Review - The Hangman #1 (@DrkCircleComics)

"Uh...nothing, honey. Just keep those eyes closed."

Urban legends are just that: legends. They exist somewhere in the collective psyche of a geographic region, haunting dreams of children and instilling fear in adults. It's very rare that the legend becomes real, but when it does like in The Hangman #1 from Dark Circle Comics, it does so in a big way. The issue is written by Frank Tieri, illustrated by Felix Ruiz, lettered by Rachel Deering and colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick.

They say the Hangman is nothing more than an urban legend. A spook story told to scare criminals straight. But those who encounter him - like hitman "Mad Dog" Mike Minetta - know different. They know that when he comes for you, you're dead already. It's an ongoing tale of horror, the supernatural, and violence - and explains why some men may never be redeemed.

Mike Minetta is far from a nice guy--despite what his family life would have you think--and Tieri uses him as a prism for justified violence of sorts. Most of the issue is spent focused on Minetta and explaining to the reader why he's the target of the urban legend that is the Hangman. Tieri doesn't pull any punches either, painting the world in The Hangman #1 as one rife with crime and brutal punishments. Tieri does an excellent job of maintaining the tension throughout the issue, as the reader knows Minetta is veering towards receiving vengeance because of his actions. There are shades of Arrow in the issue, as the Hangman loudly proclaims how his victim failed at being moral, but it doesn't take away from the overall enjoyment of the issue.

Ruiz does a great job of keeping the graphics visceral and gritty. Characters are defined by sharp lines and angles which seem to cut against the backdrops. There are interesting panel designs that accompany the pacing, with many pages sporting tall, vertical panels that follow along with the action as it progresses. Deering offers lettering that lends an old-school sensibility to the work that fits the equally old-school mob retaliation mentality. And Fitzpatrick pollutes the book with plenty of dark colors (primarily black and blue) with some greens and reds thrown in for good measure.

The Hangman #1 is a pretty intense opening issue that clearly establishes the world the characters live in. The Hangman is more than just an urban legend to some, doling out justice as he deems fit to those requiring punishment. Tieri's script is straightforward and darkly illustrates the world that evil men live in, even if they can reconcile their actions with their own moral compass. The illustrations by Ruiz are just as dark, matching the tone of the story perfectly. The Hangman #1 is a bold first issue that relies on men being evil to carry the tale.

The Hangman #1 is in stores November 4.