"The Hangman #1"Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Circle Comics
Written by Frank Tieri
Illustrated by Felix Ruiz
2015, 36 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on November 4th, 2015
Michael Minetta is a scumbag. I mean that in the truest sense of the word. Sure, he puts on a good front with his wife and daughter, always playing the part of the loving husband and father. That cheery exterior hides a malicious individual capable of some truly heinous acts for the mob. His time as a hitman may be limited though, as there's a dark shadow following him. There's a target on Michael Minetta's back...or rather his neck.
It's not really a spoiler to get an understanding of what's to come in The Hangman. You can gather as much based on the solicitation info and what's been discussed about the project to date. The Hangman is a powerful supernatural force, not unlike The Spectre in DC Comics. He seems to be a lot less creative though, sticking to the noose as his modus operandi. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?
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Minetta on the other hand is very creative. We get to see this first hand as he carries out his latest task in the form of killing a man for having relations with one of his bosses. This has been discussed at the Dark Circle Comics panel at NYCC, but it's quite another thing to see it firsthand. Minetta covers this guy in strawberry jam and tosses him on the shores of Caesar's Bay in Brooklyn for the rats to eat him alive. He pays particular interest to the man's groin, giving it some extra jam. Minetta takes joy in his work, explaining each step of the process to his victim, making sure this guy understands the situation he's in and that there is absolutely no hope for survival.
You don't see every piece of this action. The rats are plentiful, but more to the side or in the shadows. Artist Felix Ruiz brings them to life as a shuffling mass, ready to consume anything it passes over. All the while, Minetta has this shit-eating grin on his face. He's loving every minute of it. There's this one fantastic panel where the victim is just about to be engulfed under a sea of rats, his bound hands held up above his head in terror, while Minetta stands above him smiling. It's chilling. It looks like something straight out of a horror movie.
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Ruiz's pencils are loose. Straight edges are rare. He creates basic forms instead of tightly detailed characters, but the feeling of each comes through well. I would be curious how an inker would change this style. Shadow is used effectively throughout the book, especially during the jam scene and the one immediately following it. The final panel is a brilliant shot and it's little more than a silhouette. It really sets the tone for what is to follow with the series.
If this is where The Hangman starts, I cannot wait to see what's in store for the rest of the series. Writer Frank Tieri set a pretty high bar here with a death scene that's up there with one of the most memorable and brutal of the year. This issue finishes just as things really start to pick up, but it will leave you wanting so much more. Michael Minetta's story is just beginning and it's bound to get darker as it progresses.
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