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HANGMAN

Real Name: Harlan Krueger

Identity/Class: Human, citizen of the United States

Occupation: Vigilante;
                     formerly soldier

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: The Pride (unwillingly)

Enemies: DePrayve (Winston Redditch), Brother Grimm, Iron Man (Tony Stark), Locksmith, Louie, Matthew O'Brien, Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), Tick-Tock, Werewolf (Jack Russell), various unidentified victims

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: "the shepherd of righteousness" (title he gave himself)

Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
                                  formerly Los Angeles, California

First Appearance: Werewolf by Night I#11 (November, 1973)

Powers/Abilities: The Hangman possessed no known superhuman abilities. A trained soldier in peak physical condition, he wielded an eight foot wooden harvesting scythe with a curved, four-foot, single-edged steel blade. He also carried a thirty-foot length of half-inch hemp rope, terminated by a 13-coil hangman's noose he regularly used to strangle his victims. An obsessive sociopath with psychotic tendencies, he suffered from bouts of extreme violence. Krueger believed he was on a sacred quest for justice. Extremely misogynistic, Krueger felt women were fundamentally weak and in need of his protection. While he had no qualms about killing men, Krueger operated on a strict moral code that prohibited him from hurting women. Hangman had two 2 inch facial scars. One ran vertically across his left eye, the other ran vertically down the right side of his face, below the cheekbone. Despite his mental instability, he had a keen mind and more than fair investigative skills. He also had extensive knowledge of American cinema, specifically of the films of the 30s, 40s and 50s.

Height: 6'5" 
Weight: 310 lbs. 
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Bald

History:

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(Werewolf By Night I#11 (fb) ) - As a child, Harlan Krueger went to the movies every Saturday where he watched stars like John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart beat the bad guys. He became obsessed with Hollywood's extremely black and white take on good and evil and took it on himself to emulate that behavior. He dedicated himself to rid the world of anyone who was evil or corrupt.

(Werewolf By Night I#11 (fb) ) - Krueger joined the military and fought in a European conflict, gleefully killing as many enemy combatants as he could (see comments). His extremely violent behavior led him to be court-martialed. He was discharged and spent the six years in an army stockade for torture and cruelty. When he got out, the still deluded Krueger felt he could still serve justice as a police officer. However, his criminal record made it impossible for him to join the force. This latest setback made him realize the police and the political system had become corrupted and evil as well.

(Werewolf By Night I#11 (fb) - BTS) - Harlan went underground and created the costumed identity of the Hangman, using a reaping scythe and a hangman's noose to kill any man he deemed corrupted by evil. He also constructed the lair of the Hangman, a small prison complex in an old, abandoned building where he locked up a number of women he'd kidnapped so he could protect them from all the evil and corruption of the outside world.

(Werewolf By Night I#11) - One night, out on patrol, Hangman spotted a junkie about to rob a woman in order to support his habit. Without a second thought, Hangman lethally stabbed the man with his scythe, announcing that yet another corrupt one dies so his innocent victim might live. Though he assured the woman he meant her no harm, the sight of the corpse and Hangman's scythe still dripping with blood was enough to make her faint. He decided to take her back to his lair to keep her "safe". When she came to and found herself among the other chained up, emaciated girls, the woman became frantic but Hangman calmly recounted his origin and explained he was doing all this so she and the others could live their lives in perfect serenity. He then went out on patrol again, stalking the rooftops looking for trouble. He happened upon Lissa Russell and Buck Cowan who were out walking. Initially believing Cowan might have impure intentions, he soon concluded he was instead her protector. Just then, Lissa's brother Jack approached in his werewolf form, causing the Hangman to spring to action. When he threatened to kill the Werewolf, Lissa jumped the Hangman who shoved her aside. Furious, the Werewolf attacked but Hangman's scythe wielding skills were enough to keep him at bay. Frustrated by the stalemate, Werewolf eventually used his acrobatics to dodge the blade long enough to get a punch in. Momentarily dazed, Hangman watched as Cowan convinced the Werewolf to take off. Hangman gave chase and managed to get the drop on the "evil creature", eventually lassoing a noose around the Werewolf's neck in preparation for hanging him.

