Monday, November 9, 2015

The Executioner Stalks the Hitman in HANGMAN #1

I have been enjoying Archie Comics' Dark Circle line of superhero comic books since they began earlier this year. But I've been looking forward to the line's fourth title for several months: HANGMAN!

Don't let the title fool you. This is no light-hearted romp! The title character is a supernatural vigilante who hunts down the worst of the worst and execute them!

The original Hangman was a Golden Age superhero who became the Hangman to avenge his brother's death (AKA the Golden Age superhero known as Comet). I don't remember him having a supernatural nature back then, but I'm not 100% certain that the Hangman in this book is the same Hangman that first appeared in comic books back in 1941!

(Though a variant cover for HANGMAN #1 by Robert Hack implies that they're the same guy!)

But this book isn't about Bob Dickering or any of the other guys who once went by the name Hangman. This book is about Michael "Mickey Ice" Minetta -- a hitman who's so cold that he barely cares if his daughter accidentally catches a glimpse of his latest hit. Fortunately, she kept her eyes covered on this morning!

Mikey Ice is a terrible man. Not only does he kill people for money, but he comes up with the most creatively evil execution styles -- like pouring strawberry jam all over his latest victim so that he'll get eaten alive by rats!

As you may suspect -- and I'm totally SPOILING things in this blog post, but it seems pretty obvious where things are heading in this origin tale -- Michael Minetta is hunted down by the Hangman and executed. Once again, I don't think I'm ruining things too much by pointing out that he was hung by the Hangman!

But this death triggers something. The Hangman hits some sort of redemptive milestone. I'm fairly that we won't see him again. But -- and this is totally speculation on my part -- I'm pretty sure that we will see more of Michael Minetta in future issues of this book.

If my hunch is correct -- and I'm fairly certain that it is -- Mikey Ice is now the Hangman and the Hangman is Mikey Ice. Long live the Hangman!

It goes without saying that HANGMAN #1 is an extremely dark title. There's lots of swearing and pretty graphic violence. I hate it when people remind you that this isn't your grandfather's "Hangman." Then again, superheroes were pretty cut-throat back in the 40s, so maybe this is your grandfather's "Hangman," but with more crotch-eating rats.

"Damned Part One" is written by Frank Tieri, with art by Felix Ruiz, lettering by Rachel Deering, and coloring by Kelly Fitzpatrick.

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