• Hangman, The #2

    Hangman, The #2
    Released by: Dark Circle Comics
    Released on: January 20th, 2016.
    Written by: Frank Tieri
    Illustrated by: Felix Ruiz
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    Picking up where the first issue left off, our mob hitman, Mikey Ice, wakes up in a cell from what was clearly a pretty intense dream. He doesn’t remember getting arrest though, all he remembers is “that hooded screwball.” Then Mike realizes the cell he’s in isn’t locked. He opens it and wanders through the prison and realizes he’s alone, or almost alone… you know, save for the reanimated corpses of all of his victims coming back to haunt him.

    Clearly Mike has gone to Hell. If he wasn’t aware of it at first, he figures it out when he sees Satan himself take the form of a massive horned demon stretching his wings in front of him. To be less of a cliché, the devil takes a human form. They talk. Mike has been very good for business, but as deserving as Mike is to suffer the tortures of the damned, the guy upstairs has different plans for him. Mikey gives Satan attitude and has his head bitten off for his trouble, but isn’t killed. No, there are definitely plans for him and those plans involve The Hangman, the guy who killed Mike and sent him to Hell in the first place. It turns out that there have been a series of Hangmen throughout the years and that the one that sent Mike to Hell has been chosen to ascend. Now the people who run the show, the powers that be in Heaven, they want Mike to replace him back there on Earth.

    Frank Tieri’s clearly got a knack for writing tough guys. Mike’s a tough, the Devil is a tough guy – most of this issue is comprised of the two of them talking, there isn’t a lot of action here, but because Tieri has this knack, it makes for a great read. There are some genuinely funny moments in here too, be it some of the comebacks that come out during their back and forth or a casual observation about life in Hell (Who’s The Boss reruns appear on TV in the underworld?). This second issue bridges the events of the first with what are clearly big things still to come. It’s all character development, but it’s good character development, the kind you want to read, the kind that will make what happens next mean something. We’re left wanting more, wanting to know why Mike was chosen, what he’ll make of this opportunity and how he’ll deal with what are sure to be a whole new set of rules.

    The strong writing is complimented really well by Felix Ruiz’s interior artwork. He channels Bill Sienkiewicz and Denys Cowan at times, the sketchy styles so often associated with those two artists is a big part of Ruiz’s style too, but he’s got his own thing going on. There’s a lot of detail here, but so too are there are few panels such as the opening page that are impressive in their minimalism and simple use of shadow. He does a fine job of making Hell look appropriately dire, but so too does he render its inhabitants really nicely. The end result is artwork that perfectly suits the gritty, dark, twisted tone of the writing.

    And if that weren’t enough to get you hooked, the back pages contain an essay called Le Diable Amoureux: A Study Of Evil by Sean To Collins that does an interesting job of explaining the appeal and the allure of the Devil and why we continue to be fascinated by him. A variant cover by Mike Huddleston is also available if you prefer that over the regular cover (which is, admittedly, pretty fantastic) provided by artist Tim Bradstreet.