(Werewolf By Night I#12) - At the last possible moment, the struggling Werewolf freed himself by biting through the hemp rope. Ready to attack the "plague of sin" again, Hangman was forced to retreat when the police arrived on the scene. He returned to his lair where he spoke with his latest "saved" girl, still desperate to escape her bonds. Her tearful pleading fell on deaf ears as the psychotic Hangman called himself her savior rather than her captor. He left to go on patrol again soon after, spotting a police car which caused him to rant about the corruption of law enforcement: they had no interest in stopping evil, for without criminals they'd be out of work. Just then, the Werewolf (using his enhanced senses) tracked Hangman down and attacked him. Their rooftop scuffle was noticed by the cops, which once again forced Hangman to head for his lair. Only this time, the Werewolf was on his trail. The two continued their fight inside the lair, buying enough time for Hangman's prisoners to free themselves. Eventually, Hangman was slammed into a wall-supporting pillar. The fragile building began to cave in on itself, burying Hangman who begged the Werewolf to finish him off now that he had nothing left to live for. Russell didn't honor this request and left Krueger to die.

(Werewolf By Night I#26 (fb) - BTS) - Somehow freeing himself from underneath the rubble of his former lair, Hangman continued his warped quest for justice. He took over a long abandoned Bijou movie theater and started using it as his new base of operations.

(Werewolf By Night I#26 (fb) ) - Out on patrol one night, he ran into the brutish DePrayve assaulting a woman. Hangman was ready to take him on when the Werewolf arrived and beat him to it. Hangman continued to watch and was intrigued when DePrayve changed back into Winston Redditch when he was knocked out. Unsure if Redditch was also evil, Hangman spent the next month researching the scientist and finally concluded that he was guilty as both man and monster. He went to the hospital where Redditch was recovering to carry out his judgement when he spotted the Werewolf nearby.

(Werewolf By Night I#25) - Eager for a chance to rid the world of the lycanthrope evil, Hangman quickly tossed a noose around the unsuspecting creature's neck and pulled him up.

(Werewolf By Night I#26) - The Werewolf once again managed to prevent the hanging, this time by grabbing a nearby flagpole for support and using it to yank the Hangman off the roof. After a brief struggle, the Hangman accidentally cut the Werewolf free with his scythe. The creature took off, but Hangman didn't pursue, prefering to deal with Redditch instead. He made his way to Redditch's room, even knocking out a nurse who tried to stop him. Hangman pulled out Redditch's I.V., which caused the man to faint. Mocking him for his apparent weakness, Hangman took him to his movie theater hideout where he planned to fight and kill him. However, the Werewolf had tracked Hangman's scent to the Bijou, just as he was getting ready to slay Redditch. The creature intervened but couldn't prevent Redditch from turning into the super strong DePrayve again. Hangman tried to fight the brute, but DePrayve took the executioner's strongest punch with ease and then slammed the Hangman aside. In the heat of the battle, Werewolf cut DePrayve's face which shocked him into retreating. Werewolf went after him and Hangman gave chase, scythe in hand, yelling that justice would not allow them to escape. He was spotted by a nearby police patrol who took him into custody.

(Spider-Woman I#4 (fb) - BTS) - Hangman somehow freed himself and continued his fight against evil. His curiosity was piqued by a series of jewely robberies (perpetrated by Brother Grimm, who tasked his underling Louie to pin the blame on a random stranger).

(Spider-Woman I#4) - Hangman interrupted Louie just as he was carrying out Grimm's orders: he had knocked out a random motorist, stashed some of the stolen diamonds in his car and spilled booze over his clothing to make it appear he had been drinking. Next, Louie planned to drive the man's car off a cliff, but he was captured by the Hangman who forced him to reveal the location of Grimm's base. Louie complied, hoping Hangman would be lenient but the vigilante killed him anyway. Hangman quickly made his way to Grimm's base unaware Spider-Woman was already there fighting Grimm herself. After killing a few more of Grimm's henchmen, Hangman wandered into the area where Spider-Woman was fighting the villain amidst a blazing fire. Mistaking the heroine for the true criminal, he captured her with his noose and dragged her outside claiming her criminal days were over forever. Moments later, the base exploded while the two looked on (see comments).

(Spider-Woman I#5 (fb) ) - After explaining to Spider-Woman he understood how weak and frail women are, easy prey for the depraved minds who inhabit LA, he took her to his new dungeon located inside an old, abandoned mansion. He bound and gagged her, all the while ranting about his mission and the fact there aren't any heroes left to be a good influence on today's youth. He felt the depraved violence of Clint Eastwood couldn't hold a candle to the unblemished humanity of John Wayne. After this lengthy monologue, he returned to Los Angeles, leaving the seemingly helpless Spider-Woman alone to fend for herself in the darkness.

