The Hangman is the latest installment in the reintroduction of the old Archie superheroes, under the new Dark Circle Comics banner. To date they have re-launched The Black Hood and The Shield. Both of those books have been great, and luckily The Hangman is too.
Like everything I’ve read from Dark Circle, The Hangman was over in what seemed like seconds. I was instantly pulled in by the story, and left scratching my head (in a good way) at the ending. Make no mistake, this book is violent, just like The Black Hood, but this isn’t violence simply for violence’s sake; it’s part of the story. It reminds me of a Quentin Tarantino film, where you have violence that doesn’t seem forced, but something that just exists in the volatile lives of the characters in the story.
We go from one scene that fills us with a certain kind of feeling, only to have that feeling turned on its head a little while later. When it happens, we don’t shake our head in disbelief, but instead get pulled further into the story. As I’m surprised by what’s going on, wham, I get smacked upside the head with something else that we didn’t see coming. This keeps the book chugging along at a respectable pace from beginning to end.
After this first issue I’m left wondering what writer Frank Tieri is doing with the story. My mind is telling me one thing, but if the story so far is any indication, I might want to wait and see where it’s going. I have a feeling there are plenty more twists and turns yet to come before the story settles into its rhythm. And that’s a good thing; with a plot this dynamic, readers are bound to be kept on their toes.
The art by Felix Ruiz is rough, but that’s good for a book like this, because it sets up a gritty feeling that complements the story fantastically. The same goes for Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colors. They bring across a somber feeling in a subtle way, almost without you knowing it. It works well with the art, which works well with the story.
I’ve been telling everyone who will listen thatthey need to check out Dark Circle. Put simply, these books are smart. And not just for fans of grittier, more realistic superhero books either, but for any comic fan who likes a well-done book. Everything they have put out so far has been solid, and not insulting to those fans of the original characters. I really like how Dark Circle has not tried to totally reinvent the characters. Each character is new, but with enough of the feel and style of the originals that they remain recognizable. The characters actually have costumes too, and are not just clad in leather resembling totally unrecognizable from their predecessors.
The staff and creative teams over at Dark Circle are quietly putting out some of the best superhero books on the market. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never read or even heard of these characters before. What does matter is that these are some really good stories. The Hangman doesn’t disappoint.