Welcome back to My Hero, wherein we here at Back to the Past tell you why the obscure characters from our custom action figure collection are great! Years ago, we purchased the life’s work of an artist and comic fan whose chosen medium was granting forgotten comic characters the action figure immortality denied to them by major toymakers. We’re still sorting through it all, and we’re making new finds every week! This week’s find, who will soon be available on ebay, is The Comet’s brother The Hangman!
The Death of The Comet
As we mentioned last week, The Comet was one of the very first superheroes to be killed off on-panel. His death inspired his brother, Bob Dickering, to take up a costumed identity of his own. Armed with naught but a shadow puppet of a hangman’s gallows and his own two fists, Bob became The Hangman! He battled crooks and spies through thirty issues of Pep Comics and seven issues of his own series before superheroes went out of style at the soon-to-be Archie Comics.
Like most all of Archie’s superheroes, The Hangman made a return in the Silver Age of Comics. Unlike most of them, it was as a villain! We blame his somewhat gruesome gimmick for that. He was explicitly stated to be the same Hangman, with The Shield lamenting that an old crimefighter had gone bad in his first 60s era appearance. He’d picked up the ability to mentally command rope at some point in the interim. making him a bit more of a threat to the super-powered Mighty Crusaders.
The Hangman Returns
The 80s revival of the Mighty Crusaders under the Red Circle label saw The Hangman return to heroics. Both the original and his son appeared, with the former having made peace with his brother and the rest of the Mighty Crusaders. Both of the DC Comics reboots of the Mighty Crusaders (under the Impact Comics and Red Circle imprints) revamped The Hangman as a supernatural avenger in the vein of DC’s own Spectre or Archie’s own Mr. Justice. The most recent reboot, 2013’s New Crusaders, split the difference between the character’s Golden and Silver Age appearances: he still considered himself a hero, but his murderous antics with ropes had gotten him tossed in jail.
As you might imagine, The Hangman was not included when Remco made their limited run of Mighty Crusaders figures. If you want him on your shelf, you need a custom figure like the ones in our custom action figure collection. Speaking of which, if you’ve got collection like it – be it original art, custom action figures, convention sketches, whatever – and are looking to sell it, get in touch!
I discovered a lot of this material retroactively, after reading late 1970’s/early 1980’s digest reprints of the 1950’s-1970’s Harvey material, and some nice newer 1980’s Harvey/ Red Circle work.
SHOCKING TALES digest (Oct 1981) collects ALARMING TALES 1 and 2 from 1957, reprinting Simon and Kirby science fiction stories, of the same type Kirby was doing before and after for DC and Marvel/Atlas.
Along with reprinting stories from BLACK CAT MYSTERY 45(Aug 1953), and MAN IN BLACK 1 (Sept 1957), both with stories by Bob Powell.
ARCHIE’S SUPER HERO SPECIAL 1 digest (1978) reprints some ADVENTURES OF THE FLY 2 and DOUBLE LIFE OF PRIVATE STRONG 1 work by Simon and Kirby, and a John Rosenberger story from ADVENTURES OF THE JAGUAR 1, 1961.
Along with Paul Reinman stories from MIGHTY COMICS 46 (the Web) and 47 (the Blak Hood). And several shorter Gray Morrow stories reprinted from RED CIRCLE Sorcery.
The re-titled ARCHIE’S SUPER HERO COMICS DIGEST MAGAZINE 2 (1979, note the title change) reprints a number of stories by Simon and Kirby, Morrow, Rosenberger, Wood, Reiman and Stone. But the treasure in this issue is what appears to be produced but unpublished inventory Black Hood issue, in 4 stories by Neal Adams (10 pages), Morrow (8 pages), McWilliams (4 pages), and a second McWilliams story (5 pages). Again, in a digest size.
I think if you read the RED CIRCLE SORCERY mystery stories from 1973-1974, you’ll want to do a retro-review of those as well. Some really nice work by Gray Morrow, Vicente Alcazar, Alex Toth, and nice early work by Howard Chaykin, Bruce Jones and others.
The one that first turned me on to the Harvey superhero stuff was their brief Red Circle comics line circa 1983-1984, all in a standard 7″ X 10″ comics size. Especially their BLUE RIBBON COMICS anthology, with a mixture of reprint issues and mostly new material.
Issues 1 and 5 reprint Simon & Kirby material.
Issue 2 is new work by Von Eeden/Alex Nino.
Issue 8 reprints the Black Hood material from the Archie digest 2 above, but with better printing in a larger standard-comic size for the first time.
I also loved THE COMET revived new title, with art by Infantino/Nino and Infantino/Nebres. Not great story writing, but a really interesting art combination. And quite a few new stories by Rich Buckler.
Also nice is a
I was surprised when Irv Novick died a few years ago. I knew him as an artist on DC’s war books in the 1960’s, and then drawing BATMAN, DETECTIVE, FLASH and WORLD’S FINEST in the 1970’s and 1980’s. But I became aware at some point that Novick was also one of the very first Golden Age artists on all these Harvey superheroes, going back to the earliest days. But pardon my bias, I’l always love him most for his Novick/Giordano BATMAN and DETECTIVE work.
This stuff is much easier to find than it ever was before, you can read scans of them online, on any number of sites. But I’m old school (age 58) and prefer to hold the comic im my hands, and breathe that sweet smell of rotting pulp !