The Hanged Man

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The Hanged Man
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© Juke Box Productions


AstroFacts


Status: Active
Earliest (in world) Appearance: 1748
Origin: While certain details of the Hanged Man's past are mentioned in Astro City #39, the full tale surrounding his dark beginning has yet to be told.
Base of Operations: Shadow Hill


Personal Data


Aliases: The Dark One

Tereth-Il
Kerem the Wise


InfoDump


Appearances (in Publication Order): Kurt Busiek's Astro City Vol.1 #4

Wizard Presents: Kurt Busiek's Astro City #1/2
Kurt Busiek's Astro City Vol.2 #1, 6, 9
Astro City #13, 39


Event Timeline

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A strange and mysterious being, the Hanged Man stands a nightly vigil over the neighborhood known as Shadow Hill. He wears a burlap bag over his face and a badly frayed rope around his neck. The shadowy remnants of a ghastly execution.

History

K.O. Carson tells old time tales of the Hanged Man, some of which pre-date World War I and the arrival of Air Ace. The earliest stories originate in mystic European folklore from the Middle Ages, but the Hanged Man's first recorded appearance occurred in 1748. Stephane Mesnier, a resident of Picardy, France, was found guilty of unspecified crimes, and sentenced to hang. Immediately preceding his death, he was offered and accepted the opportunity to gift his body as a vessel that the Hanged Man could inhabit in order to prevent a great danger from transpiring.

It was during the later half of the 19th Century that the Hanged Man, along with large groups of Eastern Europeans, migrated to the American West into the area now known as Astro City. No specific details per say, just ghostly fragments of events from an ancient past.

Recent history provides more abundant information, starting with police database files detailing Hanged Man's activities protecting the residents of Astro City. One of his most revered incidents involved the mysterious murders plaguing Shadow Hill during the time of the Great Enelsian Invasion. That case baffled authorities who originally concluded that the Confessor, a rather ruthless vigilante, was somehow responsible for the serial killings.

Instead, the Hanged Man discovered the real culprit turned out to be an extremely horrendous and bestial entity. On a very dark night shortly following both the death of the Confessor and the defeat of the Enelsians, an eerie light emanated over the old buildings inhabiting Shadow Hill. It was a projection filling the skies, mingling with the starlight. A vision made large by the Hanged Man so all the restless citizens of Astro City could witness the final life moments of a horrific killer that had caused so much grieving. That was the relief needed and in the end, the Hanged Man brought closure for the victims and the city.

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Powers

  • The Hanged Man's vast powers seem to be supernatural. He is known to fly, although it is more a wispy floating, like that of an apparition.
  • He can manipulate his size to tower above buildings.
  • He possesses mysterious awareness of alternate time-lines.
  • He can grant visions of other times and places with a touch.
  • He uses the bodies of the newly-dead as vessels to operate in the realms of the physical world.
  • Those he interacts with understand what he means without any need for speech on his part. He can allow his hosts to talk independently of him.

Observations

  • Hanged Man directed the Dancing Master to return to a place known as the Old Lands. The two beings recognized each other, and the Dancing Master remembered three of the hundreds of names that the Hanged Man had used before he "wore a sack upon his head." It is unclear how the two know each other.
  • If someone provides the Hanged Man with a service of some kind, he will return the favor by allowing them to call on him in times of great need. This obligation carries forth from generation to generation, as long as there is a need.
  • He isn't omnipotent, and sometimes seek assistance to fulfill a request.
  • So far, the Hanged Man's hosts have been volunteers. He's conveyed dark implications over what might happen if they weren't.

Speculations, Theories

  • The possibilities seem strong that the Hanged Man and his fate are somehow tied into the history, rituals, and superstitions that cling to Shadow Hill.