Instead of Tom Waits' Thursday, this week were going to do another installment of If I Ran the Zoo. where I suggest reinterpretation of existing comic book characters. This week, we're going to focus on the Hangman, one the Archie characters that DC Comics recently revived.
The problem with the recent Hangman revival is that it's basically a retread of the old vengeful ghost story. The twist is that, though he is a murdering ghost by night, the Hangman is a doctor be day. Thus, he must work to heal the people who suvive his nightly attacks. If this premise sounds familiar, it's because it is basically the plot of the web comic Dr. McNinja, except not funny or interesting.
My reinterperetaion of the character goes back to his ogininal Archie comics origin with a darker twist . In the orginal comics, the Hangaman was actually Bob Dickering, the younger brother of the superhero, the Comet. When the Comet gets shot by mobsters, Bob becomes the Hangman to get revenge on the criminals who did it.
My take on the character is that the Comet's death was the major turning point in Bob's life. It was the event that gave him direction. Befre that, his life was on autoplilot. Being the Hangman gave him a purpose and, for the first time, he was truly happy.
The only problem is that the Comet, like all good superheroes, gets better. (I'm talking about the 1940's Comet. The less that it said about the 60's version of the character, the better.) Suddenly, Bob's whole motivation is gone. His brother's presence reduces him to just a man in a slly outfit. After all, what's scarier to criminals, a hero who has no superpowers or the man who can and will disentigrate you by looking at you funny?
After all, death is not the worst thing that can happen to a superhero. The worst thing is being made irelevant.