(Spider-Woman I#50 - BTS) - Through unrevealed ways, Hangman was kidnapped by Locksmith and Tick-Tock. They imprisoned him along with other Los Angeles area metahumans like Tigra, the Shroud and the Enforcer. After concluding Krueger was one of the most violent men he'd ever encountered, Locksmith subjected him to a steady stream of drugs and children's cartoons in a successful attempt at keeping him docile.

(Spider-Woman I#50) - Eventually, Locksmith and Tick-Tock managed to capture Spider-Woman. As she was led to her cell in Locksmith's complex, she spotted the Hangman watching TV. Later, the chained up Hangman was entranced by a clown on television, thinking the performer had a nice face.

(Spider-Woman I#50 - BTS) - After freeing herself, Spider-Woman and her allies confronted Locksmith and Tick-Tock who were easily defeated. She then called the police and informed them of the location of Hangman and the other villains still in lockup.

(Iron Man Legacy#6 (fb) - BTS) - Hangman, now off Locksmith's drugs and back to his old, raving self, was imprisoned in a Los Angeles jail.

(Iron Man Legacy#6) - Hangman continued to execute those he deemed impure, including the homeless. He was about to kill Tyree Robinson, a mentally ill genius who went off his meds. However, a down-on-his-luck Tony Stark intervened and even managed to beat Krueger who was subsequently hauled off to jail. 

(Iron Man Legacy#7) - When the criminal cabal known as the Pride learned that Tony Stark was in LA, they figured he was there to move in on their territory and thus decided to rub him out. They teleported into Krueger's cell and, using a form of mental coercion, forced the insane mercenary to tell them all he knew. Disgusted by his actions and bigoted views on race and sex, the Pride decided to leave Krueger with a parting gift after he told them all he knew. Hangman was hypnotically forced to hang himself in his cell as soon as the Pride departed.

(Iron Man Legacy#7 - BTS) - Hangman survived his forced suicide attempt and was eventually transferred to a mental institution (see comments).

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#17) - By this point, Hangman had executed over thirty men, most of them known criminals. Five of the women he had imprisoned starved to death during his absence from his hideout, while police found and freed ten other women before they also died of hunger.

(Bizarre Adventures#31/3 (fb) ) - During his time in the institution, Krueger began to rethink his approach to fighting crime, realizing it would take more than his lifetime to rid the world of all he deemed corrupt. Instead, as a lover of old movies that promoted decency and proper values, he decided to now target contemporary filmmakers who produced immoral movies. Krueger soon escaped the institute and, after building up his body to peak strength, continued with his mission.

(Bizarre Adventures#31/3) - Krueger went to a screening of Gore Galore, a new and extremely violent horror movie. Determined to kill everyone involved in making the film, he was furious when the credits rolled too quickly for him to write all their names down. Movie critic Matthew O'Brien was kind enough to give Krueger a copy of the press kit that included a full credit listing.

(Bizarre Adventures#31/3 - BTS) - Over the next couple of days, Hangman systematically started killing everyone on the list, starting with the producer Andrew Pfaffenroth, director Earl R. Brown and screenwriter James Schumann. Next, he decided to focus on killing the cast.

(Bizarre Adventures#31/3 - BTS) - Hangman's actions caught the attention of O'Brien, who figured out the man he met at the screening was responsible for the killings. O'Brien tried to warn the surviving Gore Galore crew and attended a premiere party for Splatterday a movie a number of Gore Galore actors also worked on. Much to his chagrin, it was a costume party which made it harder to locate Hangman.

(Bizarre Adventures#31/3) - Krueger went to the party wearing his Hangman outfit, effortlessly blending in with the other ghoulishly outfitted guests. He started to stalk the Gore Galore cast, picking them off as soon as they strayed off by themselves. He killed one of the actors and then strangled another costumed guest, believing it was an actor as well. However, when he removed his victim's mask, he was horrified to discover it was an innocent woman. In tears, he dropped his scythe and mournfully knelt before the corpse. O'Brien spotted Hangman, who was so absorbed by his grief he didn't notice the critic's approach. Deciding the villain had to be stopped, he grabbed the scythe and plunged it in the Hangman's back, fatally wounding him.

