Dark Circle Comics has done it again, folks. With The Hangman #1, they have successfully updated an old character to the modern age with all the intrigue and darkness there should be, in a fantastic debut that is Spawn meets Sin City.
Issue #1 follows a gentleman named Mike Minetta, who at first appears to be a pretty respectable family guy, but soon turns out to be a hit man, one with a living body in his trunk that he has to kill and get rid of without the wife and kid knowing. Mike makes his way to an isolated dock with the victim, Pete, where he reveals why he’s going to kill him. Then “he” comes up, the urban legend who gives everyone their just desserts: The Hangman. Mike laughs it off, does his job (in a fairly terrific way), and drives off to come face-to-face with the myth that passes judgement.
Frank Tieri does an excellent job filling the story with plenty of twists, turns, and discoveries. His characters feel natural, and his dialogue welcome in any crime or horror story. Tieri has certainly set a tone and style here, and it’ll be intriguing to see where it grows throughout future issues. For those keeping swear-count over the Black Hood‘s “mature language” use, you’ll be happy to know Tieri goes above and beyond anything printed before from this publisher. Normally that wouldn’t be something to write about or note in this day and age, but I almost see it as a commitment from Archie saying, “Yes, we are an adult line for adult readers. Here is proof of our fucking stamp of approval.“
On the art side, Felix Ruiz does marvelous things here. His art goes in tandem with where writer Tieri has paced his twists, stylistically in tone with the material’s every beat (and overall with Dark Circle’s general direction across its line). His action sequences are something to fall for, and towards the end of the book where the horror-esque/other world vibe comes in, he certainly nails it while keeping in sync with the rest of the material his pen has drawn on the previous pages.
Simply, like The Black Hood from Dark Circle, The Hangman hits it out of the park. Its horror-esque “bad guys get what they deserve” vibe will remind readers of Spawn, while the unfiltered grit will remind some of Sin City. Perhaps, if it keeps going in this direction, folks twenty years from now will refer to The Hangman as a reference point of recommendation instead of Spawn or Sin City. Only time and future issues will tell if it will be so bold to hold that honor.
Rating: 4 out of 4 stars!