styles. It’s sketchy but very nicely detailed and appropriately gruesome when Tieri’s writing calls for it. It’s realistic enough to suit the story and it has a nice gritty quality to it that doesn’t overdo it. It’s also very well colored, so a tip of the hat is due to colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick.

    Be sure to flip through the back pages too – there’s an interesting essay in there from Sean T. Collins on the nature of evil and its place in horror fiction that’s worth a read. There’s a cool variant cover gallery in there too, showing off pieces from Tim Bradstreet, Francesco Francavilla and Robert Hack.