Comments: Created by Marv Wolfman (writer), Gil Kane (pencils), Tom Sutton (inks)

Ah, the Hangman... I remember severely disliking the character as a kid when he appeared in Spider-Woman. After all, what's so super about a villain whose only weapons are a farmer's tool and some rope? 25 years on, revisiting Krueger for this profile, I came away with a new appreciation for the concept of the Hangman. His demented fervor and radical views more than make up for his lack of flashy powers or a cool costume. The Hangman is terrifying because he's an ordinary man whose sole power is his extreme conviction he is doing the right thing. He doesn't act out of malice or even slightly sinister purposes, quite the opposite. He genuinely wants to do good, even imprisoning and subsequently starving innocent women is considered doing them a favor. All this makes for a compelling and more than slightly disturbing suburban menace. Basically, Hangman is a cross between the Punisher and Turner D. Century, only slightly more deranged... And Harlan was created well before both of them.

In his origin story, the Hangman mentions fighting in World War II, which led to his dismissal from the service. The sliding timescale makes it pretty much impossible for Krueger to have fought the Nazis, that's why it's been described as a "European conflict".

Hangman's Spider-Woman appearances don't really make too much sense. He is out to get Brother Grimm but as soon as he walks in on him fighting Spider-Woman, Hangman blithely ignores the guy and declares she's the real baddie instead. He then vows to kill her, only to completely change his tune in the next panel when he swears to protect her! Of course, one can't expect too much logic from a violent psychopath but even a little consistency goes a long way.

The Handbook's Master Edition claims Hangman teamed up with Moon Knight and Doctor Glitternight in Werewolf by Night I#37. In this story all three were merely magic constructs created by Belaric Marcosa to fight the Werewolf. For one thing, this "Hangman" doesn't speak, while the real Harlan Krueger couldn't stop spouting deranged oneliners if his life depended on it.

Hangman's Iron Man Legacy appearances proved rather tough to pin point continuity wise... Mainly because by all accounts Hangman was supposed to be dead long before Tony Stark even became homeless. That storyline didn't start until September 1983's Iron Man I#174, over a year after he'd been killed in April 1982's Bizarre Adventures#31. Then again, the Hangman showing up long after his supposed demise is hardly anything new. His cameo in Spider-Woman I#50 is cover dated June, 1983. The Hangman's entry in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#17 even makes special note of this discrepancy. Of course, all this could easily be explained away if it's revealed Hangman survived his supposedly fatal encounter with O'Brien. That means he might still be out there. Plotting. Preparing. Picking the right moment to recommence the culling of the corrupt. Think good thoughts, people...

Hangman received profiles in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe I#5, Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#17 and Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Master Edition I#7.

Profile by Norvo.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Hangman should not be confused with


images: (without ads)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#18, p52, pan1 (main image)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Master Edition I#7, p21 (pose)
Werewolf by Night I#11 p9, pans1&2 (unmasked)
Werewolf by Night I#26, p8, pans2&4 (tells everyone to keep quiet)
Werewolf by Night I#26, p22 pan4 (arrested by liberal milksops)
Spider-Woman I#4, p4, pan3 (promises safety in his dungeon)
Spider-Woman I#50, p10, pan3 (drugged up watching clowns)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#18, p52, pan2 (killed with his own scythe)


Appearances:
Werewolf by Night I#11 (November, 1973) - Marv Wolfman (writer), Gil Kane (pencils), Tom Sutton (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Werewolf by Night I#12 (December, 1973) - Marv Wolfman (writer), Gil Kane (pencils), Don Perlin (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Werewolf By Night I#25 (January, 1975) - Doug Moench (writer), Don Perlin (pencils & inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Werewolf By Night I#26 (February, 1975) - Doug Moench (writer), Don Perlin (pencils & inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Spider-Woman I#4 (July, 1978) - Marv Wolfman (writer/editor), Carmino Infantino (pencils), Tony DeZuniga (inks)
Spider-Woman I#5 (August, 1978) - Marv Wolfman (writer/editor), Carmino Infantino (pencils), Tony DeZuniga (inks)
Bizarre Adventures#31 (April, 1982) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Bill Sienkiewicz (artist), Dennis O'Neil (editor)
Spider-Woman I#50 (June, 1983) - Ann Nocenti (writer), Brian Postman (pencils), Sam DeLa Rosa (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Iron Man Legacy#6 (November, 2010) - Fred van Lente (writer), Steve Kurth (pencils), Allen Martinez (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Iron Man Legacy#7 (December, 2010) - Fred van Lente (writer), Steve Kurth (pencils), Allen Martinez (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)


Last updated: 02/07/15

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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