THE HANGMAN #1 (Dark Circle Comics / Archie Comics, December 2015) Frank Tieri, writer. Felix Ruiz, artist. Rachel Deering, letterer. Kelly Fitzpatrick colorist. Rated Teen + violence and mature content.
The back cover blurb tells you everything you need to know about the new HANGMAN series: “They say he’s just an urban legend A spook story told to scare criminals, but for those poor souls who encounter him - - like hitman ‘Mad Dog’ Mike Minetta — they know the frightening truth, that when The Hangman comes for you . you’re already dead.”
The story inside the covers lives up to every word of that proud statement, and doesn’t disappoint. This is gritty, mysterious, and dark - - and profoundly profane. Vulgar language is employed on nearly every page. I went back and counted a dozen different curse words among the twenty-page story. However, these words are employed for effect, and rightly so. At first I was shocked and then pleasantly pleased. This is a story involving some rough gangsters, and that is the way they talk. The Hangman is realistic because of it, not excessive. And to think that all this is going on under the umbrella and with the blessing of Archie Comics!
Frank Tieri’s script is rugged and fast-paced. His characterization of hitman Miinetta is vivid and leaves a bad taste - - which it should. This is a character that very few readers are going to warm up to or feel sympathy for. He doesn’t have to enjoy his assignment so much - - but he does. He’s also got a lot of nerve, leaving a gagged and bound body in the trunk of his car while parked in the family garage overnight.
Just after he completes his assignment, he meets The Hangman. Always there. Behind you. Over your shoulder. In front of you. You can’t escape. And you will pay. We don’t learn much about the main character in this first issue. Just as he enters the picture late in the story, things end on a cliffhanger. There may be changes in store. Already.
If that isn’t enough to keep you coming back for Issue #2, the art by Felix Ruiz will pull you in and tease you into wanting more. It’s done in a style that is well-suited for crime comics and helps propel the story along. Colors are also used here to great effect.
This book is definitely worth a try-out.