By Philip Schweier
October 21, 2015 - 11:13
I appreciate the underdog, and currently in comics, Dark
Circle is a company trying its hardest to carve a niche for itself. It is an
imprint of Archie Comics, Dark Circle is a re-branding of Red Circle, a
short-lived imprint launched in the early 1980s.
It published long dormant characters such as the Shield, the Web, and the Black Hood. Later, the characters were licensed to DC Comics, but to limited success. Archie Comics eventually reclaimed them, and over the past year, it has revived the Red Circle line of properties with darker and more mature storylines, hence the name change.
Issue #6 of the series begins with Hettinger in a rehab facility in California. While there, another resident approaches him, seeking protection from a possible assassin. Hettinger once more becomes the Black Hood in an effort to suss out the truth in an environment of less-than-credible people.
Duane Swiercynski writes an emotional story, with a strong grounding in the truth of dealing with addiction and similar struggles. At the same time, there is an element of mystery, all in a compact done-in-one package. It something seldom seen these days, and refreshing. I doubt many writers could have pulled it off so effectively.
The art is by Howard Chaykin, who has reputation for a very real-world approach to his comic book storytelling. He is a perfect choice for this story, and just by his association alone, there is an added layer of realism that elevates this comic book above the typical super-hero fare.
In the first issue, writer Frank Tieri introduces readers to Mike Minetta – husband, father, and mob hitman. He is on a particularly brutal job when he encounters the Hangman who determines Minetta is beyond redemption. But as the story winds down, a mysterious process takes place, and what becomes of the Hangman becomes a mystery to be explored in subsequent issues.
The Hangman #1 is a compelling debut, and goes beyond simply introducing the character. It leaves a number of questions unanswered, and suggests the character is somewhat akin to DC’s Spectre. However, I am optimistic subsequent issues will take the concept in a different direction. My curiosity is piqued, and I look forward to learning where it will lead.