"The Hangman #3" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Circle Comics
Written by Frank Tieri
Illustrated by Felix Ruiz
Colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick
2016, 36 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on March 9th, 2016
Does anyone argue that The Omen is a pretty creepy movie? There's something unsettling about having a being of such dark evil inhabit the body of a small child. That's the case in the opening pages of this issue of The Hangman as we meet Azmodeus. Somehow, he's even more menacing than Damian. He brings a bully to his knees with a look, causing blood to shoot out of his nose with just a thought. It's chilling and instantly sets up this character as the big bad for the new Hangman.
Speaking of which, Mike Minetta is still getting the hang of his new gig. He has returned to the land of the living, but he's not necessarily alive. This issue introduces us to Jack Tenant, who serves as the Hangman's scribe, chronicling his adventures and the souls he's taken. He's able to fill Mike in on some of ins and outs of the job, such as the fact that he can't see his family. That's such a gut punch for Mike, as that's the main reason he agreed to all this in the first place. Despite the fact that he's a truly horrible person that has done downright despicable things to others, Mike still has a soft spot in his heart for his wife and daughter. Nothing will stop him from protecting them; however it's not clear if he's able to do anything about it just yet.
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With Azmodeus looming, he might be a bit distracted. The woman serving this demon is rather terrifying. She leaps into action in a flurry of blood and knives. Artist Felix Ruiz strings together a great series of panels, showing her unsheathing blades, throwing them at the reader, and then all of them hitting home at once in an explosion of gore. That last panel is breathtaking and gruesome all at once. Kelly Fitzpatrick's colors make the blood pop off the page, especially since the panel is mostly in shadow, so you just see a character's silhouette and all that gore.
The following page is just as amazing, as it features the other end of this fight with the body falling. The panels are vertical and long. They start to fall until they're more diagonal as the body finally hits the ground. This is a great effect that's perfectly used here.
We get a good look at Minetta's costume as the Hangman. It's a modern look that's a bit like Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride, although a bit darker, as he's walking around with a noose around his neck. The outfit could pass as normal if he were walking down the street. Sure, people might look at him funny for his choice of accessories, but bear in mind that he's in New York. I'm positive that this would not be the weirdest thing someone would see on the street.
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While the first couple issues of The Hangman established the character and his origin, this one explores the wider world around him. It would stand to reason that if the Hangman is one side of the fight, there would be a darker force on the opposite end. I just wasn't anticipating how cold and dark it could get. Writer Frank Tieri introduces a solid and fearful pair of villains that are more than formidable against Minetta. The thing is that I'm not entirely sure he would fight them. He's a deeply flawed character that's used to playing on the wrong side of the law. How is he going to react when approached by such a force of evil? I'm saying this after he literally told the Devil to go fuck himself. The guy is seriously capable of anything.
The Hangman plays in a nightmarish corner of Dark Circle Comics. If you thought The Black Hood was grim and gritty, you're in for a treat with this book. It's taking its time outlining the players and the rules of this world which pulls you in deeper on every page. With each new layer, the story hooks me more and more. The Hangman mixes elements of revenge, supernatural, and good old-fashioned horror in a demonic showcase of terror.