Review: The Hangman #1

Wait, what? Sorry, I just read the last page of this book. Not sure how the writer thought that was the way to end the first issue of a series, but whatever, right? Not like what preceded it was all that great.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Hello.

I'm tired of hitmen. Tarantino gave everyone the blueprints on how to make killers cool for the 90's onward and nobody stopped using them. It's kind of weird how 'hitman drama' is as much a genre in comics as 'post-apocalyptic wasteland' and 'zombies vs. memes'. Hitman housewife, hitman goes to rehab, hitman of hitmans. I get it, it's a murderer for money, and that ticks off all the boxes, but like writing another police procedural for TV, shouldn't you just know better by now? Or have some sort of other creative interests? Sorry, this comic isn't about a hitman. Well, sort of. But not really.

Did I explain myself properly? Is that confusing? Well, that's what it felt like reading the last page of this book.

This issue stars a hitman. He does the hitman-y things you do as a hitman in these kinds of comics. He hides his hitman-y-ness from his family. Whoops, did his wife accidentally see blood on a symbol of domestic innocence? Nope, close call! He casually jokes about his acts of ultra-violence. Subversive! Don't forget a creative torture scene!

TheHangman#1FFvarwebAnyway, the book is called Hangman for a character who haunts the mob, an avenger who kills the wicked. Too bad by the time we finally get around to him I'd forgotten that the book was about something like that. I have no clue what this book is about. If it were a one-shot, I'd completely understand, because it ends on what seems like a very conclusive note. It'd be a completely forgettable, but not awful one-shot. But it's not. This is issue one, and the final page promises that this story will continue. A story where literally the only thing that will have any consequence to the next issue happens on the last page, to a character we never get to know, with no context to explain what it meant.

Intrigued? I think we're supposed to feel intrigued.

The art is good though. Saving grace. Felix Ruiz has a style that is equal parts brushy and sketchy, very well suited for this kind of crime storytelling and Kelly Fitzpatrick's colors give the grislier scenes a creative dreamlike wooziness (credited beneath the letterer though, which I thought was weird). Can't really fault the art for anything.

“I bet your ass would look good on a bagel.”

This is an actual line in the comic. This is how married women talk.

Not much left to say. It'd make a dumb one-shot, but instead it makes a bewildering first issue. It's not that what happens in the final page is confusing, it's confusing that that is how this issue ends. Like we're supposed to get chills at the cleverness of ending it on such a daring note. At least I can sort of relate to not properly knowing how to finish a piece of writing. Take this review for example.

Score: 2/5

The Hangman #1 Writer: Frank Tieri Artist: Felix Ruiz Publisher: Dark Circle Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/4/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital