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DC Red Circle - Hangman #1

Reviews for the various Mighty Crusaders Comics.

Moderator: Rik

Post Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:39 am
leonmallett User avatar

Posts: 523
Location: West Midlands, UK

Story by Joseph Michael Straczynski
Art by Tom Derenick & Bill Sienkiewicz

The Civil War claimed many lives…but one of those lives still hasn’t ended! Union doctor Robert Dickering found himself on the wrong side of the battle lines, and despite his heroic treatment of a fallen enemy soldier, he also found himself on the wrong end of a noose! But a shadowy power stepped forth in the twilit moments between life and death and offered him a deal he couldn’t refuse: to forever roam the Earth, saving the lives of innocents condemned like himself – or hastening the deaths of the guilty! But in taking the seemingly righteous mission of the Hangman, has he accepted God’s work? Or has he become the vengeful fist of the Devil himself?

Okay this is brand new. We are not following on from Hangmen of the past (the MLJ version(s) - was the villainous Hangman an imposter?; the !mpact version), although the character seems to be a nod to them all in some ways. A classic spiritually-empowered agent of vengeance, the character can also be seen to be a nod to classic characters such as the Spectre and Mr Justice, and especially Ghost Rider. Not in trappings, nor precise premsie, but in feel and archetype perhaps.

The issue itself is by J. Michael Straczynski (sp.?) and art by Tom Derenick (p) and Bill Sienkiewicz (i). Now I didn't really enjoy the latter pairing on Reign in Hell but their art here gelled much better for me. Individually I like both artists a lot, but this issue is the strongest I have seen from them yet.

The story is essentially an origin tale and premise set-up in one, and so feels like a tale of two halves. In some ways JMS has succeeded in writing a book in a way we haven't seen since the emergence of the need to write for trades. In the hands of many less talented writers I think this would have taken 4-6 issues, yet in 20-something pages he establishes the character, his present set-up, and his motivation. In a way it feels like a throw-back to origin issues of yesteryear, but with modern sensibilities: which is all good in the eyes of this reader. The art complements and conveys the story clearly and without ambiguity except where it is intended - in other words it does what it is supposed to. This felt like an old school comic book filtered through a sophisticated outlook - and I couldn't have asked for more.

I would give this book a definite 9 out 10.

Roll on next week.
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